Grief, the Internet, and Other Unpolitic Matters

It seems funny to me that I managed to write a blog post every day for more than four years, and now I can’t come up with four posts a month. There is so much I don’t want to talk about. Or rather, that I do want to talk about but don’t think it . . . politic. (Weird, isn’t it, that talking of politics is no longer politic? Not that I particularly want to talk about what’s going on in the world, but it’s hard not to want to have my say.)

During all my years online, I’ve heard people say that the internet is a harsh place because people hide behind their online personas and spew filth, but until this past week, I’ve never encountered such hatred and anger. Online, people are screeching about racists and xenophobes and misogynists and bigots, but offline, people are respectfully and calmly talking about why they voted the way they did, and not one of them voted for racism. Except that in today’s world, if you disagree with standard group-think for any reason, the first word that comes up in retaliation is “racist.” Or “anti-feminist.” As if the only reason to vote for a Broken heartwoman is that she’s a woman like you. (Apparently, women are not allowed to look beyond gender to the issues dear to their heart.)

None of this has anything to do with me, really, but I see the hurt caused by such divisiveness. I have never lost so much respect for so many people so fast as I did this past week. The election results didn’t upset me. I know that historically any Republican president brings out the activists, which mitigates the power. But the hatred and lies and name calling is something I can do without. Not only am I a person who wants everyone to get along, but such contention exacerbates my ongoing sadness.

When I was writing my dance class book, I was in a good place mentally. But now . . . not so much. I’m not experiencing grief; really, it’s more that all the vehement rhetoric makes me miss the one person I knew who could look rationally and historically beyond the hype on both sides to the truth, who understood my feelings, who knew my thoughts and agreed with them because they were his thoughts too. I realize having such a person in my life was a blessing, but sometimes it’s hard to still count that particular blessing because it ended so very long ago. In a few months, it will be seven years since he’s been gone. Long enough to forget occasionally that I had him in my life, but not long enough to completely fill the hole he left behind.

Working on my current book, a novel I started six years ago about a woman who lost her husband to death, is resurrecting the sadness, which shows me grief is still there, buried under my renewed equanimity. (I never used to be an emotional person, but his death slammed me way off course.) I periodically think about scrapping the book. I don’t know if anyone will ever read it. A grieving woman is not the sort of heroine that people seem to admire. A person experiencing grief is at the mercy of her hormones and brain chemistry, her emotional and spiritual tornadoes, the sheer debilitating exhaustion of the process. No amount of determination, no power-woman tactics can get you through it. Only going through it can get you through it.

Such a character and her manifest weakness, no matter how temporary, is not exactly something most people find inspiring. And yet, that’s the whole point of the book. To show the truth of grief. I got so sick of books where the woman lost her husband, cried herself to sleep, and woke up the next morning thinking, “Okay, that’s done with.” Or as one author wrote, “She went through all five stages of grief.” Yeah. That’s deep.

There is a reason why books featuring fictional widows and widowers generally start three to five years after the spouse’s death — those first years are not pretty.

And my poor heroine’s story is the first two months after her husband’s death. Oh, my. What have I gotten myself into!

But, despite my misgivings, I keep plugging along with the book and my life. And maybe someday both will find an acceptable resolution.

As for the world outside my own little world? Nope. Not a hope. People have become too addicted to their own opinions to ever see the truth in the opposition. The situation would break my heart if it weren’t already broken.


(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.

10 Responses to “Grief, the Internet, and Other Unpolitic Matters”

  1. Hettie Barnard Says:

    Oh Pat, you say it so well for all of us who carry the same burden in our bodies and souls. I will read your book for one and know that I will find truths and wisdoms there that will help me forward on this everlasting road of grief and loss and missing that one person who you knew had your back even if sometimes you did not agree on an issue – at least you could debate without prejudice.

  2. Terry Says:

    I am at 18 months in my grief for the loss of my husband. Your grief blogs have been a daily reading for me over the past 12 months…a lifeline of understanding and support. Thank you!
    In regard to your post today I ask you to re-read your comment post dated December 20,2014 11:53; which is in regard to sociopaths/work acholics.I think it describes why I am so fearful and saddened by this election cycle.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m so sorry about your husband and glad you have found some guidance here.

      It seems to me all politicians are sociopaths. They all scare me. It’s the nastiness of the electorate that saddens me. But then, I am often sad.

  3. Malene Says:


    For what it’s worth, a great many of your thoughts and feelings are also mine.

  4. Sue Williams Says:

    It is 18 months since I lost my husband and for many months your blogs were the only things I could read and what kept me going, although they often made me cry. Last night I read your blog written on the 17th November, and I wept buckets. I seem to be missing my husband more than ever at present, but once again, you manged to describe my feelings exactly. My husband was a doctor, older and a lot wiser than me, and the thing i miss most of all right now is our wonderful conversations and the way he could always look at life rationally and calmly. Most of us here in the UK have been horrified by your recent election campaign and the hatred it seemed to have stirred up, and we tend to look on your President-elect with a mixture of horror and amusement. Oh how I wish with all my heart that I could sit and discuss it all with my beloved. Sometimes I am filled with panic when I think of the years that stretch ahead of me without him, but it does help to know that you, and many others feel as I do. Keep writing Pat – we need you. I have just read you most recent blog and one thing I have learned since I lost my husband – I will not do anything that I dont really want to do!, well meaning friends try to persuade me to do all kinds of things to “keep me busy” or “take my mind off things” but it doesnt work. I can be very determined, and will only do what I want to do and in my time. I would rather be in my home alone with my memories than with a crowd of people doing something that deep down I feel I do not want to do. Get well soon.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      No wonder you’re crying. In addition t needing/yearning to talk to your beloved, the 18-month mark for some reason I never figured out, brings a huge grief upsurge, almost as bad as at the beginning.

      Jeff was also a man who could look calmly and rationally at the world. Our discussions were electric, and even though I have found occasional joys since he’s been gone, the loss is still raw at times.

      I still panic at having to negotiate the future without him. Unfortunately, it is one of grief’s legacies, and comes back whenever there is a personal, national, or global trauma.

      Thank you for letting me know how much comfort my blogs brought you. it helps me find comfort and meaning in all those years of unbelievable pain.

  5. Hettie Barnard Says:

    I am also at the 18 month mark on my personal journey into grief. Thanks for your remark about the the 18 month mile stone. I thought that I was going crazy and regressing – just when I thought thst maybe I was coping better – think sometimes that I have got so used to feeling this terrible loss that it has taken on a life of its own and I don’t know if I can function without it anymore.
    Thanks Pat for being there for all our lost and grieving souls. You will never know how much your books and blog has meant to me in my darkest hours.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That is exactly the way I felt at 18 months. Everything about grief shocked me, and the horrible backtracking at 18 months came as another shock.

      I’m glad I was able to put my feelings into words. It’s helped connect all of us bereft and showed that much of the craziness is normal for our grief world.

      Take care of yourself. Wishing you peace.

  6. Terry Allard Says:

    Pat, I am so sorry to learn of your accident! You have been a caregiver and support to so many people in your family and to so many fellow grievers through your blog, 0f course you are feeling horrid,,,,it is your turn to want support! Grief isnot rational…you want it from your soulmate/life partner…and it stings sooooo bad not to have it in a painful hospital situation, I am 18 mths “out” from the loss of my husband, I absolutely HATE the thought of being ill (let alone in a hospital) without him to care for me, to reassure me, and to take me home at the end of it. Not rational but I would go from 65 years old to 5 years old and be screaming a version of “I WANT MY MOMMY!!!!” (AKA my husband)

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