Starting the Year With a Feeling of Dread

In a post I wrote six years ago, I mentioned that I was starting the year with a feeling of dread. Back then, I didn’t know what brought on the feeling, but I have the same feeling this year, and I do know what is causing the dread.

I don’t like talking about my financial situation because it makes me look like a fool, but the truth is, I spent most of the last decades looking after sick and dying relatives. At the time, it seemed the right thing to do (and I still know it was), but it left me without any retirement. I’ve been living off savings and a small inheritance, and this year there will come a time when I have to make some hard decisions, such as where to live and where to get a job. (The only thing I am qualified for is taking caring of folks, and I simply cannot do that anymore.)

Knowing that this decision was coming was a big impetus to getting my works in progress finished, but I destroyed my arm before I could finish the third book, and I haven’t been able to get back to it. Maybe I will finish it this year before my life changes beyond recognition . . . again.

I’ve drifted this past year, and unless I make those hard decisions, I probably will continue to drift until the money for one more grand adventure is gone and the need to settle into a new and unwelcome life becomes dire. (Oddly, the decision to get up and go on that last big adventure is just as hard as the other decisions because once the adventure is done, then those other changes will have to be made.) Status quo will hold until May when I head up to Seattle. On that camping/hiking trip, I will face the reality of what I am capable of, and if it is possible to live a nomadic life for a while.

(I have two dreams — one, to hike one of the long trails, and the other to be nomadic for a year to see what if anything will happen. It’s entirely possible both dreams are leftovers from my grief days. It’s also possible they stem from the unwillingness to do what I must to take care of myself. Whatever the reason, I do yearn for a spiritual journey, a vision quest, something that catapults me into “more.”)

I have not cried at all since March 26th, the day before my seven-year grief anniversary, the day before I got the external fixator off my destroyed arm, but in the middle of last night I woke with tears on my face, whispering, “I am so afraid, Jeff.”

I have been very good about living in the day and for the day, without too much thought for the future or too much looking to the past, but all this talk of a new year must have gotten beneath my defenses. (And then, there is this dang flu that came to visit me, which doesn’t help matters.) Admittedly, with the state of my arm this past year, there was really no other choice but to live in the day, to heal and exercise the poor limb, but it is slowly getting to the point that no further progress can be made, so I will have to live with the weakened arm.

There is nothing I can do about anything today — not the finances, not the fear, not the flu — so I’m going back to bed.

I hope all your decisions this year will be easy ones.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram 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.

13 Responses to “Starting the Year With a Feeling of Dread”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    My organization is always looking for qualified people. Perhaps if you have to look for a job, you can try them?

  2. Terry Allard Says:

    My heart goes out to you…much much sympathy for the position you find yourself in this year. Crying in the nite for your life partner is so very sad! It makes me want to hold your hand because you have done so much for me with your grief blogs. They have given me a voice and a focal point to describle the twisting,wrenching,confusing,incomprehensible life I have been thrown into since Ron died. Validation is an awesome gift…I thank you for it! Consider yourself getting a “virtual” hug and hand hold my friend.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s funny that we want so much for the pain of grief to be over, but even when it is, there is still that feeling of incomprehension and loss, as if something just is not right and will never be right again. Thank you for the validation you just gave me on this post. Sometimes I worry about sounding whiny rather than simply telling my truth. Sending you a hug in return.

  3. Constance Says:

    This year is different for me too! I don’t know where to go or what to do, in a different way than you. I am at a loss in a different way. Caring for Paul and Lon is hard, especially now with my new added health issues. Government has messed things up financially for all people. I feel like I am in “Limbo” right now. I will eventually snap out of it and move on.

  4. Don Tompkins Says:

    I can’t imagine how you are feeling right now. My book, I Minus 72, isn’t selling like I’d want it to, or even expected it to, but I am with the one I love, my wife Kelly, and I am happy. I send you my greatest hope that you will come out of this, your greatest challenge, strong, healthy, and with hope for the future. You are really a wonderful person and my prayer is that you once again feel that. If I can ever do anything to be of help to you, I hope you reach out. Don Tompkins

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I understand about not getting the sales you wanted. I’m still amazed at my naivete in thinking that writing would cure my financial ills. Be sure to give your wife an extra hug tonight and create a good memory for the new year. Thank you for the compliment and hopes for my future.

  5. Toni Says:

    Not only do I empathize with you, I totally relate. I have taken care of my grandchildren for almost 17 years. No 401K, no SS investments. I wouldn’t change the past for anything, but the future is going to have some definite challenges.

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