Another Stage of Waning Grief

Yesterday I wrote about how I am now feeling three and a third years after the death of my life mate/soul mate. I admitted I wasn’t feeling much. My life seems empty. There’s no oomph. No spark.

I wish I wanted something, was in love with something, felt something besides ever-fading sorrow. But I don’t know how to go from where I am to where I need to be.

And it’s not just me who feels this way. From the comments and emails I received, it seems as if many others who also lost their mates in 2010 feel the same as I do. Some people who lost their mates that year are in new relationships, have done something opening roseequally significant to jump-start their life, or have children to raise by themselves, but unless fate intervenes, the rest of us have to figure out how to accomplish a new beginning by ourselves. And we haven’t a clue how to do it.

I basically live the same way now as I did when I was coupled, but what took on significance when it was for “us” seems lame when it’s just for me. It’s not that I don’t think I’m worthy — of course I do because I am. It’s more that when the two of us were together, everything we did somehow seemed to help build our shared life. Every idea seemed to expand “us.” Every finished project seemed to fulfill “us.” Even something as simple as jointly preparing a meal was for “us.” Each of those things was also an act of love, a commitment to each other, even if it didn’t seem so at the time, which made them doubly or triply significant.

Now a meal is just a meal. A project finished is nothing more than a task completed. A bright idea is simply blog fodder.

If I were new, starting out in life for the first time, none of this would be a problem since everything is new and exciting when one is young, but I’ve done most of what I wanted to, or at least tried to do it. To be honest, the things I wanted to do were essentially cerebral — reading, researching, thinking, writing. I haven’t traveled the world but never wanted to. Haven’t lived lavishly but see no need for it. Haven’t partied till I dropped but never had the energy for it. I have done volunteer work but now there’s no cause I’m passionate about. (I’m still doing volunteer work, but it’s mostly online, so it doesn’t do much to give me something to live for.)

It’s possible this oomphlessness is simply another stage of waning grief — it generally takes four to five years to fall in love with life again (assuming one was ever in love with life) and most of us 2010ers are still many months away from that magic number. If this is the case, the emptiness will disappear by itself once I’ve come to term with it, or it will metamorphose into another equally confusing phase.

But it’s also possible this is what my life is, in which case I’ll have to find a way to make the insignificant happenings significant again, because frankly, spending the rest of my days feeling like this is unthinkable.


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.

5 Responses to “Another Stage of Waning Grief”

  1. Linda Says:

    I so understand what you are talking about. My life is so different now than the 52 years I spent with Jim as a couple. Everything you say about preparing dinner to planning a vacation or talking about our children had to do with the two of us. Now it seems my life is empty(which it is)and I have realized that it is all up to me to make something out of it or sit and do nothing which I cannot do. I’m 74 but I’m still young at heart and active physically. The thought of letting life go by with no accomplishments is just not doable for me or I will wither away and I don’t like that thought. It’s hard to find a reason to do anything at all, like dust, cook, vacuum, cook somewhere but I know I have to do it. I probably have a lot of years left and I don’t like to think about it being a life of nothingness.

    Each day is forced to accomplish something whether it be a game of golf(which I love), lunch or dinner with someone. I have to have something to look forward to or I get frustrated. It would be very easy to not do anything just because there is no reason anymore to show someone talk about it. But then I probably am being selfish as there are a lot of others out there who could use my help too. I don’t have a passion to volunteer either but have signed up to do it at a hospital hoping I will meet others. It’s just hard to carry on alone and not have a burning desire to do something worthwhile. I am not at 2 years yet until Oct 31.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I also try to accomplish something every day, if only writing a blog post and taking a walk. Maybe it’s in the doing of these everyday things that we’ll find meaning in our lives until that burning desire finds us and ignites us. And if not, at least we’ll have accomplished something.

  2. Joy Collins Says:

    I too have reached that “what’s the point” stage of grief and I find it hard to move past this. It’s almost as if a part of my mind/heart thought this would be over. That somehow John would be back. Now that I have reached the three year mark, I know this loss is true and not going to change. And even though I know and feel that John is still with me in the only way he can be right now, it’s not enough and it doesn’t change the day to day constant feeling of loss. The future just yawns out in front of me and I see and feel nothing of interest. I have tried. I really think I have given it a good try but there is no spark. I go through the motions. I get things done. I have even done things that look future-oriented. I’m taking classes, I got a new puppy. I meet friends for meals. I visit family back East. I go to movies and I shop. But in the end there is no true feeling of inner deep happiness. That all ended when John passed. When John was here anything and everything was wonderful – even enjoying the simple act of watching the cats play. That feeling of “us” was all I needed. Now I am just me and it’s not enough.

    • Linda Says:

      You put my feelings so well! I’m just coming up 2 years and you are doing three and still no hope. What are we to do? I feel like what is the matter with me? There are others out there who seem to be functioning better than I am, why can’t I? Yes, I do all those things you mentioned and I must admit, I am better when I’m with people but the future looms ahead with no direction as hard as I try. I’m going on trips, in fact heading to Duluth, MN. with another widow lady friend to show her where I grew up. But I can’t handle the day to day living here at home. I always yearn to go somewhere and am not happy at home. My son says, “mom you have all that time, get involved in some hobby that you’d like.” Well, I don’t even have a big interest to pursue. I wish I could find a passion for myself and quit having these pity parties. If anyone figures it out I hope I hear about what to do. Sorry for being such a downer. Just got home from playing golf but it was too hot for 18 holes so now what am I going to do here? No desires. If Jim were here we would just vege out together and think nothing of it.

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        None of us have been sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves. We’ve all forged with great courage into the future, trying to build new lives for ourselves, but the emptiness looms and I don’t know what to do about it. We should be enough, but it’s hard to generate any sort of spark by ourselves.

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