I Am a Three-and-a-Half-Year Grief Survivor

Three and a half years ago today, my life mate/soul mate died of inoperable kidney cancer. It seems an impossibly long time ago, as if I knew him in another life. It also seems as if it’s only been a few months since I last saw him.

Yesripplesterday I watched his version of Fly Away Home (he edited out parts of movies he/we didn’t like, such as heavy drama and prolonged arguments, which makes what he did leave in very personal). When Jeff Daniels told Anna Paquin that she had to continue the flight by herself, that she had to leave him behind and follow her dream, it seemed as if were a message to me from my mate to just go on with my life, follow whatever dreams I can muster, and leave him behind. (In fact, he often told me I’d have to that very thing — just leave him behind. He was losing his sight, his hearing, his strength, and he didn’t want me to hang around if he became a lingering invalid.)

Well, now I do have to leave him behind. Or maybe he left me behind. (I still don’t have any firm belief about what actually happens when one dies.) Either way, I am becoming comfortable with being single in a coupled world. I don’t panic about growing old alone as I did at the beginning — it seems oddly inevitable, as if it had been written long ago.

During all these painful months and years, those who have lost their mates often told me that around the four-year mark, they found a renewed interest in life, and so it is with me. I find myself coming alive again. Feeling eager to do new things, meet new people. I’m becoming more active physically — taking exercise classes and walking with a group two or three nights a week in addition to my solitary desert walks.

It seems fitting, in a way, all this physical activity. During the first months after we met, I was often restless, going for long ambles around the city (Denver had an interconnecting system of parks and parkways, and I could walk for hours along greenbelts). And now I am again restless, needing more than a single walk to get me through the day.

I still don’t know where I am going with my life, don’t know what I want other than to be more than I am (though at the same time, I am more accepting of who I am and how I look than ever before). Lately I find myself wishing on the first star I see at night, but the only thing I can think of to wish for is to be spectacular. I’m leaving it up to the universe or fate or a future me to decide what “spectacular” means.

It seems strange that of all the grief updates I’ve posted during the past three and a half years, this one is more about me and less about him, and that too is how it should be since my life is now more about me and less about him. I still miss him, still feel his absence in my life the way I once felt his presence, but I no longer feel as if I am a remnant of a shattered couple. I am just me — a woman alone who one day might be spectacular.


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.

3 Responses to “I Am a Three-and-a-Half-Year Grief Survivor”

  1. Naraluna Says:

    Thank you for sharing this post.

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    Thank you Pat again your way of dealing with grief. I am sorry for you (even it is too late.) but I am in the same period. I started to read one by one for the fourth year. I respect the date and period and your feeling. I am not the same person but as you said grieving people feelings some extent similar.
    “ I still don’t know where I am going with my life” same for me.
    Now you are not the same person but I am sure your love and your feeling for Jeff always same.
    Even you are talking about you indirectly you are talking for him and with him. In my present situation I will do the same.
    Take care

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      When I wrote these grief blogs, I mostly wanted to explain about grief and to show how I felt since the whole grief process was so shocking to me. I had no idea how important these posts would be, sort of a paper trail left behind for people to follow if they so wish. We are told so often that everyone’s grief is different, and it is, to the extent that we are all different. What few people ever mention are the similarities. The pattern seems to hold true for most of us, which is good because it helps to know what other people were feeling and thinking at the same “grief age.”

      And yes, my feeling for Jeff is the same.

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