I’ve been feeling a bit down the past couple of days. My nest building has come to a standstill because I can’t do any more unpacking until the foundation of the enclosed back porch (soon-to-be exercise and storage room) is fixed, and the guy who promised to fix it has so far been too busy to do the work. It’s always “next week” and apparently, next week never comes.

That’s not really a major issue, though, just a bit of frustration that adds to my overall feeling of being unsettled.

My meeting people has also come to a standstill. Although people I encounter have been nice to me, I spend most of my time alone, which isn’t a new development, of course, but that aloneness, too, adds to my feeling of being unsettled.

What isn’t coming to a standstill are all the small things that demand attention, such as a breaker box that was stuck (it took a guy from the electric company two hours to dismantle it and put it back together), smoke alarms that need to be replaced, scammers sorted out from the official folks I need to deal with. All these things make me wonder if I’m in over my head, which contribute to my feeling unsettled.

Mostly, though, it’s the date. I’d forgotten tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of Jeff’s death, but a tightness in my chest and stinging eyes have reminded me of why I am here in this place, this house.

Because he is gone.

My sadness this anniversary is more nostalgic than painful. My missing him doesn’t feel as personal as it used to. For most of my years of grief I lamented that I never felt any different. Lamented that I hadn’t changed. But being here in this house, trying to create a new life for myself, tells me the truth. I am not at all the same person who struggled to live while her soul mate struggled to die. Not at all the same person who witnessed the death of the one person who anchored her to life. Not at all the same person who screamed her angst to the uncaring desert skies. That woman, I am sure, is still feeling the agony of his absence, but she is not me. She could never do the things I am doing.

Despite all the changes, I still worry about stagnating — becoming the crazy cat lady sans cats — and so far, there is nothing in my new life that precludes this from happening.

I tell myself to be patient, that my new life will be revealed (will unfold?) in the years ahead, but for now, I’m feeling . . . unsettled.


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.

23 Responses to “Unsettled”

  1. Carol J. Garvin Says:

    It’s all new to you right now and the many things that need doing as you make it your own are a lot to cope with. Putting aside your ‘wanderings’ to do all of it may be feeling a little like postpartum depression, too. Feeling unsettled strikes me as a normal part of the settling in and recognizing the coming anniversary of Jeff’s death combined with everything else…well, if it were me, I’d be feeling overwhelmed. But take hope. I have every confidence that as time passes and you begin to feel more at home, the unsettledness will disappear. And as for that contractor guy…you’re the homeowner who will be paying his bill. I would call him and say something has come up and you need a firm commitment as to completion date. Let him know that if he can’t give one, you’ll reluctantly have to look for someone else to do the job. You might only be bluffing and there’s the risk he’ll call the bluff and walk away, but if that’s the kind of workman he is, you probably shouldn’t be letting him do the work anyway.

    So there! You have my two-bits’ worth again. Just be good to yourself, Pat. You’ve been through a lot.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Ah, Carol, I can always count on you to say the right thing and make me feel better. It really is all new — not just owning a house for the first time, but being in a new area, not knowing anyone, not being familiar with anything (except the air. The air is familiar.) Going to the library most days helps. It’s the start of a new routine and helps make the place feel a bit less new. Thank you for your two-bits’ worth, though your words are worth way more than that!

  2. Den Winters Says:

    Hi Pat. Over the years you have taught us how to persevere (?). You are doing it and will continue to. Each day brings the next and progress begets progress. You are doing great. I am in the midst of remodeling a new place after vacating the dream home we built. Still coughing up drywall dust. I get to decorate with what — the old, the new? I have to have it completed by my son’s wedding. A wedding where his mom’s seat will be empty. I get to manage that with all the surrounding joy of the occasion. The next day is upon us. And we persevere.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s amazing to me how all do persevere. We do keep going despite the empty seats. From what I’ve heard, weddings are hard — despite the happy occasion, you’re always aware of that empty seat. As for drywall — at least I don’t have to deal with dust. The previous couple of owners did most of the upgrading. They just left a few things for me. The dustiest will be the basement. I don’t think it was ever cleaned. Thank you for the encouraging words, Best of luck with your new place.

  3. LMH Says:

    Hey Pat. Acknowledgement and a big hug to this time of the year.

    You say; “Despite all the changes, I still worry about stagnating — becoming the crazy cat lady sans cats — and so far, there is nothing in my new life that precludes this from happening.”

    I say you have been constantly growing, experiencing living, questioning since I met you. This pretty much precludes the risk of stagnating looking forward 🙂

  4. Charlotte M. Liebel Says:

    Hello Pat.
    A couple of years ago, an acquaintance bought a mobile home, fixed it up nicely, and then got a new hobby. You see, she had friends in the Park and had a part-time job but It was not enough.
    She learned that a pet shelter needed someone to care for dogs at their home. The dogs needed to be socialized and walked. Well, she needed to be needed and she also needed to exercise. She loved to walk.
    After caring for several dogs, she found one that she really took a liking to and decided to adopt ‘her’ dog. We haven’t been in touch for a while.
    Maybe this idea was just a way of making a house a home. Maybe this is something you might enjoy.
    There must be a bulletin board around somewhere in your Park. Walking a neighbor’s dog might work for you, too. Not everyone who has a dog enjoys walking. But I know you do! Happy hunting.

    Charlotte M. Liebel

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      This is a weird town. Cats and pitbulls. Not much else. And there is no way I would ever volunteer to walk a pitbull! But your point is well taken. Thank you!

      • Charlotte M. Liebel Says:

        OMGosh, Pat. and, you are right about the dogs. Am so happy you found a library because that’s one of my hideouts! The town we (family of married daughter) just moved away from is close enough to drive to. I like the library, Denny’s and mall shopping.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          The real joy right now (besides having a place of my own) is that the library is only about four short blocks away. An easy walk, one I take two or three times a week. I’m also trying to get my books into the library, which will make it even more “mine.”

  5. Jean Says:

    Know that you aren’t alone. You just perfectly described many of us out here. I have EXACTLY the same thoughts you just described. March was 6 years for me. Same feelings as you. That gives one some comfort, doesn’t it? We aren’t alone…..❤️🥰

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s odd that people still insist everyone’s grief is different, and it is, to the extent that we are all different. But I’ve found more similarities — and comfort — in knowing that others who have lost someone intrinsic to their life feel much the same as I do. Wishing us both peace during this grief-full month.

  6. Judy Galyon Says:

    When you get a few more things finished & start work on your next book, you will feel better. Who knows, you might even find a new thing of interest, such as wood working or painting. The world is your oyster!!!

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I think you’re right, both about a new project and the world being my oyster. When I finally get the house fixed and everything put away, I’ll have plenty of space for a lot of projects!

  7. Kathy Says:

    The initial excitement is, well, exciting. And then it hits you that everything is different and you feel so unsettled. It takes me about six months in a new place to feel like I’m home. You are so courageous, leading the way for so many! Sometimes that’s all it takes for the rest of us – to see somebody doing it. To know we are not alone no matter whatever challenge we’re faced with.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      You’re so kind. I don’t feel courageous, but I do realize that so much of what I experience is not limited to me. A lot of people have to create new lives for themselves when their old ones disappear on them. I hope you are doing well in your new place.

  8. Constance Says:

    PATIENCE! Things will fall into place in time.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I had to laugh at this. I keep thinking I’ve been here waiting for things to happen for months, and it hasn’t even been three weeks. So, patience. I can do that.

  9. Terry J Says:

    As you know I am coming up on my fourth anniversary of my husband’s death and have recently moved into a condo…I am not looking for it to feel like home…maybe it will or maybe it won’t…neither way brings him back,so for me stakes aren’t high. I am much more financially secure and literally secure (as in no one breaking in) here which gives me an excellent feeling of safety. My active grief is changing to lonliness not the “unsettled” you are experiencing. I think our culture shames us for being lonely and tells us that if we don’t just get out there and make a life we are failures! Lonely equals not trying hard enough…you reap what you sow…perhaps even becoming a crazy cat lady! I say to our “culture” it is just not that easy for me to fix “lonely”, afterall I did it once and he died.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      It’s always hard to figure out where to live, what to do, even how to be when we lose that one person who anchored us to life and a deeper meaning, but eventually, we do have to plop ourselves somewhere. I like your solution of condo living, but I think this small town life will suit me — I talk to people over back fences. I can walk almost everywhere. And I’m getting to know a few people. Also getting to know a few bugs that meander into the house, but so far I haven’t had to resort to bug bombs or exterminators. I’m still getting used to night sounds. One scary noise turned out to be the neighbor’s cat jumping onto my awning. I hope I’ll be safe here. Thank you for stopping by. I always enjoy e-talking with you!

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: