Grief Eve

Today is the eve of the eleventh anniversary of Jeff’s death. For several years after the first year, the day before the anniversary was painful, but the anniversary itself was not as much of a problem. I don’t know why that was except that perhaps I’d been focused on the anniversary itself and so was prepared for that, but I wasn’t prepared for what I felt in the days leading up to the anniversary.

So far, today isn’t any different from any other day, which kind of surprises me. The calendar this year is exactly the same as the year he died, so I expected to feel something . . . extra. Apparently, he’s been gone so long that I no longer feel the “calendar” of his absence. During the first years, even when I didn’t actually check to see what day it was, I could feel the various anniversaries (his diagnosis, signing up for hospice, his dying) in the marrow of bones, in the depths of my soul.

Body memory such as I experienced is often associated with extreme stress, and the death of a spouse/life mate/soul mate is about as stressful as everyday life gets. Body memory is not a flashback, where you are actually experiencing the trauma again, though that re-experience did happen often during the early years. Nor is it simply a vivid memory. In fact, the body memory comes first, and only afterward do we remember why we felt such an upsurge of emotional and physical grief reactions.

I’ve always felt that my internal clock was reset on the day he died, so that ever after I talk about that day as “the beginning.” Back then, I meant it as the beginning of my grief, but learned to see it as the beginning of a new stage in my life, one that was dictated by his absence, my grief, my struggles to find a new way of living. Now that clock, or at least the internal memory of him and his dying days, has wound down. As you can see, I still count my years from that day, but it is a conscious count, not a body memory.

Many memories of my life before that delineation, that beginning, have faded with the years. It annoys my sister when she asks me about things that happened in our childhood and I don’t remember. (And it annoys me that she still asks, knowing that I don’t remember.) It’s as if those years belonged to someone else’s life in the same way the characters I have read or written weren’t actually my life. Truthfully, I don’t want to remember my younger years. Nor do I have any particular desire to try to remember my years with Jeff — I feel those memories in the void of his absence even if I don’t recall a specific incident.

For many years, every Saturday, the day of the week he died, was a sadder day for me. I could always tell when it was Saturday even when I didn’t know. (I’m one of those people who, if they were in an accident and a medical professional would test my cognizance by asking me the date or the day of the week, I’d fail.) But back then, I did know Saturdays. It’s been a long time since I “felt” a Saturday. All my days, at least as they pertain to Jeff and his absence and my grief, are pretty much the same now. There is a deep running current of sadness that will never leave me, but it doesn’t affect me the way it once did. I can still be happy, can still find joy in the little things of my life, such as the flowers poking their pretty little heads above ground.

But this is how I feel today. Tomorrow is the first time since he died that the anniversary falls on Saturday, so who knows what I will feel, what my body will feel, what I will remember.


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

20 Responses to “Grief Eve”

  1. MeRaw Says:

    Thinking of you.
    Take good care and stay safe.

  2. Uthayanan Says:

    I feel the memory is selective and it goes with your will power and with consciously or unconsciously. And completely different for every person even in the same family. Lot of cases with identical twins.
    This I have learned with observing my 32 of marriage life. And my life.
    My wife died on 11th and buried on 21st. Curiously I don’t remember both days. At the moment it hurts very much these days. I don’t know why I can’t remember the day. I was completely knockout.
    I never say to the people around me that I am (malheureux) unfortunate.
    At the moment I feel I will be never happy again.
    I am beginning my fourth year. Pat already said that people like me need 3-5 years to feel better. I believe in my case she was right.
    Some of my physical and mental strength temporarily lost. I am not worrying. I try to keep all her souvenirs and try to convert as a inner strength for her and for me. I don’t know. At the moment I love to keep with desire to try to remember my years with her without hurting myself.
    Pat for tomorrow or the day after I wish you pease, love, calm and serenity for Jeff and please take care of you.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you. A lot of people, like you, don’t remember the days, which is understandable. The shock, I think. A lot of days I didn’t remember, my body did, which was strange, but also understandable.

      • Uthayanan Says:

        Now I am pretty sure I cannot remember anything happened in my life by day until today. The last 40 years were with lot of tragic incidents happened in my life. Only happy remembrance was my marriage with my wife for 32 years. I would like to to say I am not a victim of grief or what happened in my past. Life is like that and I accept. As a mental practice I try to remember the day if something interesting happens in my future.

      • Uthayanan Says:

        Again something strange. I just had checked with her dead certificate which day she died. 11 February on Sunday. Always I felt the Sunday was the hardest day of my week I don’t know as you said my body knows ? I don’t have any clear mind to analysis. As today is Sunday it is really hard to understand some events exceed my capacity !

  3. Joe Says:

    “There is a deep running current of sadness that will never leave me…” Yes. I got through the four days earlier this week, somehow, but it’s sinking in that the angle of the light at this time of year will always remind me of that day.

    • Uthayanan Says:

      For me every year is different but I feel the third and fourth year is some how difficult for me. I have written already many times that something happent in my heart the second she left with in my arms at the palliative hospital (the only strange hospital people get in and suppose to never get out) a deep sad, some kind of soft pain hurts and relieve stays with me always no more no less. It is not destructive. For the sake of love and respect for her I hate to say with these negatives words. I am sure this feeling going to stay with me until end of my life.

      • Pat Bertram Says:

        I don’t think it’s negative to say that the feeling will stay with you until the end of your life. It’s the truth; it will. But I think there comes a time when that feeling starts to seem like an old friend.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      There’s always something that reminds us. At the beginning, it’s painful, but as the years go by, it becomes a comfort.

  4. Judy Galyon Says:

    I understand where you are coming from & I feel the Mondays. I guess after a year I an still in the crying stage as I am surrounded by so much that was him.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I was at the crying stage for years, and I wasn’t surrounded by much that was Jeff’s. The tears are just part of the territory.

    • Uthayanan Says:

      I have cried every day for two and half years. After three it was Stopped. But I can cry anytime and anywhere with or without reason for her even now. First time in my life I never felt any shame in public if some thoughts of her made me crying.

  5. thegriefreality Says:

    Thinking of you my friend x

  6. Laura Says:

    I find the days leading up to the actual date when my son passed away are often more difficult than the day itself. It’s the anxiety and the anticipation of “the day” he passed away. Grieving is tough. Sending you hugs.

  7. Jan Says:

    I totally understand what you’re saying. Thank you for sharing.

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