Someone left a comment a couple of days ago saying she is tired of hearing about my loss and so is cancelling her subscription to this blog. To be honest, I don’t really blame her. I never expected the death of one man (my life mate/soul mate) to have such an impact on my life that I could feel the ripples of his absence three and a half years later. I certainly never expected to still be mentioning my loss after all this time (it seems a bit pathetic), but I can’t ignore the single most significant event of the past few years of my life. Everything I am, everything I will be stems from that loss.
Death is such an inhuman and inexplicable event that our brains scurry around trying to solve the enigma of a presence that has become an absence. Some people are lucky enough to believe in a benevolent God and a beatific afterlife. Others of us strive to find meaning, and if we don’t succeed in finding it, we have to create meaning.
For now, this blog is my meaning. Or rather, the means to my meaning. I was so stunned at all I felt after his death, so shocked at how little I understood such profound grief despite having lost a brother and my mother that I used this blog as a way of helping other bereft find their way through the labyrinth of pain. I wanted to let them know they are not crazy if they continue to feel grief long after their family and friends (and blog readers) have become tired of their sorrow. The truth is, we too get tired of our loss, but we have no choice but to continue our struggle to live.
And it is a struggle. I realized long ago that the only way I could make sense of his death is to do things that we wouldn’t have done together, or to do things that I wouldn’t/couldn’t have done while he lived. Even though I am no longer actively grieving and in fact am quite happy at times (I seldom cry any more, and if I do, it’s only for a moment or two), I still honor my loss with all that I am doing. I continue to blog about grief, take night walks with the local Sierra Club, travel a bit, write, amble in the snake-infested desert, and do things I am not necessarily comfortable doing.
Although it might seem as if I am still bemoaning my loss by continuing to mention his death, the truth is, I am not embracing loss. I am embracing life — my life. I’m still not convinced life is a gift — there is way too much pain in the world — but my loss is the means of my future gain. I will not waste the freedom his death brought to me. I will not waste the courage he bequeathed me. I will not waste what is left of my life, even though I have to continue alone.
It seems to me that my struggle to create a meaningful life is worth writing about. So, if you are sick of hearing about my loss, feel free to unfollow me, but I am going to continue to blog about my life, and my life includes his death.
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.
October 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm
Everyone deals with grief differently and there are no rigth or wrong way to go about grieving. Some of us feel closer to our loved ones more than others and indeed everyone has the right to grieve the way they want . I still miss and grieve the death of my dearest grandmother who although did not give birth to me…was in fact the only mother I ever knew since I was abandoned by both of my parents. If anyone will ever dare tell me that they are sick of my constant grieving….they are not welcome in my life and their opinion will not matter whatsoever .No one can walk in other’s shoes.. and even if they did..the fitting will never be the same. .much blessings and love to you♥
October 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm
And blessings to you. Thank you for stopping by and telling me about your grandmother. That you still grieve for her tells me she must have been a wonderful woman.
October 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm
She was indeed …my first true genuine love and she will forever be in my heart…
October 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm
Btw…my grandmother been deceased for over 40 years. .
October 3, 2013 at 4:20 pm
I find your blog comforting, not only to know that it is possible to love someone so much, but also to have someone who shares the same emotions as Im going through… I found your blog not long after my Grandma died and it has bought me a kind of comfort that these feelings are normal and that grief lasts as long as is necessary and that someone out there is going through the same thing… I really feel that the person who left this comment really should have just said nothing…grief will be and remain as long as is needed, and probably will remain so long as you have memories and love for the person you have lost. To me grief is similar to a trauma, my head can rationalize that death is something that will happen to all of us, how, where and wen, we will never know, but the heart is not rational, nor does it understand, and the feelings can’t just be extinguished. I still find myself totally winded by my Grandmas death, often it is unexpected and when it is least expected, it is breath taking. I’m sorry you had such an insensitive comment and hope that you can find some comfort in mine xx
October 3, 2013 at 7:46 pm
People tell me that even ten or twenty years later they have episodes of grief as fresh as when their loved one died. Grief doesn’t go away, though it does change as well as changes us.
And yes, I found much comfort in your comment. Thank you for being so kind as to tell me your story. I never knew a grandmother’s death could be so devastating — I only met each of my grandmothers once when I was very young.
October 3, 2013 at 4:28 pm
Pat, I saw that remark and I was tempted to respond to it but refrained because I knew what I would say would not be pretty and it was best I kept my mouth shut. I know grief bothers a lot of people. They don’t know how to deal with it and so they want us to shut up. Grief is messy and most people want a mess-free life – until it happens to them and then stand back. Luckily, she is free to move on and we are free to try to deal with our loss the best way we can. And for us that means talking about our grief, our loss, our loved ones. My cousin once told me that she is learning a lot by watching me go through this. I considered that a compliment of the highest order.
October 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm
Such a loss ripples through every part of our lives for many years (maybe forever) and to ignore it is not only impossible but unhealthy. Maybe if we simply bemoaned our fate without trying to deal with it, it might be tiresome, but we show that one does continue on after such a loss, that it changes us and gives us a feel of the eternal. Your cousin is right — how we deal with the situation can teach not only us but others.
October 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm
I’m not really understanding why this person felt the need to comment. If you don’t like the content, simply unfollow–no comments necessary. I didn’t see the comment, but it seems insensitive.
Anyways, I enjoy reading your posts–I feel like I can relate to you in a way. I’m extremely empathetic and I’m in love with my fiance–we are high school sweethearts who’ve been together for 8 years. I feel like the love you have for your soulmate is the same as our love and it kills me that you have to live without him. Reading your posts helps me to stay focused on our love through the tough times and reminds me of just how fragile life is. We have to appreciate every moment.
I am so sorry for your loss and I wish that you didn’t have to live without him. 😦
October 3, 2013 at 7:36 pm
I’m glad you can relate to my posts. A soul mate is a precious gift, and it’s good you found yours. I hope the two of you live a long and happy life.
October 3, 2013 at 7:54 pm
Thank you. You remind me just how precious of a gift it is to have found your soulmate 🙂 Some people never do, so at least you did enjoy that strong of a love. ❤
October 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm
Bertram…as a former paramedic, now Registered Nurse, and human being I have learned over the years that ALL people grieve differently. All people cope with grief differently as well…and some people have better coping skills than others. That said, it is fortunate, for you, that you have this positive writing outlet (as opposed to a negative one like crawling into the bottom of a bottle.) If people do not like to read about grief, then they can just skip your post for that day, much like scanning through Facebook posts. Skip the ones that do not appeal to you that day.
Admittedly, sometimes I may skip your posts because I am having a stellar day and just don’t want any clouds. For the same reasons, on most days, I do not even turn on the television so as not to hear the bad news of the day. Call me a Cockeyed Optimist if you will, I’ve been called worse.
My unsolicited advice, take it or leave it, it’s free! Bertram, grieve as long as ‘you’ need to grieve…and then when you’re done…move on.
Peace to you. I hope I do not offend when I offer you this verse from the bible, St. John 14:1-4.
My prayer is your loved ones will be waiting on the other side at the banks of the river for you, just like mine are for me. ❤
October 4, 2013 at 11:34 am
Thank you for kind and supportive words. You didn’t offend me with the offer of a bible verse. I’m always grateful for any bit of wisdom people are willing to share with me. And I certainly agree with staying away from sad/bad news and posts when one is tired of clouds. Some days I can’t even read my own posts, though often the saddest ones are the ones I thought were most uplifting.
October 4, 2013 at 12:25 am
I like your blog and is wonderful to see how much you loved your soul mate. Stories like yours they don’t happen very often, not many people can say that they really found their soul mate and there is no point in hiding your emotions, your feelings. I think people who can’t express their emotions somehow missed the point of life. We are humans not stones, I am glad you aren’t and I don’t want to be a stone either.
October 4, 2013 at 11:28 am
I like what you said, that we are humans, not stones. One of the points I’ve tried to make with my grief posts is that we can feel sad emotions as well as happy ones, and still lead a full non-stone life. Despite the pain of his death, I am grateful to him for the gift of grief. It has taught me much, especially about being real.
October 4, 2013 at 3:34 pm
hey Pat. Well if you know me at all you should already know that I think the person who left such a comment is at the very least lacking sensitivity. But I think what she said is interesting and indicative of the way our communities deal with death. If you don’t mind I will disagree with one thing you wrote and that is “Death is such an inhuman and inexplicable event…” Inexplicable it certainly is but inhuman? No. It is very human, in fact it is integral to our existence and the existence of all organic life and the why/what of it all has been the ultimate searching story of humanity from day dot. But we all react, to different degrees like your commenter. We ignore it, deny it, grab on to incomplete theologies to find comfort for it, etc etc and as a result more often than not run away from those experiencing its impact.
It is hard to hear of the impact of death on a person because we don’t get it and we know we are going to have to deal with it and it terrifies us. But you have not done these things. You face it write it and ponder it all and on the way reach so many who also will experience folks who are sick of hearing about it. This is more essential than you’ll ever know.
Me…I want to understand the why and what of it all and will keep trying to achieve this whether I succeed or not.
October 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm
I never mind if you disagree — you always have something important to add to the conversation whether you agree or not. Interesting — I debated about deleting “inhuman” but left it in, because although death is an integral part of our existence, it doesn’t seem so in the normal course of a day. I am still fighting the concept of death, and probably always will. When death seems normal, life as I know it doesn’t. When life as I know it seems normal, then death seems an alien interloper.
Grief, however, seems a very real part of life. By grief, I don’t always mean sadness, just an awareness of another unknown dimension to our knowledge. His death was sad to me, but if he still exists somewhere, perhaps it isn’t sad to him. More than his absence, it’s the glimpse into the eternal unknown that continues to baffle me. At the beginning, I could almost reach out and touch the abyss, but the rend in my soul is healing, so I don’t feel it quite so much any more.
It is all so strange to me — the experience of grief and the way it ripples through my life and my thoughts — I have a hunch that I will still be mentioning (and pondering) “my loss” long after everyone else (including me) is sick of hearing about.
October 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm
Pat…I am so sorry that someone felt the need to be so insensitive. I found your blog a while back and all the ‘grief’ posts have done nothing but bring me some comfort. I am in the throes of grieving my spouse and he hasn’t even died. We are dealing with end-stage Parkinson’s and it is devastating to watch him die a little each day. Keep writing about your grief. It helps a lot of people. And I thank you for helping me.
October 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm
I’m not sure what provokes people to be unnecessarily rude. It reflects more on them and the kind of person they are than on the object of their complaint. However, I suspect in this case it might have been a “troll” and not a regular reader. My aunt has had someone visiting her blog and repeatedly demanding to be unsubscribed… and the name isn’t among her subscribers at all. I finally put a filter in place to eliminate the comments.
In any case, nobody is force-feeding them and they aren’t obliged to read anything they don’t want to. It’s obvious from your genuine readers that your honest sharing here is both understood and helpful. You are a blessing to many!
October 5, 2013 at 6:58 am
That rude person had an unintended effect – she brought us all together once again to comfort each other. My Love’s favorite saying was “Everything is happening the way it’s supposed to.” When we first met I would never have suspected that he would become [or was he always?] such a the deeply spiritual person. He loved, he forgave, he was grateful, he showed me how to live.
October 5, 2013 at 7:05 pm
That’s true, she did bring us all together again. It’s been nice getting in contact with everyone again.
I’m trying to believe that everything is happening the way it’s supposed to, but I’m still not that accepting.
October 5, 2013 at 11:01 am
how insensitive some people can be. just like saying, oh that dinner was so bad, just forget about it. It has been a little over a year and a half for me. yes you do continue on with life, but how could I obliterate my soul mate? He is a part of me. How blessed I am to have had those years. Keep up your blog, it is so comforting.
October 5, 2013 at 7:09 pm
Thank you for the reminder that however hard these past years alone have been, I was blessed to have had him all those years.
October 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm
I find I am missing Dale more now that I am moving on with life and considering dating again than I did when I was somewhat paralyzed. The more we live, the more we notice the loss of a partner with whom we once shared that living. Fuck ’em if they don’t understand it. I pray for their sakes that those who begrudge your open grieving never have to experience it themselves.
October 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm
I’m finding that is true. Now that the pain is mostly gone and I feel more “normal” it seems as if he could still be part of my life, though in a different room, perhaps, and so I miss him more. I can see that in many ways they will always be part of our lives, adding an extra dimension to whatever we do.
October 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm
No question about it. They will always be there. 🙂
October 5, 2013 at 8:47 pm
Pat, I lost my father suddenly when I was 15–the year a girl’s journey really begins and she needs her father the most. There were things left unsaid, and, almost 30 years later, I still have regrets.
Of course I’m doing better now, but there are still occurrences (my wedding, birth of my first child) when the emotional scab is ripped off and my heart is cut deeper, bleeding even more.
People have different ways of grieving, the whole process takes time, and I believe that some people who don’t experience the loss of such a deep love can’t really understand what you’re going through.
I do pray that you find your peace and healing.
October 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm
Those firsts seems to always bring back grief as fresh as at the beginning. And there are always new firsts — such as the first grandchild.
Wishing you continued peace and healing, too.
October 6, 2013 at 7:50 am
I wouldn’t worry about what others think about your grieving –carry on if thats what helps. I still miss my father in-law and he’s been gone 9years and my mom for 7 years. It’s not active but still makes me tear up. I miss dads bear hugs and moms sarcastic sense of humor. You grieve and ignore the negativity!
October 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm
I’m learning that although we go on with life, we will always miss those who are gone. Thank you for your kind words.
October 6, 2013 at 9:17 am
Like so many have already said, why someone feels the need to explain why they are ‘unfollowing’ your blog post isn’t necessary- some people feel they just have to have the last word.
When my Daddy died in 1991, I was in total denial- as weak as he was from his prostate cancer, I refused to believe (or accept) that the end was near. That’s my biggest regret- that I wasted valuable time usurping anything more than he had already given me. Selfish thought, that even after he died, I was thinking about me, but after he was gone I kept thinking but he never got to tell me more about his WWII experience, more of his college years, growing up years, aspirations to become a writer. I was so blessed to have known him- but not until after my mother died in 2005, did I realize how much I would miss them both. After my father died, my mother became ‘the glue’ that held our small family together. I never realized how strong she was until after she was gone. She had 14 years of widowed life. She carried on, joined new non profit groups, (and when my Mama joined a group, she became its leader most of the time), she remained close with church friends, made new ones, etc. Even though her smile seemed constant, there was a sparkle in her eyes that was missing. She was a beautiful lady, and her caring for others was genuine- and THAT sparkle was always there, but not until after she died did I realize how much my Daddy was a part of her life- a puzzle piece never to be found again. I married into a somewhat large and close family, but after both my parents passed away- I felt like an orphan- the loss was unexplainable.
Pat, you need to continue to write what is closest to your heart. Never mind the naysayers. Even if you don’t print, blog or publish- keep writing. I don’t think we ever ‘heal’ after the loss of a LOVED one- but that’s OK. that scar tissue is to remind us of a life well loved.
I say this to a lot of people- but I believe it to be true, so I’ll keep repeating:
‘After someone dies- every time you are thinking of them, they are thinking of you at the same time.’
I don’t believe death is the end, although the living that are left behind sometimes think so. Whatever one believes should be their way of coping with this life and what happens next.
Today- you are ‘PROVIDENTIAL’
I hope with every moment spent in grief, there are 10X more spent in happiness- look for that twinkle in your eye-everyday holds something good – for everybody.
October 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm
What a lovely tribute to your parents, and to you, too. It’s wonderful that you understood at least in part what your mother went through. Too often, sons and daughters hate so much to see their mother’s sadness that they urge her to “move on” without seeing the truth of her. And you did. It’s true — we do lose that one special sparkle, but other blessings come into our lives to bring other sparkles. Thank you for your wonderful and touching comment.
October 6, 2013 at 10:44 am
Telling the stories is one of the major vehicles for healing and we all need to tell them again and again and again until we don’t have to tell them anymore.
October 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm
October 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm
So true! I find that the story I tell changes as my grief changes, but still the story is important to me because he is important to me.
October 6, 2013 at 2:13 pm
[…] that sparked this post make me so angry. Why is grief kept so secret and scheduled in our […]