An older article Resuming My Lonely March Into the Future was inexplicably posted to Facebook yesterday as a new blog post. People have been responding with care and support, and at first I felt guilty that I was gathering sympathy for something that was long past, but when I re-read that five-year-old post, I realized that most of it reflected current feelings. I was particularly sad this Christmas season, more than I have been for a long time. I did shed a few tears, though to be honest they came more from self-pity than raw grief. I simply could not bear another minute of trying to move on with my life. The void of his absence is still there, though of course nowhere near as strong as it was five years ago, and I am tired of his being dead. It remains true that sometimes the hardest thing we have to do is keep marching into the future, especially when the person who connected us to the world lives in our past
More than that, though, the past year was a hard one. I often felt unwell (nothing serious, colds and allergies and the lethargy that results from them). I stopped going to dance class for a while because it was no longer a haven. I delved back into the depths of my sorrow so I could write an honest book about grief. (Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One) Despite all my efforts to fulfill my dreams, this year I finally had to let go of my two-decade-old dream of finding a major publisher, my three-decade-old dream of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, my forever dream of getting youthfully fit, and oh, so many things. I also had to deal with my older brother’s recent death, which has shaken up my life and made me realize I need to start finding ways to prepare for taking care of myself when I get old. (Like finding a place to settle down, perhaps.)
But, as I did five years ago, I let myself wallow in sadness and indolence, and now I’m steadfastly (and optimistically) resuming my solitary march into the future.
Wishing us all a year filled with wonderful new dreams and good surprises.
Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.
January 9, 2019 at 12:32 pm
Keep strong, Pat. We’re still with you and rooting for you, no matter what.
January 10, 2019 at 7:55 am
Letting go of dreams, holding on to memories, clinging to the coat tails of a plan… wishing you good plans and a good year.
January 11, 2019 at 11:20 am
I think that I need to get your new book, “GRIEF: The Inside Story.”
January 11, 2019 at 11:41 am
Amazon says the book will take one to two months, but t only takes a few days. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0368039668/
January 11, 2019 at 1:51 pm
What you said Pat, so resonated with me, that you are sick of your life mate being dead. Yes, me, too.. At least – thank God – the holidays and their demand to be happy, find joy etc., are finally over. New Years Day would have been our 32nd wedding anniversary. When we picked that day to get married, we joked that at least he would always remember our anniversary, and we’d always have the day off.
This mid July, it will already be 3 years since he’s been gone. I cannot believe how fast that time has passed. The future without him is bleak, and the horizon without him in it is like a desert wasteland. True – I don’t cry every day like I did in those early months. But – I carry about my dead dream of happiness with him every day, like that infamous millstone hung around the neck, that heaviness that never quite goes away, pressing down on my soul and taking him further into the past, and farther from the reality of our loving life together. Driving alone in my car seems to accentuate that fact – I am alone. Alone – traveling over those familiar roads, to places we used to go together, That’s when the alone-ness really seems to hit me over the heart… Where are you, my love? Where did you go? Why can’t I find you? Nothing comforts, nothing really means as much to me as when he was here. Just that bleak, dark and lonely shadow hanging overhead, where his loving and goofy, silly presence was & used to fill me with a contented joy.
Sleep is the only place where I can encounter him now, in fuzzy dreams, where sometimes, I know he is dead, yet – I can accept it, cause he is still here with me, if that makes any sense. Nothing about him being gone makes any sense. The last dream I had of him was a couple of days ago… He indicated he was there was because we never had the chance to really say good-bye. He lay down besides me in my dream, and pressed his cheek against mine. Though he didn’t say it in words, I knew he was saying “I love you, but I have to go now”. Was that just my sorrow-filed subconscious filling in that dream with what I longed to hear? Or was that really, somehow him? Maybe some day, I’ll know.
January 12, 2019 at 10:30 am
It’s possible it really was him, in the dream. It’s possible it’s just your subconscious saying goodbye (I think it was Freud who contended we play all the roles in our dreams.) I too had that sort of dream about three years after he died. He came into my room, stood at the foot of the bed and touched my blanket-covered feet, then climbed onto the bed, on top of the covers, and cuddled up to me. He was in his underwear, and in the dream, I knew he’d come from where he had been sleeping, though I had the impression he’d been with someone, as if he had another life. He said, “I miss you.” I woke with tears in my eyes. Like you, I don’t know if that was really him, but it felt real, more than a dream.
January 12, 2019 at 4:15 am
I cannot over emphasize how much I appreciate and value your honesty. As I go towards the 4th anniversary of my husband’s death your example of naming the duality with which you live gives me validation for my own.
January 12, 2019 at 10:18 am
Thank you. It’s nice to know that what seems to be my self-pity and self-indulgence is actually helpful.
January 13, 2019 at 5:19 am
I do not feel I am self-indulgent or wallowing in self-pity. I hope I will feel that way five years from today. I have self-compassion and compassion for others who are also suffering because of various life experiences. I try to show self-compassion and compassion to others through acts of understanding, kindness and help. I think I am learning to live a life of ambivalence… a life simultaneously containing great joy and great sorrow. I like the conjunction “and” to describe this idea because it seems to give equal weight to both sorrow and joy. I dislike the conjunction “but” because it seems to negate one side over the other…usually used by others to indicate they think I am only looking on the “bad side” or want them to feel sorry for me. I am not looking for their pity nor my own. I am looking to be honest to myself by being honest to others.
I have very purposefully written this using the pronoun “I” because what works for me may not be right for you. I will add to my original comment the your writing has helped me to learn to be self-compassionate for my grief. I am not ashamed of my feelings and I hope you allow yourself the same if it rings true for you.
January 13, 2019 at 12:31 pm
It sounds as if you’re finding a balance. Good for you!
January 13, 2019 at 4:25 pm
Thank you my friend!
November 3, 2019 at 8:17 pm
Pat, I have read, I have cried. Yesterday was a 10 month anniv.; I enter the New Year,, my 366th day, on the 2nd. Thank you for your honesty. It is gentle, and it is informative. I am part ways through the What everyone should know about Grief; But it doesn’t invite reading more than few at a time. I am comforted that the intensities are there for more than just myself. Tis indeed a long lonely march… I am grateful for TEARS
November 3, 2019 at 9:10 pm
Yes, tears are good. We need to cry. It’s the best way of relieving the terrible pain of grief. Holidays such as the New Year are hard enough for those of us grieving. I can’t imagine adding the pain of the anniversary on top of that. Wishing you peace as you continue your long, lonely march.