Note to My Grieving Blog Visitors

During the past ten years and ten months, ever since the death of my life mate/soul mate, I have been writing about my grief. My grief. Not yours, not anyone else’s. Mine. Many people find comfort in reading about my struggles to live with my grievous loss. Others find resonance with what they are feeling. But whether my grief posts strike a chord with you or not, they are ultimately my thoughts, my feelings, my attempts to make sense of my life both before he died and afterward.

I am not a therapist. I am not an expert. I have no degrees. I have only my own experience of grief to guide me through the chaos, and I don’t pretend to anything more.

I don’t object to your reading what I write; after all, that’s why I post my thoughts on a blog rather than in a private journal. I don’t object to your printing out a blog or two to take to your therapist (as many have) so that the therapist can understand more about the grief experience.

I do object to your chastising me. If you don’t like something I write, if it doesn’t make sense to you at your grief age (how long it’s been since your spouse died), it might in later years. Or not at all.

My experience strikes a chord with many people who have lost “the one,” which made me realize how un-unique my grief is. But although grief is universal, how we express it isn’t. Some people get sick. Some get angry. Some scream. Some cry for months on end. Some do all of those and more.

If you’ve lost someone dear to you to death, chances are I know how you feel. And you know how I felt and still sometimes do feel. Empathy works both ways. I don’t castigate you when you disagree. And you shouldn’t castigate me. I am not the voice of your grief. What I say changes nothing about what you are experiencing.

Often over the years when people were less than kind, I wondered if it were time to pack it in, but enough people find my words and my story inspiring that I keep going. But I don’t have to continue to write updates about grief and what I’ve learned. I don’t get paid for this. It’s not a job or even an obligation. I do it because I feel, I think, I empathize, and I write. It’s who I am.

I’ve written close to a million words about grief. I’m sure I’ve shed a pint of tears if not more while doing so. I certainly don’t need anyone to add to my grief. I always apologize for inadvertently wounding people because I am sensitive to people’s feelings, but there really is no need for my apology. I don’t set out to hurt anyone or even to help anyone. I simply feel it’s important to tell what grief is like — my grief, anyway — rather than what the so-called experts think it should be. If you don’t like any of my words, so be it. It’s not a personal affront. I don’t even know you, though if you’ve read many of my posts, you know me.

So think about that before you rail against me. If I had stopped writing about grief the first time someone told me how wrong I was, either by what I wrote or that I continued to write about grief long past the first few months, thousands of people would not have found the comfort they need, the understanding they sought, the courage to continue living another day.

Neither would I. And probably, neither would you, otherwise you wouldn’t have come here to read about my grief.

***

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

18 Responses to “Note to My Grieving Blog Visitors”

  1. artista10 Says:

    I lost a son at 2 days and a daughter at 23. So, while I do not understand the loss of your beloved, as you said I understand loss of someone you love so much. I have been chastised, accused of using it for sympathy and so much more but I keep writing about it and about my life in general. Kudos to you and I really do not care what is said, I write about my loss because my heart still loves them.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Of course you still love them and always will. I’ve heard that losing children is the hardest thing there is, and to lose two? I’m so sorry. It’s good that you’re writing. It is important for people to know that dealing with grief isn’t easy, isn’t going through a series of steps and then you are done, but is in fact a life-long experience.

      • artista10 Says:

        thank you so much Pat! Yes, it is a journey for sure. A juggle to be happy, love happy and live happy and a journey to grieve and yet live. Again, thank you so much! 🙂

  2. Karen Coetzer Says:

    Never, ever stop writing about grief. For the past 5 years, after the death of my husband, your blog about grief was my life line.

  3. Hettie Barnard Says:

    Your books and blogs have seen me through very dark days of black grief. You have been my constant consolation really understanding and putting words to grief’s nightmare.
    In my life you have made a huge difference. I will always be grateful that I discovered your books and knowing through them that I am not alone in my grief and that someone completely understands it.

  4. Uthayanan Says:

    Pat thank you very much for your post. You made me again to cry it is not your fault. Your grief posts changed me forever to understand grief. To respect grief. And to understand other people’s in grief.
    I cannot attend for the funeral for my father and my youngest sister because of some reason I don’t want to write here. I never cried because i was still in shock and I never had a chance to grief. I manage to attend my mother’s funeral in Canada she was died at the operation table. I didn’t cry for her because I would like her soul to leave in peace. She was already grieving for her husband and for her child.
    My French wife said I was wrong. I listened to her didn’t object her because i was too sad. That is one of the reason I never celebrated my birthday for more than 40 year’s until now. Now nearly there years she left me of cancer. I cried nearly every day for two years now I can cry any time anywhere with or without any reason easily.
    I am writing this words to my self and to other people to share their grief.
    I don’t mind of other people what they think of my grief.
    I have any jugement but I feel the most difficult grief was the people for their children and for their soulmate (Pat already said.)
    Specially women for their children.
    All my gratitude to Pat for her ten years writings for grief and for the next years to come.
    To all the people grieving I am very much sad and sorry for them and wish them peace and calm the name of my soulmate.
    I thank again Pat for her book
    Grief: The Inside Story

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I didn’t cry after my younger brother died. Nor did I cry when my mother died. I didn’t think I could cry. That’s one of the reasons why my grief after Jeff died shocked me so much. I’ve since learned that the loss of a spouse, life partner, soul mate, is completely different. It’s as if part of you dies, too.

  5. Estragon Says:

    For what it’s worth, I found that once I was able to absorb it, reading voraciously about other experiences was helpful. Books, blogs, forums, etc, including yours, all helped. Each perspective was different, but that helped me understand that each of us processes it in our own way.

    As you said, some scream or strike out. In the beginning (and sometimes even now), I honestly can’t remember what I read or said 5 minutes ago. I’m not a scream or strike out type of guy, but I can’t say I’ve never given a cutting comment to something. In my experience though, people who do that sort of thing, even in grief, are the sort of people who tend to take offence more generally.

    Indignation seems to be sort of an industry these days.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      This person sure took offence at an utterly innocent and personal observation. I felt bad for her until I realized we’re sort of in the same boat (though I am towards the front of the vessel) and I would never tell someone off if I didn’t like something they say. I might blog about it, but then, that’s my outlet for almost everythiing.

  6. jj7854 Says:

    There are those that don’t understand that grief is not a contest. Though many of those that do this are in the earliest days of shock with embedded anger and resentment. The days of being impatient when seeing couples argue over relatively benign things wanting to slap them into what we, the bereaved know, as time wasted. How many times did I just wanted to do that myself as they didn’t seem to understand what they had. Like I didn’t know what I had, before.
    I will never be able to fully express to you how glad I am that you stuck to it. If you had not, I would have probably never found the words to the truth of what I felt. To what I feel.
    Thank you for continuing to write. Thank you for bring true to yourself. ❤️

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I know what you mean about wanting to slap arguing couples, telling them to stop wasting their love, and ask them if this is really how they wanted to remember each other. They’ll find out the truth soon enough. Or one of them will.

      And you are so welcome! I’m the one who benefited from the writing even more than my readers. I made so many friends, you included!

  7. Terry J Says:

    As others have said in their comments your blog was a life line for me. I found in your words validation and normalization of my intense feelings , As I enter my sixth year of loss, I make it a point to try to do the same for others,as well as, be a voice for cultural change on the subject, As you say, I don’t expect everyone to have my context for how I grieve and by the same token I will NOT allow anyone to demand I have their viewpoint. I am wondering has someone has been abusive towards you or your views? You don’t have to answer that…but if that is ever the case please know I stand shoulder to shoulder with you for the right to grieve as I see fit.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      That’s good not to allow anyone to dictate how you grieve. It’s hard enough to recognize and define our own feelings without having to worry about other people’s expectations.

      The comment really wasn’t that bad, it’s just that she really railed at me for something she didn’t like. One sentence out of the perhaps thousands she read, and she felt the need to beat me over the head? Not a nice experience, especially since I tend to think I do good by saying the things I do. Not all the things I say are good, of course, but when it comes to grief, I am especially sensitive.

  8. Rishi Says:

    If there is one thing that grief has taught me its that I have every right to write or not write about the way I feel. It wasn’t any of the other people who went through it,it was me and as you very rightly said it’s a journey of a lifetime. I’ve written extensively about grief and loss and I intend to continue as and when I want to. It’s something we all need, a way to express ourselves and hope someone else out there walking the same journey gets it. Thank you for writing.

  9. Den Winters Says:

    Pat, as others have mentioned, you were a lifeline for me as I grieved (and grieve) for my lost spouse now over five years hence. Thank you so much.


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