Excerpt From “Grief: The Great Yearning” — Day 23

So many people have told me lately that I should write a book about grief, that I realized somehow I’m not getting the point across — I did write a book about grief, and it’s been published now for over a year.

I never actually set out to write a book about grief, never planned to make any of my writing public (except for the blog posts, of course), but I was so lost, so lonely, so sick with grief and bewildered by all I was experiencing, that the only way I could try to make sense of it all was to put my feelings into words. Whether I was writing letters to Jeff (my deceased life mate/soul mate) or simply pouring out my feelings in a journal, it helped me feel close to him, as if, once again, I was talking things over with him. The only problem was, I only heard my side of the story.  He never told me how he felt about his dying and our separation. Did he feel as broken as I did? Did he feel amputated? Or was he simply glad to be shucked of his body, and perhaps even of me?

It’s been three years now since the following piece was written, and though I don’t have the physical trauma and emotional agony, I’m still lost, still miss him, still pinning my life mostly on “perhaps.” How did I get through three years of such great yearning? I honestly don’t know other than by taking life one step at a time.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 23, Grief Journal

I was lonely last year with Jeff spending so much time in bed, but now I am so lonely I feel bleak. And bereft. There seems to be little reason to live. No, I am not suicidal, but if I were to die today, I would not care.

I feel as if I am disappearing, fading from life, and all that is left is pain. How anyone gets through this, I do not know. And for what? Life didn’t seem foolish when Jeff was alive. I always knew we were meant for each other, but I never realized that he was my tie to life, to wanting to live. Finding that desire in myself right now is next to impossible. All I see are tenuous hopes and promises of pain. It’s not enough. Not nearly enough.

Do I need someone in order for my life to have meaning? Sounds weak. But isn’t love a major component of life? I know people survive quite nicely on their own, managing to find purpose, but I am so lost. So unhappy.

Perhaps the future holds something good for me, but that is such a silly word to pin my life on, yet that’s all I have—“perhaps”. Jeff no longer even has that. I’m trying to find comfort in knowing he is no longer suffering, and for a moment yesterday I even envied him. I wish my pain were over, too.

I’ve developed a terrible fear of dying. I could not handle dying the way Jeff did. It took him so long—years of getting sicker and weaker. Years of pain. I’m truly glad he isn’t suffering any more; I just wish he never had to suffer at all. Wish he were here, happy and healthy.

So many foolish wishes. Nothing I can say or do will change anything. The past is done. Finished. It scares me that I have no clear image of him in my mind, but my mind has never been a pictorial one—it’s more about feelings and impressions.

I miss him. Miss his fleeting sweet smiles. He had so little to smile about, yet he did smile at me. Did I return his smiles? I hope so. I loved him. Even when I could barely tolerate him (and there were such moments), I still loved him.

Click here to find out more about Grief: The Great Yearning


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+

4 Responses to “Excerpt From “Grief: The Great Yearning” — Day 23”

  1. Paula Kaye Says:

    I have days like that right now And I feel so guilty. I can barelly tolerate him sitting there in that chair dying. And I am so mad at him. I know that my grief will overwhelm me. But right now I just have to BE.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I was thinking about this today, about how I was so angry at him for being weak and sick and not himself. What sort of idiot does that? A human one, I guess. From my grief posts, you might think our life was ideal, but that last year was hell. He wasn’t himself, I couldn’t tolerate the person he’d become, he couldn’t tolerate me. Afterward, I realized the cancer in his brain caused those changes in him, but while it was going on, it was maddening. I’d grit my teeth and clench my hands when he’d go on and on (by then, we couldn’t carry on a conversation because he couldn’t keep track of a back and forth exchange). Six weeks before he died we had the only real fight we ever had. I screamed at him and slammed the door. I didn’t know, of course, he’d be dead in six weeks. It was really hard dealing with the guilt and regrets afterward. What made it worse was that we’d spent that whole day talking and reconnecting, and I remembered why I’d loved him all those years.

      Mostly, though, I was numb. I couldn’t bear what was happening to him. Couldn’t bear what was happening to me. So I just did the best I could. One of the reasons why my grief was so hard is that in addition to grief, I had all the suppressed emotion dumped on me all at once.

      From my experience, I do know this — you will do the best you can.

  2. Malene Says:


    Subconsciously, I think I come here when I need to “get in touch with” the pain of my grief. I just read the post above, and oh boy how I remember those days and those sentiments. You express them so concisely. As unique as our individual grief journeys may be, they are, seemingly, concurrently universal. A paradox perhaps and yet true. I weep again. I miss him so much,still. Every day. Yesterday marked 21 months.

    As always, thank you!!!


    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s one of the many things that surprised me about grief, that what we experience is both unique and universal.

      I’m so sorry about the 21 months. Isn’t it amazing how those months just disappear? At the beginning we don’t think we can survive another hour, and then suddenly, monthes and years have gone by.

      Thinking of you and wishing you peace.

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