Three Years of Grief

Today is, unexpectedly, a day like any other. So far, on this, the third anniversary of the death of my life mate/soul mate, I’ve experienced no great upsurges of grief, just that perpetual thread of sadness that bastes my life together.

During those first months of grief, my focus was completely on him, on his absence, on the horrendous feeling of goneness that his death left me with. It was as if by thinking of him, by holding him close in my thoughts, by reliving the horror of his final weeks, that somehow I could undo what had happened to him. But the years have taught me what logic didn’t — that he is gone and nothing I do or think or say or hope or pray will bring him back.

During his last days, he became childlike in his needs and actions (as if the combination of the cancer that spread to his brain and the drugs that kept the pain at bay killed the man, leaving only the inner child behind), which confused the issue in my mind. For a long time after his death, I panicked, wondering how he could take care of himself, wishing I could be there to calm his fears and his restless spirit, longing to hold him in my arms and keep him safe.

It’s only recently that the truth hit me. He was an adult, not a child, and except at the end, was more than capable of taking care of himself. Besides, if he does still exist somewhere, he is ageless, timeless, beyond any need of me and my feeble ministrations. (Feeble because nothing I could do erased a single moment of his pain or kept him alive one more day.)

There is an element of blank to my grief — an incomprehension of what it’s all about. I remember how grief feels, though I’m far enough along in the grief process that I have a hard time believing I was that shattered woman so lost in pain. But I don’t know the truth of life and death, and I’m not sure we humans are capable of understanding. And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It keeps us focused on our lives and not on . . . well, whatever else is out there.

Although time has insulated me from the rawness of my grief, and although my grief work has brought me to the point where I can once again see possibilities and feel hope, there is one thing I will never lose — that great yearning to see him one more time. To hear his voice. See his smile. To hold him tightly as if I would never let him go. But I have let him go. I let him go three years ago, not allowing my needs to bind him to his life of pain.

And I need to let him go now.

Well, here it is — the upsurge in grief I didn’t feel when I started writing this post. Tears are running down my face. I know I need to let him go, to let go of the grief that binds us together still, but not today. Today I will remember. And grieve.


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.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing. Connect with Pat on Google+

7 Responses to “Three Years of Grief”

  1. leener814 Says:

    Sometimes there is nothing left to do but hang your head and cry. You’re allowed. While moving on with life is admirable, protecting love is a much higher service. Regardless of what happens after we shrug off this mortal coil, your love EXISTS. You honor that love and you honor your soul mate in your memories and recollections and, mostly, in your love. Life asks that we feel everything, so feel it. Then, if you can, when it’s time, pack it away for another occasion. Each time, the grief will feel different but the love will remain. And that’s okay.
    Wishing you peace.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I like that — protecting love. Love continues to be important, even if the person is not here, and you’re right. Love does exist. It’s a good thing to remember.

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Pat: you’re incredibly strong. Don’t ever forget that.

  3. Malene Says:

    What leener said is so true. I also want you to know that I felt the tears in your post and, of course, it made me weep too. In a strange way, I am thankful to you when that happens. So, thank you!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Sometimes if I stumble across a previous grief post, I can feel the tears, too, and I wonder why anyone would read such painful articles, but we do need the tears, especially shared tears. It’s how we bereft connect over the distance. We also need to know that some things in life are more important than television shows, celebrities, fashion, or whatever it is that consumes the public mind.

  4. Ree` Edwards Says:

    Always read your posts and comments regarding the loss of your dear husband. That in part to see how you are progressing (for want of a better word) and reading your responses to them. Your last comment “We also need to know that some things in life are more important than television shows, celebrities, fashion, or whatever it is that consumes the public mind” is what prompted me to write this.
    I have a small magnet on my range hood that I’ve read more times than I can count and is as follows: “The most important things in life aren’t things.” Often times in this fast paced, hectic, sometimes crazy world we live in we forget, or worse yet tend to take for granted, what is truly important – those we love the most. I remember well when my dear husband and me re-newed our vows on our 25th (church, reception dinner, and all and our daughters idea) and how I loved him more then than the day I married him. I told him then, and it still goes, “I’ll love you until the day I die.” And I will. I’m nearing the 11th anniversary of his leaving and it’s as true today as when I said it.
    I have loved one since (something I thought was totally impossible!) and kept it to myself. Now at times I wonder if I did the right thing for the wrong reason. I didn’t think I could take another loss, especially losing my son at the hands of another so soon after my hubby’s demise. Since then? I’ve decided that, should God place another in my path and those ‘feelings occur and are mutual’? Even now, in the Autumn of my life, I think I would rather risk losing again than being alone and not feeling that wonderful companionship and love. So hang in there girl, you just never know what’s around that next bend on this path we call life.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Whatever you did, you did because it was all you could handle at the time. We bereft except so much from ourselves, when often all we can do is put one foot in front of the other. It is a consideration, one not to be taken lightly, about whether you could handle another such loss, and you’ve had so many. It’s a great step forward to be at the point of thinking that some things are worth taking another risk for.

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