Floundering in a Sea of Sorrow

A friend sent me a link to website describing grief as walking a tightrope back to life, which is an interesting metaphor, but doesn’t fit with what I’ve been feeling lately. Mostly it seems as if I am bobbing on a sea of sadness, going with the flow, accepting what has happened to both me and my deceased life mate/soul mate, then suddenly I start floundering and, occasionally, I feel as if I am foundering.

The verb flounder means to struggle, to make clumsy efforts to move or regain one’s balance, much like a fish out of water. The verb founder means to fail utterly, to collapse, and comes from a Latin word meaning “bottom.”

I seldom feel as if I am reaching bottom any more, though sometimes, grief catches me unaware and I feel as if I am once again drowning in the sea of sadness. Those times confuse me, because after two years and three months, I feel as if I shouldn’t still become so submerged in sadness. Luckily, though, my times of feeling as if I am foundering don’t last long. My times of floundering, however, are still fairly frequent. A few days can pass without an up swell of grief, and then for no reason I can fathom, I begin floundering again, and have to try to regain my balance.

Even though I’m becoming used to his absence, his goneness still confuses me at times. How can such a vital human being be gone from my life, gone from this earth, just . . . gone? And why do I still miss him? Shouldn’t I be over him? Accept that he is gone and get on with my life? But grief doesn’t work that way, or at least, my grief doesn’t.

He was a big part of my life for more than half my years. Almost everything I own belonged to the two of us. I have a few things that predate his appearance in my life — my car, some household goods — but everything else reminds me of him. He was my best friend, the one person to whom I could say anything, no matter how shocking the rest of the world would find my musings. Oddly, he is still the only person I can talk to, though I do find it pathetic at times that the only one I have to converse with on a regular basis is a dead guy, especially since he doesn’t keep up his end of the conversation.

I am getting on with my life, though I seem to be missing something — verve perhaps, or buoyancy. Even when things were going wrong, our togetherness brought lightness to my life, and I don’t know how to find that in myself. I feel heavy-hearted and lead-footed, as if every movement takes more effort than it should. I suppose it’s just a matter of getting used to this weightiness as well as his goneness and my loneliness and everything else I have to get used to.

And I will get used to it all. My good days, my days of going with the flow show me that it’s possible. And then I flounder, and I wonder how I ever managed to get as far as I have without foundering.

12 Responses to “Floundering in a Sea of Sorrow”

  1. Deborah Owen Says:

    Keep your chin up, Pat. You’re doing great, whether you feel like it or not. One day at a time. When my brother died, his wife asked a counselor how to keep going and the counselor replied, “One day at a time.” “But what if I can’t make it one day?” she asked. “Then cut the time down. Try four hours. If that’s too much, try one hour. If it’s a really bad day, look at the clock and say to yourself, ‘I’ll make it for five minutes.’ When that five minutes has passed, repeat the process.” Blessings. Deb

  2. Holly Bonville Says:

    I’m still thinking the third year has been the worst so far.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s worse than the second year, that’s for sure, though I don’t know why. I am holding tight to the thought that it takes three to five years, and I am still a long way from the third year. On the other hand, some people have told me it never got easier, just different.

      • Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective Says:

        It never ceases to amaze me how others expect those of us who have suffered a great loss to “get over” our grief and “move on” from deep loss so much more quickly than is even possible. I am so thank for those like you – and others – who are speaking out about what it’s like to be on this side of the fence. It’s only through ongoing voices that there are opportunities (for those who wish) to learn.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          Everyone thinks they know what we are going through because they think grief is simply depression you need to snap out of, but unless they have suffered a grievous loss, such as a spouse or a child, they cannot know. Like death, this sort of grief is truly unimaginable.

  3. joylene Says:

    When it gets too overwhelming and you feel sea sick, stop. Sweep the thoughts out of your head and focus on something very beautiful or fascinating in front of you, something that doesn’t require thought. Doesn’t matter what it is. This process is a brain-free, throught-free recess. It’s seldom ever longer than a minute, but it really is a recess, a break. Well deserved. Because, Pat, sometimes there is no reasoning, no reflection, no answers. And taking a break is the only thing left to do. You’re helping a lot of people by posting these journals, and yet, I sense you need to just be for a moment. And if I’m wrong, just chalk it up to the heat.

    • joylene Says:

      Keep in mind that I really know little of sorrow other than I’m a survivor. I read my comment above and thought geez, what do I know. Pat, you’re doing a great service to the rest of us. I just thought I heard exhaustion in your words. Hence my comments about not “thinking”.

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        Joylene, You are absolutely right, though. I am actually more exhausted than sad. Dealing with his being gone is exhausting. I took your advice, though, and spent a few minutes today not thinking about anything.

  4. leesis Says:

    pat I’m hoping this link will work. I think this is a very good discussion with many different experiences. And perhaps useful for those grieving…even if its just hearing others experience and discovering they are not alone.

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