I wasn’t sure I wanted to post a blog today — I’m feeling uneasy and didn’t really want talk about it lest it seem as if I were complaining, though that wouldn’t have been my intention. Then I decided that this disinclination to “share” anything today wasn’t worth breaking a 1,087 daily blog streak, and anyway, I’ve often spoken of things that didn’t exactly show me in a good light.
(“Share” is in quotation marks because I have come to hate that word — it’s such a social networking cliché, but it’s the only one I’ve found that works in this particular context.)
To be honest, this uneasiness is not that big of a deal — I’m just feeling out of sorts and didn’t want to seem self-indulgent by writing about it. Since I couldn’t think of another topic that I haven’t done to death (I mean really, how many times can I write about grass?), and since I didn’t want to use such a feeble excuse as uneasiness to quit the daily blog routine, and since I’ve confessed to worse things, here I am.
Yesterday I went to a meeting of a guild I belong to, and maybe three times as many people showed up compared to what I’m used to. I was fine while I was there, but when I got home, I felt . . . not sad exactly, but definitely not happy. Just uneasy. I have never done well in groups, and this was the biggest group I’ve been in for more than two years, and apparently, it was more than I could handle.
I woke this morning in that same uneasy state, but since I didn’t have to work today, I went outside to continue digging up weedy grass. (Oops. I there is that “G” word, after all.) I had nothing else to do, and I figured the physical activity would help get me back to my normal stoic self. It didn’t. In fact, it made me wonder what the heck I’m doing all that work for. It seems silly, really — all that work and worry just for a bit of a lawn and a few flowers. But then I reminded myself I need a focus. It doesn’t matter how silly the focus is — it’s important to have something to concentrate on outside of myself to keep me from looking too deeply into myself or looking too closely at my life.
I’m okay living alone (and considering my reaction to yesterday’s meeting, I’m apparently more okay being alone than being around a lot of people), but if I look at the realities — growing old alone, having no one to do nothing with, having to rely so much on myself — it just seems too dang sad. So I try to focus on other things, no matter how silly they might seem. Like working in the yard.
This uneasiness will pass as moods generally do. If not, well, I’ll be back at my care-giving job tomorrow, and that for sure will make me think of something — or rather someone — besides myself.
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.
September 15, 2022 at 5:06 pm
By nature you were un active person. Physically, mentally, and intellectually. Some times uneasiness I presume like a rupture happens anytime and to anybody.
Happily I suppose physically you are in good health.
With some meetings some kind of intimidating conversations make a sensible person directly or indirectly uneasy during or after the meeting.
Please take care of yourself and take a rest if it is necessary.
September 15, 2022 at 5:58 pm
I’m basically an introvert, so being around people saps my energy, so it’s possible I’m just tired. Anyway, I rested all afternoon.
September 15, 2022 at 9:12 pm
Melancholy comes and goes, but it is very human and very relatable. I always appreciate bloggers honesty and willingness to share the difficult moments as well as the good. It makes me feel less alone in my own uneasy thoughts and feelings, so thank you for sharing and I wish you a quick return to ease. Gardening is so therapeutic. It can seem silly sometimes when nature does such a better job of things, but for me my garden is all about stress release. Take care.
September 15, 2022 at 9:47 pm
Thank you for understanding. And oh — melancholy is the perfect word for how I felt today.
September 16, 2022 at 12:34 pm
It sounds like two situations have collided to contribute to your uneasy day. I’m a fellow introvert (that also has to deal with a bit of claustrophobia) so I understand the stress that can be an offshoot of having to function in group situations. Add to that the feelings of vulnerability that increasing age can bring with it and suddenly melancholy descends. Either one can be distressing, but together…well, no wonder you’re having a difficult day.
You’ve already acknowledged “this too will pass” as my friends like to say, but there is the enduring truth of our mortality. The older I get, the more often it occurs to me that time is passing with increasing speed. I never used to think about the implications of that, but it’s hard not to as I age. I’m not currently alone, but as my husband ages along with me, there’s no guarantee we’ll both be around to support each other. Rather than dwelling on the negative aspects, however, I’m trying to focus on what steps I can take now that would have a more positive impact on my upcoming days. I think you’ve taken a lot of positive steps in recent years, and are on the right track. I’m confident this uneasiness will pass and you’ll soon feel better about everything.
September 16, 2022 at 6:14 pm
People always tell me not to think about growing older, but the way I see it, if I don’t, who will? As you said, it’s important to take steps now, and anyway, even if both of you are around, it’s not guarantee that you can help each other. When I was taking care of my dad, I often had to take him to the doctor, and I saw so many very old and very frail people trying to take care of a disabled spouse. It seemed sad to me, but back then, everything seemed sad.
September 17, 2022 at 12:55 pm
I think we always hope our special someone will always be there for us; but as you know all too well, life doesn’t give us that guarantee. Making a few plans, or at least considering options, reassures us that we have a modicum of control over our future. It may be only an illusion, but…. 🙂
September 17, 2022 at 1:03 pm
Illusions help get us through a lot of reality.
September 20, 2022 at 10:46 pm
First, I’d like to say that I discovered your blog a couple weeks ago and your articles about the half-life of grief and the five major challenges in the second year of grief are the most helpful thing I’ve ever read since descending into this hell that is grief. I also just ordered your book ‘Grief, the inside story’. So many places online will tell you that if you’re still ‘stuck in grief mode’ after 6 months, then you have ‘prolonged’ or ‘complicated’ grief, and essentially there’s something wrong with you (which certainly doesn’t help when you’re already deep in a dark hole!).
Your articles are a ray of light and hope in this darkness.
I also greatly enjoy looking at the marvelous photos of your garden!! Such a lovely, bright and peaceful place.
Everything you write about your garden I find interesting and can completely relate. I too have a little garden that my husband started and I continue to maintain. I know all about the constant struggle with the darn grass (in my case crab) which is very exhausting indeed, though ultimately so worth it. The zinnias, morning glories, wildflowers, tomatoes, squash and cantaloupes, and also the many different birds (have a bird feeder), butterflies and bumble bees are one of my greatest sources of joy these days (so not looking forward to winter, lol). Gardens are magical places, just looking out my kitchen window or sitting on the porch taking in the view makes me happy, even though I miss my husband sitting next to me every second. There are moments when I strongly feel his presence, he created this garden and I keep it exactly the way he designed it.
Scott was a great artist, a musician and painter, and I’m surrounded by the many gorgeous paintings he left me; he mostly painted flowers and horses, the latter because I grew up with them and love them so much. I also can listen to his music, all the songs he wrote, hear his voice. So that is beautiful yet painful at the same time; while looking at the paintings soothes me, hearing his voice is so emotional I can only listen to it for a little while, as I instantly start to bawl.
He left this world on August 22, 2020 after a five-year battle with cancer. He was the most kindhearted, loving and creative person I’ve ever known. We were planning to buy a house with a larger property so we could grow more of our own foods – his idea, he wanted us to become as self-sufficient as possible. He really became skilled at growing stuff, in the garden of course in summer, but also in grow closets in the basement in winter hydroponically. We were planning on having my Mom move in with us as well. When I said I’m worried about her being so far away (in Europe), Scott said ‘just tell her to come live with us’. So that was the plan two years ago. But then his health deteriorated, and the pandemic with ensuing travel ban happened, my Mom wasn’t allowed to come, she so much wanted to support the both of us, and then wanted to be here for me after Scott’s passing, but it wasn’t possible. And now that international travel has resumed, she fractured a vertebra in February and despite comprehensive treatment hasn’t yet fully recovered. So we’re not sure yet what to do.
Scott and I met in May of 1996 when I was living in Paris and he had a concert there with his band. It was love at first sight, and we got married four months later, having only spent two weeks together in person and the rest of the time gotten to know each other by phone and snail mail. We truly were two peas in a pod.
I still can’t believe he’s not here anymore.
The last 5 years when he was sick, we were together 24/7 and just completely happy that way, we were convinced he would get better again soon. Even when he was weak from the many rounds of chemo and radiation therapy, he never complained, his eyes were always sparkling, he was so full of love and life energy, and so brave and determined to become healthy again. He told his best friend and his sister he had to get well because there was no way he would ever leave me. Both told me this after he had passed, and it made me so happy (of course I knew this but still it was deeply touching to hear).
Not a moment goes by that I don’t miss him, wish he were here so we could “do nothing” together, as you so aptly wrote in your post. What is more wonderful than to simply enjoy being alive together? And to not have that anymore is really the worst part of it. All the practical matters I can learn to handle alone (though everything was easier with a partner), but not the quiet just being without him. This void is what’s the most difficult to bear. Plus, I’ve always been a worrywart and he was my rock and encourager; he could make everything better with just one funny or spot on comment. The world is a hostile place without him and I feel homeless because Scott was my home.
Anyway, sorry for the long ramble, I really just wanted to thank you with all my heart for your beautiful, enlightening articles that are so full of wisdom, compassion and kindness. And I look forward to many more!
September 21, 2022 at 9:03 am
I am so sorry about your husband. It’s truly difficult to lose a person who means the world and more to you. No matter what people say, two years, five years, a dozen years is nothing in the face of such a loss. It changes you; you become a person who can live and perhaps even thrive with a hole in your heart and soul, and that takes a very long time. Wishing you peace.
September 22, 2022 at 12:16 am
Thank you. I’m currently comforted by your four-year theory which cuts me some slack while giving me hope that things might get a little easier eventually.
September 22, 2022 at 7:07 am
Things will get easier eventually. It just takes a whole lot longer than the “experts” allow for. You will probably always miss him, and you will probably always feel a void inside, but the daily pain and intense yearning do dissipate, though on special occasions, you might still have an upsurge of grief years later. Please do not think there is anything wrong with you. What is wrong is . . . death.