The Unchanging Face of Grief

Sometimes it amazes me how little things have changed over the course of the three years of grief since the death of my life mate/soul mate. The pain, of course, has dissipated significantly, and I seldom have the falling-elevator feeling of panic at the thought that he is gone. Even the thought of his being dead at the moment isn’t making my stomach churn (though I still don’t like it and never will).

In fact, right now, I’m not feeling much of anything — no great sadness, no inclination to tears, no inclination to anything, if the truth be told. Because of this, I’ve been procrastinating about writing today’s blogpost: upgrading a defunct blog, learning a bit more about some of the widgets wordpress offers. I finally procrastinated so much that I ran out of time and decided to do an excerpt from my grief book as a fill in. And guess what? Exactly three years ago today, I felt the same way as I do now. Just drifting. Marking time. Wandering in the desert. Hoping . . .

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 83, Grief Journal

I’m not doing much. Just drifting. Getting through the days. Pretending to be real. I hope the rest of my life isn’t going to be just marking time like this. It sounds . . . feeble. Mostly I’m babying myself, as if I’m recovering from a long illness. And I am—a soul sickness.

I spend hours every day wandering in the desert. I’m as restless as Jeff was at the end, and walking seems to be the only thing that keeps me pacified. The past couple of weeks have felt like a perfect summer from childhood that was always warm and sunny, at least in memory. It’s been hot here, of course, and windy, but I’ve been roaming like a child newly freed from restrictions.

I hope I am going somewhere. I hope I’m growing, developing, doing something besides stagnating, which is how I feel.

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.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

9 Responses to “The Unchanging Face of Grief”

  1. nivaladiva Says:

    How do you feel about being in the same place as you were three years ago? It seems as if you have healed in some ways, but not in others, and you’re still in the process of redefining yourself.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      This is typical of grief, returning over and over to the same places, each time with a bit less pain and emotion. The so-called stages of grief make it seem as if grief is some sort of staircase you climb until you climb out of the pit, but grief is more like a spiral that slowly winds down but never completely loses its power.

      And yes, I am still in the process of redefining myself. It’s hard to know what I want to be or what I can be. Hard to know what I want at all. It seems as if I know what I don’t want — stagnation — but for the rest of it? I haven’t a clue. This is all made more confusing since I am temporarily stranded in place, looking after my 96-year-old father.

      Thank you for asking.

      • nivaladiva Says:

        Downward spiral vs. upward staircase is a great metaphor and distinction. I feel like I’ve made some progress by knowing the direction I’d like to go, but am still struggling to make it happen. One day you will do the same. It’s a long process. My heart goes out to you, Pat.

  2. Linda Says:

    I can say that I have accepted Jim’s death and don’t cry a lot anymore but that doesn’t mean I like where I’m at. I feel more in control of my life but I have to work hard at it and certainly my biggest issue yet is being alone & quite possibly for the rest of my (young) life at 74 . I just got back from dinner with our good friend who lost his wife last Nov. He lives in AZ with a summer place here in MO. He found a girl friend in 3 mos. and is so happy with her and they have the best time together. Yup, I’m jealous as I can’t imagine finding anyone that special. Why can others find someone so quickly and be so happy even though he will never forget his wife. That irritates me. I should be happy for him(them). I work hard at being single trying to figure out where my new life is going………alone. It’s been 18 mos. for me and I can’t forget that this is a whole new chapter that I have to deal with and it’s not easy, as you know. There now I’ve vented!!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      One of the most wearying aspects of grief is that we can’t simply live. We need to work hard at taking control, redefining our lives, and all the other tasks of grief. We have to make an effort to connect with people since the effortless connection is gone.

      There’s an old saying that “women mourn, men replace”, but it’s only partly true. Some men mourn deeply for many years, and the thought of “replacing” their wife is as anathema to them as it is to some women. And some women do pair up again. I think it has more to do with the fact that there are more available women on the “market” than there are men. So men have an easier time finding someone than women do. Also, women will go for older men more often than men will go for older women, so that skews the availability of partners even more. I know a lot of women, both widowed and divorces, who would love to have a new love or even a companion, but no one is coming along.

      It’s possible that someday we’ll meet someone, but still, we do have to plan for a life alone since that’s what appears to be on the horizon, and it’s hard to do.

      Feel free to vent here any time you want.

  3. Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective Says:

    I would have to say that this journey of grief has been nothing like I imagined it would be when I was unceremoniously dumped on this road eleven years ago.

    I went to a bereaved mother’s meeting not long after Jason died. There was a mother there who was approaching the one year anniversary of her daughter’s death, and she was a total basket case of tears and emotions. I remember thinking, “Isn’t she over it yet? Hasn’t she moved on at least a little bit by now?” Little did I know, at the time, how naive and totally unrealistic the concept is that you can ever “get over” the death of a child. I’m sure the same is true with the death of any dearly loved person, be it spouse, life partner, parent or child. The longing, the missing, the “returning over and over to the same places” never goes away. I miss Jason as much today as I did eleven years ago.

    I’m so grateful for your writings. Thank you.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m glad my writing helps. Like you, my experience with grief was nothing like I expected. It’s good that so many people are talking about grief now and that it isn’t shunted off to a dark corner where no one sees it, but I have a hunch grief at such terrible losses will always come as a surprise to the newly bereft. It’s so global — encompassing mental, emotional, spiritual, physical upheavals that even now I have a hard time believing the truth of it.

      Wishing you peace today, and happy memories.

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: