Facing My New Year With Courage and Wisdom

Yesterday was the third anniversary of my life mate/soul mate’s death. It turned out to be a nice day, and only intermittently sad. One of my fellow bereft sent me an email, “Is it wrong to wish that it’s just another day for you? Maybe it is, but I hope that you can acknowledge it with a nod and then let the day become like any other. We can’t make shrines out of these anniversaries. I’m weary of worshiping a ghost. I’m trying very hard to listen to this advice as I prepare my own countdown.”

Her message was exactly right, and I hoped for the same thing, that I could acknowledge the anniversary with a nod and then let the day become like any other. It’s important for me to remember him, but instead of remembering the horror and sadness of his death, I would rather remember that I loved him, that he was a special man, that he lived — and died — courageously.

The day turned out to be not just a day like any other, but better — a day of peace and friendship, a day apart from my daily responsibilities and cares.

I’d planned to go to lunch with friends I met through my grief group, but at the last minute, I almost reneged. I was teetering on the brink of sadness, and wasn’t sure if I could handle being around so many people, but I donned my “glad rags” (black hat I’d decorated with red poppies and matching red shirt and black slacks) and kept the appointment. Whether it was the silliness of the hat or the power of the black and red clothes, I felt uplifted and was able to enjoy the lunch. Since it was more to celebrate another woman’s birthday, we only gave a passing nod to my anniversary, which was good — I didn’t want to dwell too much on missing him. Afterward, one of these friends went walking with me in the desert, which was especially nice. I got to see the desert through her eyes, and I got to show her my “back yard.”

Today I start a new year. (In many respects, this is more of a birthday for me than the anniversary of my birth because after he died, I was born into a new life.) I’m not sure what I hope from this year. Peace, of course, but perhaps also adventure and challenge. (Sounds oxymoronic, doesn’t it?) But mostly, I want to accept whatever comes with the same courage and wisdom that helped me face the past three years.


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 “Facing My New Year With Courage and Wisdom”

  1. lvgaudet Says:

    I’m glad you did go. There is no time line on grief, and loved ones should never be pushed aside and forgotten for being gone from our lives, but rather should be fondly remembered instead as you continue living. Those who loved you would want you to.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Lori, very true — there is no time line on grief. It waits waits patiently for me now until I have time for it. It’s not like at the beginning where it was so insistent on being acknowledged.

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    That is some wisdom on grief. And speaking of which, you came up in my creative writing class yesterday Pat: we were discussing this short story where a character went missing and the family had to deal with her disappearance. And we were giving the author all these suggestions, and I said, “You remember that part where one of the sisters is teaching a yoga class to give her something to help her cope and her mother and younger sister go to support her? Why not have it be a yoga class for those who are grieving? I have a friend who went to one of those groups, she said the group was for people who’d lost someone dear to them. And instead of the sister teaching the class, why not just have all 3 attend at the sister’s behest?” It went really well with the class and the teacher.
    And sorry if any of those details were messed up, I was just trying to remember something you’d mentioned before.

  3. Maureen Fisher Says:

    A very touching blog on your grief, courage, and quiet determination to come to terms with your pain. I’m glad you have such good friends to help you.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      We all met at a grief group, which helps cut through the usual tiptoeing you do around new people, so we became good friends quickly. We’d never have gotten this far without each other’s encouragement.

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