1000 days have passed since the death of my life mate/soul mate.
1000 days. An incomprehensible number. At the beginning, I could not imagine living one more hour let alone one more day in such pain. And yet now 1000 of those days have passed and I don’t know where they went or how I survived them.
Even more incomprehensible, while I remember being in absolute agony those early months, beset by panic attacks, gut spasms, loss of breath, inability to grip things and hundreds of other physical and emotional affects, there is an element of blank to the memories, as if it were someone else in such distress. I remember screaming to the winds, though I can’t exactly recall what it felt like to be so stressed that only screaming could relieve the pain. I remember feeling as if I would die if I did not hear his voice, see his smile, feel his arms around me one more time. I remember the horrible feeling of goneness I was left with, as if half my soul had been wrenched from my body leaving an immeasurable void, but now I am bewildered by it all. Was that really me — staid, stoic me — lost in such an emotional maelstrom?
Most incomprehensible of all, as recently as a month or two ago, I was still subject to occasional flashes of raw agony, but even those seem far removed now. I still have times of tears, and probably always will have. How could I not? Someone whose very breath meant more to me than my own is gone — gone where, I do not know. But I no longer feel as if half of me has been amputated. I am just me now, not a shattered, left-behind half of a couple. Or maybe I have simply become used to this new state, as if this is the way my life has always been.
I still hate that he’s dead, but I’m also aware that his death has set me free. I spent many years watching him waste away, numbing myself to his pain, waking every morning to the possibility that he hadn’t lasted the night, dreading the end, worrying if I were up to the task of fulfilling his final wishes. All that is gone now, though the feelings of dread and worry and doubt inexplicably lasted way into this third year of grief. I used to think that grief was his final gift to me — despite the angst and agony, I embraced grief like a friend. I knew instinctively it would take me where I needed to go.
But now I know freedom was his final gift, though it was as unwanted and as unasked for as the grief. I haven’t learned yet what to do with this freedom. Perhaps if I embrace it as I did my grief, it will also take me where I need to go.
I’m still so very sad, though I am more at peace than I have been for a long time. In fact, the same photo of him that was too painful for me even to peek at for more than eighteen months after his death, now sometimes makes me smile. It might take me the rest of my life to puzzle out the meaning of our shared life, our incredibly bond, his death — if in fact there is a meaning — but what I’m left with right now is the knowledge that for whatever reason, he shared his life with me. He shared his dying. And then he set me free.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+
December 20, 2012 at 2:23 pm
I wish you peace and joy and courage to face the future-:)
December 20, 2012 at 2:30 pm
A very beautiful testamonial to love. Thank you for sharing
December 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm
We continue to walk these days-one at a time- only to reach 1,000 of them today. It is hard to believe and, like you, I do not know how I survived the loss of my incredible husband. This painful journey will ultimately lead each of us to greater peace and meaning moments. Peace to your heart, Mary
December 20, 2012 at 5:42 pm
You are coming out of the dreadful parts of grief. That’s good. I am starting over with my grief. My husband died October 16, and my son died December 3. His death was unexpected. It still seems unreal. God bless you, Pat. I know we never get over it. We walk through it.
December 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm
Carol, I am so sorry about your son. Oh, jeez. That’s tough enough to deal with, but so soon after your husband? My heart goes out to you.
December 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm
Carol Ann can I, (a total stranger I know but nevertheless), add my heartfelt sorrow that you have experienced this loss.
December 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm
Grieving is a difficult journey, but I’m glad to know that you’re making your way through it and recognizing positive changes. Blessings to you as you face the challenges in each new day.
December 21, 2012 at 10:58 am
It’s a slow process, and I am still a long way from where I need to be, but then, maybe we always are, no matter what our circumstances. It’s what keeps us going.
December 21, 2012 at 12:19 pm
This is going to sound strange, but having a photo of J is actually very comforting. I now have a face to go with the idea of him. Makes him real, I suppose. Which probably sounds weird, but I mean it in the best possible way. Have a nice Christmas with your dad. I’m sure having you there will make all the difference to him.
December 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm
This photo was taken fifteen years ago at my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. At the time it was a perfect likeness, but when I looked at the photo after he died, it didn’t look like him at all. Eventually, this will be the only image I have of him in my mind, and I decided that’s okay. I’d rather remember him like this than what he looked like near the end.
December 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm
gorgeous photo Pat…I envy (in a gentle way) the connection you both had. And a beautiful post Pat.
December 22, 2012 at 3:02 pm
Thank you, Leesa.
December 22, 2012 at 2:55 pm
Reblogged this on Leesis Ponders and commented:
This is the grieving process. Not ‘stages’ but acknowledgement of the pain…willingness to feel and not to avoid and the determination to put one foot in front of the other no matter what. For a long time I have read and sometimes commented on Pat’s journey. I started when Jeff had only been dead for three months.
If you want to understand the grief proccess don’t read the Kubler Ross model…Read Pat’s journey.
December 22, 2012 at 3:03 pm
Thank you for the encouraging words you left on the reblog of this piece. I don’t know how I instinctively knew that I needed to acknowledge the pain, to feel everything, and still put one foot in front of the other, but I knew I needed to process it in such a way that it wouldn’t cripple me emotionally. I have always appreciated your support — it helped to know that you were watching my back in case I got lost in the pain.
December 22, 2012 at 6:10 pm
I feel when this happens to me, I will die and find my loved one in the next life
December 22, 2012 at 8:14 pm
Truly, I thought that’s the way if would be with me, but life had other plans. I hope it never happens to you, but if it does, you will find that you are much stronger than you ever imagined.
August 26, 2014 at 7:37 pm
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December 9, 2017 at 4:31 pm
[…] friend left this comment on yesterday’s post. Your blog titled 1000 Days of Grief read: “But now I know freedom was his final gift, though it was as unwanted and as unasked for […]
June 8, 2020 at 6:24 am
Coming up to my 1000th day on July 1 2020. You absolutely nailed it.
June 8, 2020 at 7:09 am
Wishing you peace on that day, and beyond.