Grief Update — Thirty Months of Survival

My life mate/soul mate/best friend died two and a half years ago today. Thirty months. Written out like that, thirty months seems like a very long time, but looking back, it’s no time at all. It takes three to five years to find renewed life after such a grievous loss, or so I’ve been told, and I am only halfway there. It might seem to you as if this talk of grief means I do nothing but cry for him, but the truth is, I do quite well, with only a few unshed tears stinging my eyes now and again.

Feelings other than sadness are beginning to arise, though.

Throughout all these months, I’ve tried not to use the word “loss” when referring to my deceased mate because he isn’t misplaced, he is dead. But now, sometimes out of the blue, I’ll get that dropping elevator feeling of having misplaced something — something of untold value or something I desperately need — and I don’t know where or how I lost it. This sensation is not connected to any memory of him, and is not the same as the feeling of bereftness or yearning I so often had during the first couple of years, but still it makes the world seem precarious and alien at times.

Most things are getting better — I do not have the unimaginable pain I experienced in the beginning. Nor does the yearning for him claw at me, though I still miss him, still long for one more smile, still wish for one more word. But something is getting worse, something akin to a soul thirst or a soul hunger. For many years, being with him satisfied a need in me that I wasn’t aware of. Perhaps a recharging of my energy after a long day or maybe a regeneration of spirit. (For someone who writes and thinks as much as I do, I should be able to come up with a word to describe this need, but I only know it as a void, as something I once had but am no longer getting.) When I am hungry and do not eat, I get hungrier. When I am thirsty and do not drink, I get thirstier. And when this particular soul need is not slaked, I get needier.

I am finding other ways of fulfilling the roles he played in my life. Wherever he was, there was my home, and now I’m learning to find home wherever I might be. He was my playmate for many years before he got too ill, and now I have friends to do things with — have lunch, go to festivals and fairs, take yoga classes (and maybe Tai Chi — something I’ve always wanted to do). There is no one with whom I can talk to about all the things he and I used to discuss, but I can spread those topics around, discussing each with a different friend.

But so far I have not found a way around the role he filled for electrifying my spirit, (for lack of a better word). Walking in the desert helps, being with friends helps, but neither of those things sustains me once they are over. Perhaps a new love — another person or a passion — would help, but I am too new for another relationship (I’m still learning how to be me), and so far something to care passionately about remains beyond my reach.

I hope you understand that I am merely chronicling yet another step on my journey and not feeling sorry for myself or asking for pity. I once had something that few people get to experience — a soul connection with another human being. It was not always a happy or comfortable connection — at various times we both railed against it — but through it all, the good times and the bad, we were together.

I saw a plaque today: We can do anything as long as we’re together. I really believed that when he and I were together, we could do anything, though it turned out not to be true. We couldn’t make him well. We couldn’t keep him from dying. And now, we are not together, have not been together for thirty months, and will not be together for the rest of my life.

A person can get used to anything, so eventually I will get used to plodding along without that galvanizing connection with him, but for now, I’m still trying to find my way.

7 Responses to “Grief Update — Thirty Months of Survival”

  1. Mary Friedel-Hunt Says:

    As you and I both honor our beloveds (30 months today)…I “eventually will get used to plodding along without that galvanizing connection with him, but for now, I’m still trying to find my way.” How grateful I am that March 27, 2010 is as special to one other person on this planet as it is to me…and how neat that we met. Missing him more and more….

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      As the world turns and those who know us forget our loss, it is nice to know that there is one person who will never forget. I wish with all my heart that neither of us ever had to deal with their deaths, but I am grateful to have a companion in grief.

  2. Holly Bonville Says:

    I’m managing fairly well too in spite of all the upheaval trying to sell the house, and waiting for that to happen. But there is no joy. Going home at the end of a day is just going home. Then I eat, sleep, and do it all over again. Still in limbo, still adjusting.

  3. leesis Says:

    Pat not everyone has or will forget your loss. I like your expression ‘soul hunger’. I wonder if your still following up on some of those questions you had earlier about death, and meaning and how it relates to life. For me these are essential questions but unfortunately many people drop them after the crisis time has past…because it is more comfortable to do so or because they are convinced there are no answers and I think this is a shame…and opportunity lost. This may not at all relate to your feelings at the moment and it may be a case of aloneness that makes you thirst but it was just a thought. With love as always.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I will always have questions, but for now I’m not tormenting myself with them but trying to “be” to see what answers percolate to the surface or maybe see a way deeper into the mysteries. I’m also trying to believe I am where I am supposed to be, even though it seems as if I am nowhere at all.

      I know loneliness is a big factor. I never minded being alone, but this is something way beyond simply being alone. I try to tell myself that not everyone has someone or had someone, but it doesn’t help. This is my situation, not anyone else’s, and I miss not only him, but feeling as if I were part of something special because of our connection. I feel diminished, though I am trying not to, hence the breathing excercises, the wider stride, etc.

      I keep telling myself thirty months is not much at all, especially when compared to thirty-four years of being with someone, but part of me feels I should be beyond the sadness, though why I think that, I don’t know. I’m trying to be patient with myself, though sometimes that is hard, too. This can’t be all there is, this loneliness and sadness, interspersed with moments of peace or companionship.

      • leesis Says:

        that part Pat that talks in ‘shoulds’ is often a result of beliefs developed over a life time that become unconscious yet impact deeply on our reactions. In a world where logic is held as the end all emotion is scorned, treated almost as a disability. Personally I find this a key factor in peoples struggle to be ‘where they are at’ for lack of a better way to put it. Your emotional self can’t possibly be adapted to the changes that have occured in the past thirty months. Your heart was connected for 34 years…you were connected to another for 34 years. This connection has gone and to think that you would not still be feeling the loss, to think you would be beyond sadness…well that does not recognize the value Jeff had in your life.

        No Pat, this isn’t all there is, its just where you are now and like all of the other places you’ve been it will change too. But it is where you are at now and requires honouring for what it is. Keep questioning, keep exploring and respect every emotion that arises as you have done all along. with love…Leesa

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