A childhood ditty declares, “Wednesday’s child is full of woe.” I sometimes wonder if there is any truth in the saying — I was born under Wednesday’s curse and I do seem to be more woe oriented than most people I know.
Everything always seems so easy for others. When I mention my tales of woe, such as grief for my deceased life mate/soul mate, people often dismiss my pain and offer their own religious beliefs as consolation. But those are their beliefs. Not mine. And even if they were my beliefs, they wouldn’t affect my grief. Grief is not intellectual. It is visceral, as much of a physical trauma as it is emotional, and as such is not always ameliorated by religious beliefs.
(I make it seem as if grief is a constant in my life, but it isn’t, not really. I can go weeks without thinking of him or shedding a single tear. This just just doesn’t happen to be one of those weeks.)
I suppose it does seem unimportant, this death that occurred five years ago. And yet, to me, it is all-important. Because of his death, I am where I am today, both spiritually and geographically. Because of his death and all the other deaths that have affected me in recent years, I have to rebuild my life from the ground up. This seems an immense task to me, and yet people shrug it off as if it is an everyday occurrence.
Is life that easy for others? Can they as easily dismiss their own woes as they do mine? After a trauma, can they really go on as if nothing has happened? Do the realities of life and death affect them so lightly? Or is it that they are better at hiding their feelings than I am?
I suppose it’s possible that I lack the resilience necessary to lead an easy life, but it seems to me I am resilient enough. In the past five years, I have closed up a house after the death of its inhabitants not once but twice, getting rid of the earthly possessions of those who no longer have a use for them. I have twice been dislocated and unhoused because of death. I have made friends and lost them, and made new friends. I’ve had my heart broken and my feelings hurt, and endured abuse from my dysfunctional brother. I’ve walked thousands of miles, written hundreds of blogs, laughed and joked, smiled and listened. I’ve learned to dance — not well, perhaps, but well enough to perform on stage with my classmates. And I am still chugging along, dreaming a new future into existence.
For the most part I am happy, grateful, hopeful even. And yet . . . and yet . . .
When he died, it felt like an amputation, and whatever was amputated is still gone. I have become so used to the feeling that I don’t always notice the amputation, but every once in a while grief steals over me like an eclipse, shadowing my life with pain and sorrow. For just a moment I wonder what is wrong, and then it comes to me.
He is dead.
That’s the fact of my life I cannot get around. Where he is, if he is, whether he is subsumed into the whole or maintains individual consciousness, I still have to deal with his goneness, still have to make my own way in the world. Still have to learn to live fully.
And oh, yeah. I have to forget that whole “Wednesday’s Child” thing. I don’t need any more woes.
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.
July 5, 2015 at 5:59 pm
I understand your feelings about being a strong person since my mother passed from Alzehmiers after I cared for her during her 7 years of illness, when she passed I cleaned out her home and life. I just went on with life during the grief while caring for Gary who then passed nine months later. My mother-in-law passed 3 months after Gary—-so much sadness in such a short time. I have adjusted to each one but Gary is the hardest loss I ever faced. It is hard to explain to people because they want you to move on which you do for the world but in reality, for some the loss is enormously overwheming to deal with the reality that your partner in life is GONE FOREVER!!! But you have come through five years and you are strong because that in it self is an accomplishment!!! Hang IN.
July 5, 2015 at 6:09 pm
It’s amazing to me that any of us survive such horrendous traumas, especially when they come one right after the other. Yes, it is hard to explain. You do move on, and yet you don’t. I think what happens is you become sort of like an amoeba, surrounding the pain, absorbing it, and taking it in, so you can still feel the effects of grief while you are moving in a different direction. Only those who experienced it have any sort of clue, because it isn’t part of what we consider a “normal” life.
Thank you for your kind words. Wishing you peace on your own journey through life and grief.
July 5, 2015 at 7:07 pm
I am reminded of Wednesday Addams. A child with a Marie Antoinette doll that comes with guillotine and shovel. One of my favorite characters on the old Addams Family show. She like things to be nice and gloomy. Being happy, grateful and hopeful seems to me to be the ticket.
July 6, 2015 at 2:46 am
“When I mention my tales of woe, such as grief for my deceased life mate/soul mate, people often dismiss my pain and offer their own religious beliefs as consolation”
Oh my dear, dear Pat. It is not so much to “offer my personal beliefs as a consolation”, but rather to share with you a hope that there IS something better that awaits us. (Us, as believers in our Savior and Lord Jesus.)
Nothing, but nothing, can ever replace the love that you shared with your mate! One of the reasons I don’t write and share more with you, you get upset, angry or simply misconstrue what I’m trying (however ineptly) to share.
“Is life that easy for others? Can they as easily dismiss their own woes as they do mine? After a trauma, can they really go on as if nothing has happened? Do the realities of life and death affect them so lightly? Or is it that they are better at hiding their feelings than I am?”
In. One. Short. Word. NO! A thousand times no!!!
At least as far as I’m concerned. There is nothing easy about going on with life after so many losses…
In one very short decade I ‘lost’ the following:
My best friend, lover, companion and mate,
my precious son (so brutally murdered in the prime of life), my Mother, (my Dad passed in a botched surgery when only 66 years of age and some years ago now), my ‘baby’ sister (19 years my junior!), two (2) very young nephews, a much anticipated and long awaited great nephew (who only lived for about 1/2 hour), the last remaining member of my husband’s family and lastly, a very close friend of well over a century. (This is not to mention other people I have known well or been close to for any length of time.)
And yes, I too have been maligned by a much younger, selfish and mean-spirited brother, who in retrospect, most likely suffers mental anguish from the very dysfunctional home we were raised in.
And it never got easier. And there are times I am so darn angry I feel like screaming. And I cry. Not all of the time but far more often than I care to admit.
I often feel as if not another soul knows the pain and heartache I have. But they do. And they go on. How? That I’ve yet to discover… and remains for me a part of ‘my journey’.
I just hold on to my ‘religious beliefs/convictions’ with a knowing deep in my heart… it will get better. If not for that, I would beg to question why even go on at all?
And again like you, I have to build my life back up and it is so darn hard. I can’t remember what it was like before Bob. My dear, dear Bob. The only ‘tangible’ being who ever excepted me for just me — faults and all. And I loved him with every fiber of my being… so close to him that at times I wondered where I began and he left off.
The dates, or proximity of time, which they left were almost unbearable, a mere 18 months apart between my husband and son, my Mother, a short (and out of the blue) 6 months after the second of two murder trials I had to sit through. (Yes, I HAD to sit through them. It was the very last thing I felt I could do for my son, make sure that justice prevailed. And quite frankly, I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t…)
And maybe, just maybe, I should have sold our home and moved on. But to what? An apartment that would have cost more? (Unlike you I NEED/NEEDED a place to call home. It was/is security to me. Then we’re all different in that respect. I ‘need/needed’ that added security of knowing I would have a definite place to lay my head at night. There have been times (long ago and far away) when I didn’t. I didn’t want to go there again. Not now, not at this age. Or any age come to think of it. That just isn’t me. Good or bad, better or worse.
And I get so weary of explaining how/what I feel that most of the time I. just. don’t. bother.
And now I have just rambled and most likely there will be those that question my sanity. That’s okay too. I am just going to post this and try to get some much needed sleep. And I pray that you understand when I say, “I understand.”
Be blessed dear one, be blessed…
July 6, 2015 at 8:32 am
I have never gotten angry with you or any commenter. Not even upset. I appreciate all comments. I’m sorry I ever gave you that impression. I might not believe what you do, but I understand how important your beliefs are to you.
July 9, 2015 at 10:10 pm
Guess I just ‘misconstrued’ your comments then…
July 6, 2015 at 2:55 am
Ooops! I knew my close friend for over (1/2) half a century, not a century! Should have proofed before posting I guess. Oh well…(blush)
July 6, 2015 at 6:58 pm
“For the most part I am happy, grateful, hopeful even. And yet . . . and yet . . .” The thing is Pat…if life matters, if our love for one another matters then sadness, grief, doubt are equally part of the mix of how we are going to feel. And no, in my experience others are not doing it any easier than you…they are just doing it differently, and some do not acknowledge their pain at all and trust me they are the ones who suffer the most. You don’t lack resilience you goose! Quite the opposite. You are living your life courageously, acknowledging the pain as well as the pleasures. That is life!
July 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm
I’d read a study three or four years ago that said people who didn’t “get over” their grief lacked resiliency. Weird, huh?
I have always appreciated your contention that sadness, grief, and doubt are part of the mix. Most people seem to think those feelings need to be eradicated. I prefer to believe the way you do — that these feelings are all part of living. Thank you, as always, for helping me put my feelings into perspective.
April 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm
[…] Writing helps me process my various traumas, and if anyone gets tired of my tales of woe (I am a Wednesday’s child after all) he or she can move on to sunnier blogs. I do know that in the scope of world events, […]