Grief Update: Forty-One Months

Forty-one months ago, my life mate/soul mate died of inoperable kidney cancer. At times his death seems recent, as if he’s just beyond reach, at home maybe, waiting for me to finish with my present responsibilities. At the same time, his death seems very far away. Last night I looked at his photo and was perplexed to realize he no longer seems real to me. I have no concept of him as a person. It’s as if he were merely an idea I had once a long time ago or maybe a character I created for a book. And yet I know he lived, loved, laughed. I know he was real. I feel the loss in the depth of my being, and tears of sadness and yearning for him are always close to the surface, though the tears seldom fall any more.

starbMy life doesn’t seem real, either. I walk, write, make friends, lose friends, make plans and break them, try new activities, see new places, sample new foods, wish on the first star I see at night. (Okay, so it’s Venus — from here, it looks like a star.) Despite all that I’m doing to create a life for myself, I feel as if I’m just going through the motions. I don’t want to live alone, yet I don’t want to live with anyone, either. I don’t want him back to suffer more, yet I wish desperately to see him once again.

Even if I did get a chance to see him, I wouldn’t know what to say — grief has changed me in some fundamental way, and I don’t know if we’d have anything to talk about. Of course, I’d ask him what his life was like, if he were happy, if I seem as abstract to him as he now does to me. We might reminisce a bit, and I’d probably tell him of a few worldly developments, but to be honest, nothing that has happened in the past forty-one months is so important that I’d drag him back from the dead to talk about.

I’ve been looking forward to a time when grief no longer has me in thrall (they say it takes three to five years to find a renewed interest in life, though from talking to people who have gone through a similar grievous loss, I found out it’s more like four to five years). And yet, if I feel this way now — as if he isn’t real — then I’m not sure I want to find out what’s ahead. But I have no choice. In seven months, it will be four years since his death, and twelve months after that, it will be five years. And he will seem even more gone than ever.


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.

5 Responses to “Grief Update: Forty-One Months”

  1. Joy Collins Says:

    That’s my fear too – that this will feel like something I have made up. Luckily, I still feel John here with me. I don’t think there will ever be a time when I won’t grieve though. The grief may change. It will ebb and flow but the tears still come. And the yearning will never stop. Not until I am back with John again. I look forward to that.

  2. Carol Says:

    Once the last of our four children had left home, I frequently yearned for days as they had once been… happy family times together. Any memories of the ‘tuff love’ incidents faded in favour of nostalgia for the sweet times. As the years passed, I realized I only yearned for the pleasant things… that I wouldn’t really have wanted a repetition of every single day we’d had together. Every Christmas nostalgia spills out for what my children call Gramma’s old fashioned Christmas — a remnant of my childhood memories.

    It’s been over 16 years since our one daughter died, and while my memories of her are clear, the emotional responses are gone. I don’t try to over-analyze why, but accept that memories change over time. I hope you’ll always have the good memories and the not-so-good ones will fade.

    Off topic — and it may be a MYOB thing, so don’t hesitate to say so — I see the relationship with my husband as a life-long commitment so I understand that part. But in all these years you have always referred to yours as your “soul mate/life mate”, never as your husband, and I’ve been curious as to why.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      For so long, all I had were the not-so-good memories, and that was okay with me. I want to remember him as he was, not as some paragon I’ve created. Everyone once in a while now, the good memories creep in, but those are still painful because it’s hard to think of that radiant young man being dead.

      We never defined ourselves or our relationship in any way. We just were. Life mate/soul mate is sort of a compromise since I have to call him something.

  3. Uthayanan Says:

    Pat I admire for what you have written. It help me to fallow. I am not a strong personality like you and and still I cannot look her photos. As you said I need time as just now forty-one months still continue to walk and confused. And survive. Take care an have a nice walk.

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