A woman who lost her life mate/soul mate around the same time as I lost mine told me about an insignificant event that briefly stirred up her low-lying grief, and then she said, “I wonder if I were grieving for grief.”
It sounds strange, but the truth is, we do grieve for grief. Grief for a spouse or a soul mate is so all-consuming, that it fills, in a strange sort of way, the hole they left in our life. Grief, as hard as it is, makes us feel, which makes us feel alive. Grief keeps us connected, if only by pain, to our mates. Grief reminds us that we once loved, and perhaps were loved in return. Grief gives us a glimpse of the vastness of life and the void of death and makes our existence feel important, makes us feel important. When grief passes, we have none of those things, just an emotional and spiritual emptiness. And so we grieve for the loss of our grief. Eventually, I hope, we will find something to replace grief, as grief replaced our love, but who knows what that will be and when or if it will come.
One of the tasks of grief is to help disconnect us from the past so that we can embrace the future while living as fully in the present as possible without being stuck forever in the half-life of loving someone who is dead. Then, of course, we have the problem of disconnecting ourselves from the grief. Disconnecting from grief is a much easier task, of course, since we don’t really thrive on pain (I don’t, anyway. Never have been much of a masochist), but still, whether we welcomed it or not, grief does become our life. It’s how we connect to the world and ourselves. It’s how we move past the trauma of losing the one person we loved more than anyone else in the world. It’s how we bridge the gap between the meaninglessness of death and finding new meaning in life.
I can see that as my grief is waning, I am disconnecting from my life mate/soul mate. Or maybe it’s the other way around, as I’m disconnecting from him, my grief is waning. Either way, I’ve come to the realization that although it seemed we were connected soul to soul, my mate and I are/were two separate people. For a while we traveled the same road, but now we are on separate journeys. After he was gone, I had grief as a constant companion, urging me forward, but now, with the waning of grief, I see the bleakness of myself alone, fading, dying.
But that’s not all there will be, nor is it necessarily the truth. I have years, maybe decades of life in me still. It’s just a matter of finishing the tasks of grief, of grieving briefly for the loss of grief, then heading out on the highway of life and seeing what comes my way. Sounds easy and life-affirming, doesn’t it? I wonder if the coming leg of the journey will be as hard as all the rest.
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.
June 29, 2013 at 9:39 am
It is so frightening for me to think that I will be grieving for years……
June 29, 2013 at 11:08 am
You are doing so much of your grief work now, facing the truth and dealing with your feelings, that you might not grieve for years, though you will always miss him.
July 6, 2013 at 8:48 pm
I am so sorry for your loss, deeply sorry…
Grieving is the most difficult & weirdest journey of my life and it seems infinite and it probably will be, I know I lost a part of me when I lost both my Mom and Dad within six months of one another. Afterall, they brought me into this world, shaped me as a human being far more than I ever knew until they were both gone. Today, I went to a box of clothes of my Mom’s I had put away, clothes I brought home from the hospital after she passed on, and I stood there staring down at them and one by one I took each piece of clothing and covered my face with it trying desperately to inhale her scent once more. What I inhaled were washed clothing void of my Mom’s sweet scent and I cried uncontrollably for a while then walked in my kitchen and said “this is way too much…”
July 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm
It is hard. I have a hunch that whenever we come across something that reminds us of our loved ones, there will always be an upsurge of sorrow, but I also suspect those times will be fewer and fewer. I am finding that it’s easier to bear the absence when the grief isn’t so fierce — at those times, it’s almost like he’s in another room.
Wishing you peace.
March 29, 2015 at 4:26 pm
I read what you wrote and although it makes perfectly good sense, truth is I am choosing to stay stuck in a world where my mate was my everything for nearly 40 years. He was mine since I was 14 and I not only not know how to go on, I don’t want to. HE HAS BEEN GONE FOR 4 YEARS
March 29, 2015 at 4:39 pm
It’s just so damn hard. It’s been five years for me, and I still miss him. I don’t think we ever get over it. I am going forward, but I really have no choice. I came to look after my father after Jeff died, and now that my father’s gone and the house sold, I have to do something and go somewhere. I try to be excited about the future, but all I want to do is go home to Jeff. I guess we just do the best we can.