Today is the three-year anniversary of the day I left our home behind to come look after my then 93-year-old father. I still yearn to go home at times, but not back to the house — back to Jeff, my life mate/soul mate. He was my home. Still, leaving that house was a physical wrench. It was where we had spend two decades together. It is where we were living when he died. It’s where I endured the worst day of my life.
Although I no longer have the gut-wrenching, breath-taking, soul-shattering pain of those first terrible months after Jeff’s dath, I am still amazed how many of the feelings are the same as at the beginning.
Exactly three years ago today, I wrote in my grief journal:
Sometimes I think I’m dramatizing this whole situation, making a big deal out of a natural occurrence, then grief swallows me and I know Jeff’s death and my reaction to it is real.
I’m almost ready to leave, to start the next phase of my life. Will I be happy as my sister suggested? Will things come together for me as Jeff said? Will I stagnate during this transitional phase or will I find a new creativity, a new focus?
I feel like a fledgling being pushed from the nest with no idea of how to use my wings. Whether I look forward to the change or look back in longing, whether I drag my feet or wing it, I’m leaving here. Alone.
I have many doubts and fears, but despite them, I hope I will run to meet my destiny. And if there is no destiny? If there is no happiness for me? Well, I’ll accept whatever comes, both good and bad, with courage.
Today, I still am dealing with doubts and fears, still wondering if there is a destiny to run to meet, still wondering if I will ever be happy, or if this is the way I will always feel. So far, I have not yet found a new focus, though I am trying to fish for life, trying to do new things, to go new places, to be spontaneous.
My life is bound by death, it seems. First my brother’s death, then my mother’s, then Jeff’s, and now . . . Well, my father isn’t near death, but he is declining. Death is not a good way to live. At least not for me. I don’t know how people deal with all this loss. Well, yes, I do — with courage.
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+. Like Pat on Facebook.
June 2, 2013 at 7:40 pm
I can so relate to your second to last paragraph about trying to find a new focus. I am better about accepting my life as it is but I just don’t know what to do with my life. I am checking into volunteering but I don’t know what at yet. I’m looking at helping kids read in elementary school next year, helping at a Hospitality house but it isn’t what I would really like. I live rural on a lake so I am limited to things to do. I have some trips planned, a big one to Naples, Italy in Sept and staying with friends so have that to look forward to but I wish I could find a real passion. I don’t feel I will have another love in my life, even though I would like someone to be with once in awhile. Guess I’m too picky after 52 years with Jim. You put it well when you said you are fishing for a new life. I feel that too. I also don’t understand why my phone doesn’t ring anymore. It seems I am the one that has to ask people if they want to do something. It’s a very difficult journey.
June 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm
Yes, a very difficult journey, and the sorrow isn’t the whole of it. There are so many facets to deal with, the phone not ringing being one of them. I’ve lost friends because of this — they seem to be afraid I will ask them for something they can’t give, or maybe it’s just the reminder that it could happen to them that they can’t handle.
I don’t how to find a passion. I’ve had many passions for various things during my life, but now there are none. Life just seems so flat. Don’t know what to do about that, either.
June 2, 2013 at 8:13 pm
I have a large yard and house to care for and it’s still home so I am not thinking of leaving and actually, I find it good for me to need to take care of it, at least for now. If I moved it wouldn’t be much improvement as I would still be lonely and even more so because I would have to start over meeting people. Plus I don’t know where I would want to go so for now, I will stay here.
Don’t you feel that people don’t want to be around you anymore? They are super friendly but no one calls. I have to do all the overtures and I try to accept that. My children(aged 50) are coming to Ouray this year to camp and this will be the first year I won’t be joining them. Jim and I camped for 45 years. I just decided it is time for me to go a new direction.
June 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm
My only friends now are people I met at a grief group. They call, but no one else does.
I’ve found that the only way I can make sense of his death (well, not make sense of it, that’s not possible. I guess I mean the only I can deal with his death) is to do things he and I never did. I don’t know where that will lead me in the future. For now, I’m just looking after my father and hoping the future will somehow take care of itself.
The loneliness is a killer, though. I don’t know what to do about it except somehow learn to accept it.
June 3, 2013 at 8:19 pm
I live in a big city where many of my close friends are nearby as a consequence of which I can honestly say that I am very rarely lonely – but I am always lonesome; always lonesome for him. The dictionary equate the two words, but to me, to my ear, to my heart there is a difference. I wonder if you will know what I mean.
Pat,it feels like there is a persistent, sometimes dull. sometimes keener undercurrent of disquiet in your writing and it is so relatable. I cannot imagine how I would manage both losing my mate and having to uproot our shared life at the same time. I do know that it would leave me not only deeply grieving for him and our life together, but also feeling lost, unsettled and homeless. I don’t know how you do it. I really don’t. Courage or no courage; it seems to me that you are one tough broad.
June 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm
Yes, I do know what you mean about the difference between lonely and lonesome. I think there will come a time when I am no longer lonely — but I will always be lonesome for him.
You are very astute. My life is unsettled. It’s as if I am in a hiatus at the moment. Not in my life with him, not in my new life alone. There is such an element of waiting to my life, but I don’t know what I am waiting for. When I do leave here, it will be to start over almost as a child, without much of anything, not even wants or needs above the basics. I shouldn’t even have any major issues left (am working through the leftover issues from my childhood by being here and looking after my father). I have no idea how to start over alone. I don’t know how to ignite a new life.
On the other hand, with as well as my father is doing, I could be in this holding pattern for a very long time.
Tough? Maybe, but no more so than anyone of us. As unsettling as this is, I couldn’t have borne living in that same house, always listening for him, always coming home to those empty rooms.
June 6, 2013 at 8:18 pm
Not astute, Pat, just kin. Today is 21 months since he died and also his birthday. I am sure I don’t need to tell you how I feel. I get your point about having to bear living in the same house where we were together.
I still sleep in the same bed, in the same room, in the same house. By now it’s mostly OK, but on “special” days like today, I would give the farm to live anywhere but here; with his ghost. Having to continually pass the spot where he sat the last time I wrapped my arms around him; daily having to use the front steps where I stood and waved at the car that took him away; it never crossing my mind that that would be the last time I would ever see him.
When I *really* think about it – on days like today – it’s still so completely inconceivable to me that he’s gone and then I just break all over again – it seems raw, new, all-encompassing again. Will there always be tears?
June 7, 2013 at 1:41 pm
I have a hunch that in the coming years, it will give you comfort to live in the same house. I bet that those same memories that cause you pain now will give your life a continuity that it wouldn’t otherwise have.
I also think that there will always be tears, but that feeling of the pain being so raw and new will come less frequently. I can see us even welcoming such times in the coming years because it will bring them back to us for a moment if only through the pain.