A Kinder, Gentler Grief

A few days ago, I posted an article on this blog saying that a story begins when the world becomes unbalanced. If this is also true in real life, then my story began when my life mate/soul mate died. Nothing else I have ever experienced unbalanced my world the way his death did. It rocked me to my very core, and I am just now recovering a sense of equilibrium.

In a story, as the character strives to restore the balance, matters get worse. That usually happens in the case of grief, too (though generally not because of anything the bereft did — it’s simply the way life is). In some cases, the bereft had to move soon after the funeral, sending them further into grief. In other cases, more losses followed, leaving the bereft feeling as if they were drowning in death. Sometimes nothing happened, which at times is even worse, since it leaves the bereft alone in a limbo of sorrow.

I am on my way to finding a new balance, but I am not there yet. I still have upsurges of grief, though for the most part the surges are gentler and easier to handle. A few nostalgic tears, a brief indulgence of remembering, an acknowledgement that I miss him and want to go home to him, then I continue on with my life.

My most recent upsurge began on Saturday, always a sad day, and culminated in a walk in the desert. I haven’t called out to him in a long time, though I still talk to him, but today, I desperately needed to feel some sort of connection, so I yelled, “Can you hear me?” He didn’t answer, at least not in any way I understood.

I’m not sure how one finds a new balance after such a devastating imbalance as losing a life mate. Perhaps it’s a matter of making additional changes, the way small controlled fires can help put out major fires. Maybe it’s a matter of continuing to take one step at a time and waiting until the world rights itself. Or it could be a matter of being present, of being in one’s body, of simply being.

I’ve had to make changes, of course — I had to leave our shared home so I could look after my father — and I will be making other changes when this part of my life comes to an end. Meanwhile, I am trying to take life one step at a time, to capture each moment as it comes, to be present in my life, to be. In a story, of course, such passive actions don’t create a compelling plot, but in real life, sometimes “being” is the best we can expect at any given moment.

And anyway, my story hasn’t ended yet. In some respects, it feels as if this new story hasn’t even begun, as if I’m still in the first chapter, sorting out the imbalance.

12 Responses to “A Kinder, Gentler Grief”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I once heard someone say something to another person who couldn’t imagine living without her late boyfriend. He said to her, “Take one step forward at a time. Eventually you’ll figure everything out if you don’t stop walking.” One of the wisest things I’ve ever heard said.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’re right — it is very wise. And it’s true — with enough distance, the unimaginable becomes reality. People say time heals, but it doesn’t. You can’t just sit down and wait for time to work — it’s all those steps you take along the way that help with the healing.

      Have I mentioned how much I have enjoyed talking to you? I’ve appreciated your wise and astute comments.

      • rami ungar the writer Says:

        trust me, i wasn’t always this wise and astute. i used to be quite the handful for my parents (i can still be a little wild every now and then) and i’ve gotten to this point mostly through support of my family and friends and more mistakes than i care to name.
        but still, i’m glad you enjoy talking to me, and thanks for telling me.

  2. Crysta Icore Says:

    I enjoyed your article very much. As I start taking my own baby steps to healing, I just long for another day with my best friend and brother. Thank you for your words.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I still want just one more day, too. I have a hunch, for the rest of our lives, we will yearn for that day, but things do get better.

      • Crysta Icore Says:

        That seems so far off.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          It took me more than two years of one day at a time before things started getting better.

          • Crysta Icore Says:

            My brother’s voice just seems so loud in my head. Feels like I am going crazy.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            That is the nature of grief. It hits us all in different ways, but most of us have felt as if we were going crazy.

            Are you ever any place where no one can hear you? If so, scream. It might provide a bit of relief. That was the only way I could deal with the worst of my grief — just screaming. If you’re not in a place where you can scream, maybe write him a letter, tell him what you are going through and that you miss him. I used to do that all the time — it was another thing that helped me get through the pain and confusion and craziness.

            I truly am sorry for what you are having to deal with.

          • Crysta Icore Says:

            Thank you so much for your kind words and help. You are an inspiration to many.

            I know he loved me just as much as I love him. If he could, he’d be the one to scream for me. Instead I find softer ways to let the sorrow melt from my sad heart.

            Thank you.

          • shadowoperator Says:

            Sometimes, even when you are at odds with a person you love and you lose them, it continues to affect you years later. It can happen when you aren’t even thinking of them consciously. I lost my father when I was 11 1/2, and it’s taken years to work out all of the effects that’s had. But on the subject of screaming to relieve stress, you may find a friendly (and even amusing) recording (it’s on LP, but I think you may be able to get a later CD or Internet play of it) on just that subject. Have you ever heard of Dory Previn, the divorced wife of composer and conductor Andre Previn? She’s written a song called “Twenty-Mile-Zone” on the subject of screaming in her car, and the funny incidents that (did or didn’t actually?) happen when she did it. She was popular in the ’70’s and I think ’80’s, so it was a while ago, but I still recommend it. If nothing else, you can google the lyrics over one of the many lyrics sites on the Internet; they’re funny all by themselves, and the strong sense of sisterhood helps get through a lot of stress too.

          • Pat Bertram Says:

            Thank you for stopping by to tell your story, and especially thank you for telling us about Dory Previn’s song. Made me smile.

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