A Palliative for the Brokenhearted

warriorThree years ago, a yoga teacher and fitness instructor living in Holland got tired of the cold, and so her husband put in a transfer to a warmer climate.

Three years ago, I was living a thousand miles away from the high desert in another state, watching my life mate/soul mate die.

Six months ago, that teacher’s life and mine crossed paths. A friend asked me to accompany her to an introductory therapy yoga class (a class geared toward each person’s abilities and disabilites), and there I met the woman from Holland, who was teaching the class. (She wasn’t from Holland originally. She was actually from California, but she’d living all over the world for the past two decades.)

At that yoga class, I began to come alive. Grief pulls you into yourself, huddling you against the pain, and the thrust of her classes was to open us up to the universe, to new experiences, and to ourselves. My friend dropped out after those introductory classes, but I was hooked. Coincidentally, all the women who remained in the class were in various stages of recovering from the deaths of their husbands, and we formed a bond with each other and with our globetrotting teacher. It was a rare and magical experience, the electric highlight of my week, but magic has a way of dissipating. The teacher was offered a wonderful job in another city that used all of her skills (and paid her a phenomenal amount of money), and she couldn’t turn it down.

Although I felt devastated when she made her announcement, I am trying to consider the ending of the class as a graduation. When a student is ready, a teacher appears, or so it said, and in my case it was true. So perhaps it is also true that when the student is ready, the teacher disappears. Perhaps I have learned from her what I need to know to continue on to the next stage of my life.

But this is all prelude to what I really want to talk about. Whenever I have mentioned how distressed I was at the loss of this class, the response has universally been, “Find another yoga class.” Ummm. Yeah. Find another confluence of people and events that come together from thousands of miles away to create a magical, electric, and life-affirming moment. Sure, I’ll get right on it.

This seems to be the response for every loss. Get a new class, a new life, a new soul mate. Is it really that easy for people to do? Or is it simply that it’s easy to say, a palliative for the brokenhearted?

I realize that soon I will need to find a new life, but as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, it’s not as if I can go to the mall and search the aisles at Lifes ‘R’ Us until I find a new life that fits properly and looks good. I’ve never really wanted anything or anyone, but out of the blue, my life mate/soul mate dropped into my life, bringing (for a while anyway) radiance and excitement, and then later companionship, but now that he’s out of my life, I’m back to not wanting anything. If I did want something, I’d go after it, but I don’t want what is out there to get. (Or maybe I mean I don’t want what I know is out there to get. For example, I’d never considered doing yoga, had no interest in it whatsoever, and yet out of the blue, the yoga teacher dropped into my life.)

Mostly I’m taking the need for a new life in stride. Whatever happens, happens. Wherever I go, there I go. It doesn’t seem to really matter — something will drop into my life or it won’t. Either way, I’ll deal with it.

The only thing I know (or rather, suspect) is that I will not remain here in the high desert. Because of the yoga teacher and her class, for the first time I’d been contemplating staying in the area so I could continue taking instruction from her, and her getting a new job seems to be a clear sign that my future doesn’t lie here. But then again, I don’t really believe in signs . . .


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+

11 Responses to “A Palliative for the Brokenhearted”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Life’s a path, and what happens along that path is a series of seemingly random events with an algorithm that cannot be gauged by human minds. I think you’ve done a great job navigating that path on your own Pat, and when you find certain things, such as the yoga path, perhaps life is throwing you something for you to pick up on the path.
    I bet further along, something great is waiting for you, because you truly have a way with words and with helping others who are experiencing grief. I think that points to something big down the proverbial road for you.

  2. Mrs Hunter Says:

    Get a new class, a new life, a new soul mate. Is it really that easy for people to do? Or is it simply that it’s easy to say, a palliative for the brokenhearted?

    I posted what could be construed as a response to this question on my blog (see “On Gypsy-hood”). Even if you’re constantly moving and accustomed to it, as I am, it’s hard to find peace. It remains as elusive as that thing called contentment. “New” becomes old rather quickly. Perhaps, this is a character flaw of mine (bore easily) and perhaps a broken heart is a medal of its own kind.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I don’t like to move very often, but I’ve become so afraid of stagnating now that I’m alone, that a gypsy life seems attractive. Perhaps we can both find something in the middle — a lifestyle that brings peace without stagnation and boredom.

  3. Juliana Says:

    This has been just what I needed today. Thanks. I too feel like I’m in a holding pattern. I honestly believe that in order to go on to the next stage of my life; I have to remain in the holding pattern for a while. I’ve chased so many new answers for finding happiness, and they haven’t panned out. If anything, I’ve found a lot of things I don’t want. I don’t want to replace my husband, because he is irreplaceable. I too am hoping to find that peace within that allows me to break out of this protective shell that I seem to be in. Right now, I need that armor to figure out what my next move should be so that I don’t chase another pipe dream. Waiting is the hardest part of this whole grief process…but I think it’s necessary.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Juliana, be patient with yourself. This waiting stage can take years. (Three to five, according to what I’ve heard.)

      I wish you peace. This is such a hard journey we are on, made worse because we are grieving the one person we always counted on for support, and he is not here to offer it.

      • Juliana Says:

        Thank you for the three to five year information. I expect too much of myself. It seems that everyone else expects too much of me too. I’m tired of avoiding people for fear I will make them uncomfortable. I find that I am most comfortable at home with my pets…and my books, of course.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          Therapists and such folk tend not to tell us the three to five year information for fear of scaring us, which could be true during those first unbelievably painful months, but as grief continues past the first year, it is important to know that there will come a time when life feels worth living again. I know I hold on to that thought because I too expect too much of myself.

          We grieve long after those close to us think we should have stopped, and even long after we think we should have stopped, but what’s amazing to me is that we live through it at all. How can we continue to survive when our heart is shattered and half our soul ripped out? But we do survive. We might even thrive eventually, though whatever peace and happiness we find will always live alongside our grief. It’s the price we pay, I guess, for loving so deeply. Perhaps it’s the deep capacity of our love that enables us to find the ability to embrace life again.

          Peace, my friend.

          • Juliana Says:

            Your reasoning is right on and beautifully said, Pat. I believe that the depth of the love determines the depth of the grief. I could never imagine being without Ken, even though he was a pilot and crashed three times. I thought he was invincible. Now there’s a shattered illusion.

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