I just came back from dance class to an empty house. It felt strange not to have to worry about my father, not to have to deal with our complicated relationship. (Though at the end, it was simple. He wanted to die, and I was there, helping him let go.)
My father died in exactly the same way Jeff (my life/mate soul mate) did — terminal restlessness and agitation treated with morphine and haloperidol for a while, and then finally nothing when they fell into a coma and slowly and peacefully faded out of this world. In both cases, I sat with the empty body until the mortuary came for the remains, though in both cases I had company, a nurse with Jeff and a brother with my father.
But then came the major differences. With Jeff, I was totally shattered, dealing with unbearable angst and agony at his separation from my very being. I did not have that sort of deeply connected relationship with my father. Besides, he was considerably older than Jeff. Where Jeff’s life had been cut short at a fairly young age, my father had used himself up. He had nothing left. Most of all, when Jeff died, I was alone. Completely. Had to deal with everything by myself. Had little support. (Which is why I swallowed my intense independence and went to a grief support group, and one of the reasons I wrote about my grief.)
But this time, I could feel the incredible outpouring of love and caring from both my online and offline friends. Many comments were left on my blog and Facebook — not the typical stranger-to-stranger condolences you get on such sites, but heartfelt expressions of concern from people who have gotten to know me from my chronicling the traumas of my life.
I went walking with my walking group last night and cried on a friend’s shoulder and got hugs from everyone else. And then I experienced the same thing at dance class today, hugs and tears. After class, I went to lunch with friends, got calls this afternoon making this empty house seem not so bleak, and I will be going to dinner with another friend tonight.
I am truly blessed. Thank you for your kindness, your caring, your love. You mean more to me than you will ever know.
Me, Jeff, Mom and Dad on their fiftieth wedding anniversary. Strange to think I am the only one left alive.
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 28, 2014 at 4:53 pm
Virtual hugs being sent your way. I guess they’ll have to do.
October 28, 2014 at 5:05 pm
Virtual hugs are as appreciated as any! Thank you.
October 28, 2014 at 6:12 pm
Don’t even mention it, Pat. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. Good luck to you as you work on what’s next for you.
October 28, 2014 at 6:06 pm
October 28, 2014 at 8:10 pm
I hope you take this the right way. I think the difference this time is that you’ve learned to open up and let us in, to allow us to be there, to allow us to offer our shoulders. I remember being stunned when Jeff died because I hardly knew you had an “other” in your life, much less that he’d been so ill. I respect people’s need to be private, but I wish I’d known more then. You truly have changed and grown and opened up and we are the luckier for it.
October 28, 2014 at 8:37 pm
I couldn’t talk about my life and especially his illness back then. His illness didn’t belong to me. I am intensely loyal and my loyalties were with him. He also was afraid people would think less of me if I talked about his being sick, but I mostly took his ill health and our strange half life for granted. It was just the way things were. There wasn’t much to say. And after all, I was online only to try to promote myself as an author. I was new to the internet — had only just gotten a computer and the internet a month before the crime contest on gather. I was disheartened that many people used online forums to whine, and I didn’t want to be another whiner. After he died, well, none of that mattered. And I was so stunned by the way I felt that it just burst out of me. Now this has become a way of life. It amazes me that people don’t tell me to shut up and quit my bellyaching.
October 28, 2014 at 8:59 pm
I love the picture. I am glad that you have the support this time. Grief without support would be horrific I think. Sending you a hug.
October 29, 2014 at 2:29 am
You are a very kind person and you deserve that in return. You have been a loving and caring daughter. I am sure that your Father appreciated your taking care of him, even though he did not show it.
October 29, 2014 at 6:35 am
What a beautiful picture. 🙂 Still thinking of you. And definitely virtual hugs.
October 29, 2014 at 6:58 am
Lots of hugs, Pat. Despite your father’s attitude toward you while he was ill and your relationship with him in general, it has to be so strange now not to have that distraction. My relationship with my MIL was different from yours with your father. After John passed and I brought her back here to care for her, I had the advantage of an assisted living facility. And there was no conflict. I was heartbroken when she died. But I also knew it was her time. She was 89. An added benefit of having her here was she filled my days after John passed. She gave me a focus, a purpose and it was like losing John all over again when I no longer had that part of my day to answer to. I know you have your walks and your dancing. And that’s good. Just be aware that this is going to be another grief period. Not just of your father but of a part of your life. Now you enter yet another phase. It’s odd, isn’t it, how our journey sort of parallels? I want you to know I feel blessed too. Blessed to know you and to share this journey with you.
November 4, 2014 at 4:57 pm
Yes, odd about our parallel journeys. I hope you’ve found a new focus now that your MIL is gone. We’ve been through a lot during the past few years. So much loss! People keep telling me it’s time to look after myself — I just wish I knew what I wanted (besides dancing, that is). But oh, it’s so lonely! I keep thinking I can go home to Jeff as I did after my mother died, but he’s beyond me now. Wishing you many blessings. And yes, I’ve been blessed to have you as a companion on this journey.
November 4, 2014 at 7:23 pm
I’m still not happy about being here without John but I am working on finding something to make whatever time I will be spending here worthwhile. I am writing again which is something I wasn’t able to do until now – except for blogging. But I still need more than that so I am open to what the Universe will put in my path. I’m ready for something other than loss. Between losing John and then his Mom and then 4 furbabies, enough is enough. But yes, the loneliness. That doesn’t go away no matter how many projects. There is something special about sharing your life with your soul mate. Nothing can take the place of that.
November 5, 2014 at 7:32 pm
YOu’re right — nothing can take the place of sharing a life with your soul mate. I don’t think I will ever completely get over the sorrow that he’s gone. It’s too deeply ingrained. But like you, despite the lonely existence, I’m trying to make my time mean something. Wishing us both meaningful peace.
October 29, 2014 at 11:21 am
I know what you mean by intense independence. And when we lose our soul mate, oh my goodness, how do we cope alone or with others? I think this is often the case with soul mates. In my experience, most people make it worse. I admire how you were able to let people in.