I’m sitting here with tears running down my face, and I don’t really know why. Just too many recent losses, perhaps. Two losses — the death of my father two and a half weeks ago and before that the loss of a dear friend to what seem to be irreconcilable differences — aren’t many, it just seems like a lot because any loss renews my grief for my life mate/soul mate, who died four and a half years ago.
I tried to wait until the tears passed before writing tonight because I’ve wept way too often on this blog, and I just didn’t want to have to admit to more sorrow. But here I am . . .
I was fine all day until after dance class this afternoon when everyone went home to someone and I returned to a borrowed house. I don’t mind being alone — it’s rather peaceful not having to worry about other people’s ills and crotchets, not having to figure out what someone else wants or needs. But perhaps that’s my problem. After a lifetime of being needed — from a childhood spent taking care of younger brothers and sisters to a recent adulthood spent taking care of the sick and dying — all of a sudden, no one needs me.
It’s not that I want to be needed — I don’t. (It’s long past time for me to figure out what I need rather than what other people need.) It’s more that I’m not used to the emptiness not being needed has left behind, an emptiness I have yet to fill. Dancing helps, of course, but there are only so many classes I can take. I’m filling many of my weekend hours sorting through and packing my stuff for storage, but I can only do that for so long, too, because it’s sad dismantling what’s left of my shared life with my mate. Not only is each item I get rid of one more thing gone from that life, it’s a reminder that I won’t be going home to him. Not now, not ever. The odd thing is, I really had let him go several months ago with the realization that he is a person in and of himself and on his own journey that has nothing to do with me. But preparing for the coming upheaval in my life brings it all back.
Maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself tonight. Instead of sitting here whining or trying to figure out why the tears, I think I’ll go for a walk. If nothing else, it will be good for me.
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.
November 14, 2014 at 6:23 pm
Dear Pat, Sorry to hear that you are feeling sad. You usually seem happy in dance class. Tears aren’t bad. They sometimes help you to get your life together. Hope you had a nice walk.
November 14, 2014 at 8:21 pm
I’m always happy dancing! And I’m usually okay afterward. Tonight was just a hard night, but walking helped.
November 14, 2014 at 7:00 pm
My condolences for your loss, Pat. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help you.
November 14, 2014 at 8:22 pm
Yes, will let you know if there’s anything you can do. Thank you.
November 14, 2014 at 8:28 pm
As always, you’re welcome.
November 14, 2014 at 8:56 pm
Maybe it is the winter weather. I hate it that my tears just keep coming back. When I least expect them. And I’m always feeling down…
November 14, 2014 at 10:03 pm
You are still so new to grief. Of course you are feeling down. And of course the tears keep coming. But I’m sure winter makes it all the harder. Winter is a sad time – so much less light to energize us.
November 14, 2014 at 11:06 pm
Oh honey, I know this exact pain. In my life I’ve been the ‘adult’ since I was very small, when my baby sister was born, I was five. I’ve been a caretaker since that time in one way or another. I am only now finding a way to cope with the fact that no one ‘needs’ me any more. Kids grown, grandkids either grown or being taken care of by their parents, my parents gone, sibs all doing fine, hubby very self-sufficient. Even the cats don’t need me much and my dear Fred the Friendly Canine is gone so his need is gone as well. It’s hell figuring out life when no one else’s needs are calling the shots and informing the choices.
You have begun forming a life of your own, even if you don’t recognize it yet. Your dancing informs your choices. You have made friends in the town. Perhaps writing will come back around for you.
I’m trying to do these things, making baby steps and not missing that which I have lost. Like you I lost one of the two friends that I’ve had in my life for over 35 years. I don’t make deep friendships easily and to lose one… it was hard.
My heart to your heart… may we both find our way.
November 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm
Wanda, I should have known I could count on you to make me feel better about my tears. Although I don’t wish such sorrow on anyone, it’s good to know that our lives are following similar paths. Yes, my heart to your heart. We will both find our way!
November 15, 2014 at 3:08 am
oh Pat. What’s that last paragraph? Yes a walk is excellent. Everyday each one on us should experience nature in whatever availability it presents itself. It is a strengthening experience.
However, instead of ” Maybe I’m just feeling sorry for myself tonight. Instead of sitting here whining…” you know by now that grief needs to be lived not avoided or the future is bleak indeed.
” I just didn’t want to have to admit to more sorrow.” ARE YOU KIDDING??? Your mum, your soul mate your brother your friend your father and all up so many yesterdays. SORROW!!!
Remember I said take at least four weeks without thought towards future would be good? My dear friend your losses have been great. And whilst I think in the future we will find a liberated Pat right now cry my friend. Don’t rush away, don’t get conned into ‘how long i should be sad for’. Your losses have been great and one after a another.
Grieve as needed and write because so many share your experience. The time is coming for new experiences and new joys but it is not now. Now is the time to grieve…to honor the losses.
I love you my friend.
November 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm
Leesa, you always appear when I most need you. And last night, I did need you. Strange how I had forgotten the lessons of my early grief — that yes, it needs to be lived. I do think about the future, though I will try to do a better job of not thinking about it. (Mostly I’ve just been letting my mind wander, without worry or plan for what might come.) I guess somehow I thought that with my father gone, the past would miraculously disappear or rearrange itself and instead what I got was grief. Odd how grief continues to take me by surprise.
So yes, I will grieve. I will honor all my losses.
Thank you, my very dear friend.
November 15, 2014 at 4:33 am
Tears are cleansing. Go with it. You have had a rough road and all of a sudden, it is quiet. Too quiet. That is enough to scare anyone. I’m here if you need to chat.
November 15, 2014 at 5:29 pm
Thank you, Holly. Good to know you’re here. I hope your own road is going smoothly.
November 15, 2014 at 6:15 am
One of the “rules” of grief is never apologize for it. Every new major loss brings back all the other losses. When I lost John’s Mom 2 1/2 years after he passed, it brought all those feelings back. And losing each of our furbabies in the past 4 years has been horrible too. Loss is loss and it hurts. I’m glad you are tending to yourself with dance and walks but please do not berate yourself.
November 15, 2014 at 7:37 am
Joy: Spoken just right! And dance on–and walk on–Pat! Feet on our Big Mama Earth who breathes in our life and will eventually take it all back again.
November 15, 2014 at 5:30 pm
I like that idea, keeping my feet on Big Mama Earth. So important to be connected in such a fundamental way.
November 15, 2014 at 5:12 pm
I guess I was berating myself, wasn’t I? Thank you for the reminder. I don’t know why I think I shouldn’t mourn my father, or why I should finally let my grief for Jeff go. It will always be part of my life. All losses seem to echo that profound loss, the one that changed me forever.
November 15, 2014 at 4:39 pm
New losses trigger old losses – that’s just the truth of life. The blog is a great outlet and we’re here to share your grief through reading it. Hugs, my friend!
November 15, 2014 at 5:16 pm
Thank you, Kathy. I don’t know why I felt so embarrassed about sharing my tears last night — I guess I thought people would roll their eyes at what sounded like whining to me. I appreciate your putting things into perspective.
November 15, 2014 at 5:43 pm
[…] Too Many Losses […]
November 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm
Kathy says it well: “new losses trigger old losses”. You’ve had to deal with a lot of loss and need, and this sudden quietness is bound to be unsettling. You weren’t “whining”, just sharing your misery with your online friends, and that’s always a good thing to do. Sharing lightens a load, and friends like to be able to do that for each other.
Pat, have you considered getting a pet… one that’s not too demanding but is affectionate; maybe a kitten? (Did I just suggest that? I’m a staunch *dog* person! But I know a new pup or even an adult rescue dog can require a lot of attention, and can’t be left alone when you need to be away for an afternoon or overnight like a cat can.) Just a thought. There hasn’t been a time in the past 50 years when we haven’t had at least one and usually two or three dogs, and now that our Lab is suddenly gone, we’re finding the house agonizingly empty. Of course, we aren’t ready to replace him, but are investigating litters that may be available in the spring. A pet adds so much warmth to home life.
November 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm
Pat, I know it’s quiet there, but you’re never truly alone, not with so many folks stopping by (at least virtually) to check in on you. Don’t expect too much of youself too quickly. Don’t “should” on yourself (I should be doing this/feeling that etc.). And like Carol, I was about to suggest a kitten (in spite of being a dog person!) Something warm and alive, who needs you. Sending hugs.
November 15, 2014 at 10:07 pm
There’s nothing wrong with letting yourself cry and feel the loss of not being needed to always look after someone else. It’s just part of letting go of that. After you let go you can discover the other ways that you are needed, ones that are more for you than for others.
The empty life perhaps hurts more just because it is a big step into the future ahead of you. Keep strong and don’t think a little self pity is wrong. It will get better.
November 19, 2014 at 7:47 am
Kitten! Good idea.
I helped my old neighbor get one. It gave her a lot of companionship and comfort. You can leave them alone for periods of time with food and water
My brother had a cat that lived in his shop with him. It kept him from being lonely.
November 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm
And, this too I am just now finding out about? Oh, me! My sincere condolences, Pat.
I do have a very good reason for NOT being on here however, I’ve been doing some of what you (in other posts have mentioned…) that of ‘sorting through/narrowing down’, for want of a better choice of words, things which I want to keep (that will go to our only Grandchild),since he was just 3 1/2 years old when his beloved “Papaw” went Home, and had just turned 5 when his “Uncle Tony” joined him.)
My darling husband, literally the wind beneath my wings, was one in a million and very loved by all that knew him. He was also very accomplished in all that he did, and yet so very soft spoken, kind hearted, loving and very humble. He was my earthly best friend for thirty-four years and counting.
I want to create a ‘Memory Album’ for my grandson. One that will reflect just “who and what kind of man” his beloved Papaw was. (Hoping perhaps it will jar a few memories tucked back in that little mind of his at the time of loss.) He does remember his Uncle Tony which is good… and asked me, not long after his demise, “Is Uncle Tony with Papaw now?” I told him, “Yes, and that while we would miss them very much, they were both well and very happy.” (Spoken with tears nearly choking my throat closed.)
The last decade of my life has been much like yours.
The Twin Towers weren’t the only things that fell in 2001; life as I’d known it for so very long, literally started to crumble before my eyes. My sweetheart (for life) was diagnosed with and receiving his first chemo treatment on his birthday that year. (I’d already had surgery a few months prior and almost didn’t make it. I was fine, he was a wreck and gave me orders as in, “Don’t you dare die and leave me alone.” This said with tears streaming down his face, and to which I replied, “Don’t worry honey, I’m not going anywhere without you.)
He only lived for a very short ten months, and was in hospice care here in our home. We were together, just him and me (like always) holding hands, my left hand in his left and our plain gold bands, ones that we had exchanged at the renewal of our 25th Wedding Vows in our church, slightly ‘clinked’ as I took his hand in mine. He let out a gentle, soft last breath a mere 20 minutes later.
Eighteen months later and almost to the day, my youngest son was shot through the head for reason’s I still don’t know! All closely followed by the demise of my Mother, youngest sister (only 49! and both to cancer) Then there were the tragic
deaths of two nephews (one on each side of our extended family and both only 40,
along with that of a much anticipated great-nephew who only lived for a mere thirty minutes before succumbing to what we still do not know. Then the loss of the last of my hubby’s side of the family (of our generation anyway) his sister, two murder trials, countess hearings, a friend of over fifty years (we attended school together), and last but certainly not least, my two “best four footed friends”, (one just five months after hubby) the other devoted, little creature had to ‘leave’ me just a little over 4 years ago now. (While before we had for the most part several gorgeous, loving Dobie girls, the last two were ‘rescues’.)
All euthanized at home, cremated, and interred in a ‘Memorial Garden’ we made in our (very large!) back yard.
My Dad? He passed away during (and as a result of) surgery at the ripe old age of 66, that many years ago as I write this.
(All that ‘passed on’ not listed necessarily in order except for my sweetheart and my son.) I was beginning to feel like I needed a revolving door on funeral homes!
And life does go on… and it is good. And maybe I’ll get back to writing again…
Hugs & prayers,
November 24, 2014 at 3:25 pm
Oh, Ree’ — you made me cry. I knew some of your story, but not all of it. So many losses! It takes true courage to find a renewed interest in life despite all you have lost. Your idea of a memory album is wonderful. Such a fine man as your husband should be honored. It’s hard, I know. You kept your end of the bargain and didn’t die, though at such a tremendous cost. I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of losing your son in such an incomprehensible way. Life is . . . well, who knows what it is. I certainly don’t.
I’m honored that you’ve chosen to both support me in my grief and share yours with me.
Hugs and prayers (and a few tears).
November 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm
The honor is/was mine to walk ‘beside’ you in your journey. I really didn’t mean to make you cry though!
What has been the hardest thing for me… the lack of understanding. People would say to me, “Don’t live in the past”, “It’s time to move on”, and, “You just have to look toward the future,” and on and on and on…
Yes, admittedly, it has taken a long time and Lord knows I do/did my best not to get irritated when confronted with silly (to me) statements like that.
How can one possibly understand unless they have ‘been there, done that’? And that is something I would never in a million years wish on anyone!
The one thing that haunted me for so very long (and how I thank my God I am over now) was — I had to turn the ventilator off on my son. And that is a whole other story…
Hugs back, (and please don’t cry)
November 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm
It’s that lack of understanding that gave me the courage to speak out and tell the truth about grief, and oh, I got so much more than I gave. Wishing us both the peace we need.
December 9, 2014 at 5:46 pm
[…] have suffered so many losses in the past few years that I feel lost myself, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I don’t […]