Putting Grief into Perspective

In light of all the horrors going on the world today — massive fires, floods, ghastly diseases — talking about my grief seems a bit self-indulgent. In my favor, my intent was never to get people to feel sorry for me, but merely to chronicle one woman’s journey through grief. I wanted to tell what it felt like to lose a life mate/soul mate since I’d never experienced such a massive onslaught of pain, both physical and psychical. In fact, I never even knew such hurt was possible.

Now that my pain has subsided to irritation and sensitivity, mood swings and easily hurt feelings, continuing to blog about my grief does seem a bit over the top as if I’m trying to dramatize myself. But again, that is not my intention. Grief lasts a long time and can cause much damage to the souls of the bereft if not allowed to follow a natural healing cycle, and these more petty side effects of grief are still part of the grieving process. Even when I’m mostly healed and grief assimilated into my life, there will still be the second half of the process to deal with — finding new meaning, new joy, perhaps even a new identity. And all those steps are worth chronicling.

I write this blog mostly for me (and also to show writers the truth about grief since many get it wrong), so any help other grievers glean from my writing is an added blessing. In other words, what I’m writing here in this post today is a reminder for myself of what I am trying to accomplish with these posts as well as trying to put my grieving into perspective.

Sometimes now, I am far removed from the initial pain, and I look back and wonder what the big deal was. So I lost my life mate/soul mate — others have endured such losses and not screamed their pain to the blogosphere. Was it really so hard? Um . . . yeah. It was excruciatingly difficult.

At the same time I marvel that I made such a big deal of my grief, I marvel that within two months of his death I managed to get his funerary arrangements made, his finances tied up, his “effects” and belonging disposed of, the house cleaned, our remaining possessions packed and stored, a new bank account set up, my driver’s license renewed, and make my way 1000 miles from home to look after my 95-year-old father. That’s a lot of work even for a person who isn’t grieving to do by herself. I have no idea how I managed to get all that done within such a short time, especially since I was reeling from a tsunami of agony and anger and angst.

In the two years and three months since his death, others have lost their spouses, their children, their parents, their health, their houses and all they hold dear, and my grief seems pale in comparison, but the truth is, all we can do is travel our own path. What might seem rosier in another’s life or what might seem more horrific, doesn’t change the truth of our own journey. And this is my path — following grief wherever it might lead me.

10 Responses to “Putting Grief into Perspective”

  1. tennesseemortgagepro Says:

    I had been scrolling through the blogsphere tonight, browsing, briefly reading bits and pieces, when your topic caught my eye. I recently lost my Mother, my bestfriend, someone who, no matter what, was always on my side. The pain that I am feeling over the loss is sometimes overwhelming. When I’m driving, watching t.v., on the Internet, I am just engulfed with the realization that I will never see her again in this life. And I am angry, she had fallen (on her 79th birthday and fractured her arms) an injury that she should have recovered from. But what do you do, cry, be mad, hurt like hell, and wipe your eyes and go on. Anyway, thanks for reading and sharing, I loved my Mom, I guess it would never have been the “right” time for her to go, but I would have liked to have had a little more time with her.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so sorry about your mother. There is never enough time with anyone, and death always seems unfair. My life mate died at 63. It’s been over two years and I still can’t comprehend that I won’t see him again in this lifetime. As you say, all we can do is go on.

      Thank you for stopping by and telling me your story.

      • tennesseemortgagepro Says:

        Thank you Pat for being so kind to reply. My heartfelt sympathy for your loss. Death, when it stops by our doorstep, makes life all the more mysterious. Ya know, “What’s it all about Alfie?”

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          That’s one of the many hard parts about grief — all the questioning. What you thought you knew suddenly doesn’t fit with the immense hole you feel. It makes an already painful and confusing time even more bewildering. That’s why I like talking to other bereft. I don’t feel so alone, then.

          • tennesseemortgagepro Says:

            Pat we don’t really know anything and I think, well for me anyway, of everything I have believed about death and been taught about what happens after death, is it all just to make us feel good? If so, It isn’t working for me, I feel awful, but at the same time afraid not to believe, because I so want to believe I’ll see my Mom again. Grief is an endless blackness, when I think of the word grief, it is just a sad sad word, I’ll never stop missing my mother, and I hope she knows how much I miss her. I suppose I’d just like her to know that her life and her being here meant something, not just as my mother, but as another human being to me. And of course, in my case, it also means that with the natural progression of life, I’m next in line, Don’t know if any of ths is making any sense, but my rambling here seem to mirror my thoughts everyday. Moving through my day just fine, then suddenly I get so sad and start weeping— crazy I guess.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            You’re not crazy. You’re grieving. We live in a relentlessly upbeat society that makes us think we have to be happy at all costs, so when grief hits us, we think there is something wrong with us. Sudden upsurges of grief are normal, and so are tears. In fact, tears are necessary to help release the terrible stress of grief.

            I don’t believe much of what we’ve been taught about what happens after death. For myself, I don’t care if there is nothing after this, but I do care on his behalf. I cannot bear to think that he is completely gone, or even that his energy was absorbed into the universe, so I talk to him and act as if he still exists out there somewhere. It doesn’t really help, because whatever happens, I still have to deal with this loss every day while I am here. They say it does get better, and my pain is finally subsiding, but we never stop missing the ones who are gone.

  2. Holly Bonville Says:

    Pat, please don’t stop writing about your grief and it’s processes. It is helping me, and hopefully many more people like us. I have no support system here and nothing to compare my feelings and experiences with, so your blog is kind of like a yard stick for me.
    I too, am short tempered, irritable and sensitive. My feelings get hurt very easily, over the smallest things. I have new swear words that I use when I have my little fits of temper. But the strange thing is, it isn’t the big stuff that irritates me, it is the small stuff that is supposed to be easy. That will send me into a tantrum faster than anything these days.
    I’m doing the best I can with what I have to work with.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Holly, I had no idea there was anything left to say about grief, but apparently, the kaleidoscope still keeps turning. It’s good to keep in touch with those in the same grief “class” so that we know that what we are feeling is normal. I truly never expected this particular phase of irritability and sensitivity, but here it is — for both of us.

      I wonder why it’s the small stuff that gets us — maybe we’re steeled against the big stuff so that only the little things get through our guard? I’m sure by the time I figure it out, grief will have metamorphosed into something different, and yes, I will write about it.

  3. Kathy Says:

    We share some of our innermost feelings on our blog for therapeutic reasons. I sometimes have regret and worry that I’ve shared too much about some of my relocation angst on a blog that’s supposed to be all about Disney fun – I may even make certain posts private, but in the end, it’s an important exercise and a much-needed one. I have to write it and share it.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It is good to share one’s feelings. Maybe not always smart, but still, it’s good for us. Keeps us connected to the world even when things go haywire.

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