Expunging Flaws

There are many words and phrases I would like expunged from the English/American language, such as “veggies” (I don’t see what’s wrong with “vegetables”), intestinal fortitude (a meaningless phrase since all that is necessary is “fortitude”), executive decision (a phrase that is often misused in place “decision” when someone is talking about a simple personal decision rather than a decision made for a group or a decision with executive power).

My latest problem word is “flaws.” To be honest, there is nothing wrong with the word, just with the concept, especially when it comes to people. This is a word loved by writers who insist it’s necessary to write “flawed” characters for them to be believable, but I have always and will always disagree with this premise.

Tell me honestly, except for a few physical attributes that you might not like about yourself, do you think you have flaws? No, of course you don’t. You think you have problems. You laugh about your quirks. You are beset with internal conflicts. You might even have a list of traits that you try to work on, such as trying to be kinder or more disciplined, but you don’t have flaws. You are who you are. All the parts, good and bad (and who is to say which are which) make up your character.

And if you do think you have flaws, why do you think so? Aren’t you perfect in what you are — you? Who else can be you? Who else can you be?

To have flaws means to have imperfections that mars a person or thing. Why would any part of you be an imperfection? Why would you allow anyone, even yourself to think you are intrinsically imperfect?

You might have things you dislike about yourself. Other people might see things they dislike about you. But why are these flaws? These traits are the very fabric of your being.

Who gets to define perfect? Imperfection? Flaw? And why would we give anyone the power to define such terms?

We are who we are.

Often, we try to “improve” ourselves with diet, exercise, different thoughts, different activities, but these are all just gild on our already perfect selves.

I might not have paid attention to the latest batch of “flaw” words, might have continued to keep my irk to myself, but I recently read an article that attempted to list all the flaws in a certain person in the public eye, and oddly, the article had a completely different impact on me than it should have. All those “flaws” combined to make an incredibly unique human, someone perfect in and of themselves. Hated, of course. Loved, to be sure. Scorned. Admired. Vastly rich according to some people. Bankrupt according to others.

But, oh such a perfect individual.

As are we all.

When we look at a scene, at a flower, a field, we don’t see “flaws,” we don’t even notice imperfections because any supposed imperfection is lost in the whole. And, as with humans, who is to say what those imperfections might be? A flower is perfect in its perfection. A bucolic scene is perfect in and of itself.

Are we less than the fields? The flowers?

Nope.

To think of ourselves as flawed seems to put us above whoever or whatever happened to create us. It’s as phony an idea as the Persian rug makers who purposely put a flaw into each of their rugs supposedly because of their belief that only God can make something perfect. That speaks to me of arrogance, to believe you are so absolutely perfect you have to create a flaw to make yourself less than perfect.

Billions of years ago, the universe was born. Through untold eons it learned how to fashion various life forms, and finally, it formed a semblance of a human being. A million years later, our present species came into being, and many thousands of years after that, I was born. You were born. Each of us is the culmination of an untold number of twists and turns in creation. How can the end result not be perfect?

So, change the thing you don’t like about yourself, but don’t believe that thing is a flaw. It is not.

***

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.

House Proud

People keep asking me when I’m going to write another book, and I finally have an answer for them: when I stop being so house proud.

I recently read an article telling authors not to get distracted by housework, which never used to be a problem for me. I didn’t mind clutter. mostly because I was too involved in other things to pay attention to it. I didn’t mind a little dust or even a lot of dust — I figured it was better sitting on the top of tables and such rather than floating in the air.

But now, I like seeing my place clean. I like the clutter-free rooms and the dustless furniture and floors. It tickles me to get up in the morning and see my charming living room.

It even pleases me to mop the floors and dust the furniture. I especially like being able to dust the ceiling fans. (The last place I lived the ceiling fans were so caked with greasy dust that I was never able to get them clean.)

Surprisingly (surprisingly to me, that is), all this housework doesn’t feel like work. It feels like playing house.

Maybe if I’d owned a house when I was younger it wouldn’t be such a joy taking care of this place. I certainly wouldn’t have had the same feeling of connection, and I know I would have worried all the time about things falling apart. (Entropy seems to loom large in my life.) For now, though, it’s been fun doing small repairs around the house, most recently rescreening the windows. (I have vinyl windows, and it’s easy, though time consuming, to replace the old screen fabric with new.)

It’s not just physical time I spent on the house but mental time, time I would normally have used for writing (or more probably, thinking about writing). I think about where I want the fence to go, where to plant the multitude of bulbs I ordered, when to order the small trees I want and where to put them. I think about a container garden I would like to put in a small triangular space between the house and the back-door railing.

Ah, so many things to think about!

Someday, perhaps, I won’t be so enamored of all this house care, and will free up my mind for writing.

Meantime, I’m proud to be house proud.

***

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.

Housewifery

People keep asking me if I’m writing, but . . . no, not to the extent that I’m actually putting words on paper (or what passes for paper in the computer world). I am still thinking of my next book, however, mentally putting together bits and pieces of my new life as a housewife (houseowner, actually, but it sometimes feels as if this house is a significant other, as if we’re married to death do us part).

I do have a victim for this potential book — someone I would like removed from my life: a fellow who plays his music way too loud too often, with the bass turned up (turned down?) so that it vibrates my windows and my brain pan, and can be heard for blocks away. (Someone said he’s letting his customers know his drug “store” is open.) Considering that he’s also been rumored to sell tools he’s stolen from a mutual neighbor, there would be a whole list of possible villains. (Though is it villainy if the doer gets rid of a neighborhood problem? Isn’t it more like pest control?)

But this vague musing is the only writing activity I’ve been doing. Mostly, I’m doing house things such as stuccoing over a doggie door, framing and painting a new door, and setting up solar lights. Ah, the things one does when it comes to the caring and feeding of one’s house!

The yard still holds a surprise or two. I woke the other morning to this little glory. It’s amazing anything can survive this heat, but some plants seem to like the area. Now I just have to find more things that can take care of themselves.

As for taking care of myself — I have days where I take care of myself and days when I don’t, but I am trying not to let the heat make me too much of a hermit. Yesterday I went with a couple of friends to see the Koshare Dancers — a pretty amazing troupe of dancers that tries to live up to the spirit of the native dances. And other excursions are in the planning stage. Oddly, considering that for years I spent hours every day roaming the desert, I seldom walk just to walk any more. Maybe when the house projects are coming to end, maybe when it cools off, I’ll be more likely to hoof it for the sake of hoofing it, but now, I merely walk for transportation — such as going to the library, to an occasional exercise class. Or to the hardware store. I’ve never before been on a first name basis with hardware store workers!

Such an adventure, this owning a house.

***

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.

The Nasty Thing in the Wood Shed

I didn’t mean to drop a zinger and then leave you hanging. Well, maybe I did. I am a writer after all, and we writers like to leave you wanting more.

Besides, I only learned the truth about the nasty thing in the wooden shed a couple of days ago. To be honest, I didn’t think the capped pipe was anything at all. I was simply being mysterious for the sake of the story. What spooked me (a bit) was the way the contractor kept staring at the sewer pipe and saying, “Anything could be in there.”

He didn’t tell me until afterward that he wondered if it might be a pipe bomb, and he hadn’t wanted to worry me.

As it turns out, nothing was in the tube, though the pipe wasn’t as innocuous as I thought it was. It was a makeshift hydroponic contraption for growing marijuana. There were several holes drilled along the length of the pipe, one for each seedling. After the plants were in place, the pipe was then filled with water. Drains were attached to the capped ends to remove or change the water without disturbing the growing plants.

Since the pipe was empty, it was easy enough to dispose of — it went into the dumpster.

There haven’t been any other discoveries. A winter storm put the work on hold, but also that same winter storm helped ease my sinus condition. Apparently, I am allergic to the ornamental pear trees that are prevalent in the neighborhood. They truly are beautiful, with those bright white blossoms, but the beauty is not worth the pain. (Though it will have to be. This is a neighbor’s tree, not mine, so I’m stuck with the sinus problem.)

Next week, perhaps, the gas company will come and move the gas line so we can finally get the porch foundation poured. After that, they will put in the subfloor so we can get at the basement.

I wonder what we will find when we start moving things around down there? Dust of course. Lots of dust. And dirt because the basement is bordered on two sides by an open crawl space. But other than that, who knows? Anything can be buried in a 90-year-old basement.

***

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.

Something Nasty in the Wooden Shed

My next book seems to be writing itself, which, now that I think about it, is a good thing since obviously, I am not writing it. Obvious to me, anyway. When I am not actively involved in my new house and new neighborhood and new town, I loll around on my new couch and read new books from the library.

All of which might make for a nice life, but doesn’t do much for the word count.

I still don’t know what the story is, though I do have the main character (Pat from Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare), and I have the setting (this house of course). And I have a sinister atmosphere with the spooky basement, the cistern we uncovered beneath the enclosed porch, and now the shed, and more specifically, the sewer line in the shed.

The shed is actually a garage, though because it can’t be used as a garage quite yet, we have all gotten in the habit of calling it a shed. One corner of the building leans severely enough to the right that it prevents one of the doors from opening. The contractor had thought overwatering the flowers near the foundation of the garage made the floor crack, which made that corner lean precariously. Since all the other corners of the garage are completely straight, however, he’s decided it’s unlikely the garage tilted, because if it had tilted, the opposite corner would have also had to tilt. And it didn’t. So now he thinks the garage was built like that.

Curiouser and curiouser!

Then, as we were checking out the ceiling in the shed/garage, he pointed out a ten-foot piece of turquoise pipe stashed in the rafters.

I’d never given a second thought to the pipe (never even given it a first thought!) — it was just one of the many pieces of junk that needs to be cleared out. He stared up at that piece of turquoise tubing and wondered aloud what it was doing there. And what he should do about it.

I told him he could haul it away with all the rest of the junk, but he kept staring at it. “The pipe is capped on both ends,” he said. “Anything could be stored in there.”

Oh.

See? Plenty of atmosphere for my new novel.

At least, I hope that’s all it is — atmosphere — and not something nasty in the wooden shed.

***

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.

UNFINISHED is on Sale at Amazon!

If you have a stack of Amazon gift cards that are burning a hole in your pocket, the paperback edition of my novel Unfinished is on sale today.

The story: Amanda Ray thought she’d grow old with her pastor husband David, but death had other plans. During David’s long illness and his withdrawal from her, Amanda found solace in the virtual arms of Sam Priestly, a college professor she met at an online support group for cancer patient caregivers. Amanda thought that when their spouses were gone, she and Sam would find comfort in each other’s arms for real, but though David succumbed to the cancer that riddled his body, Sam’s wife, Vivian, survives. Vivian had been in the process of divorcing Sam when she fell ill, and after the diagnosis, Sam agreed to stay with her until the end. Since Sam plans to continue honoring his vow, Amanda feels doubly bereft, as if she is mourning two men.

Rocked by grief she could never have imagined, confused by her love for Sam and his desire for her to move near him, at odds with her only daughter, Amanda struggles to find a new focus for her suddenly unfinished life. As if that weren’t enough to contend with, while clearing out the parsonage for the next residents, Amanda discovers a gun among her devout husband’s belongings. Later, while following his wishes to burn his effects, she finds a photo of an unknown girl that resembles their daughter.

Having dedicated her life to David and his vocation, this evidence that her husband kept secrets from her devastates Amanda. If she doesn’t know who he was, how can she know who she is? Accompanied by grief and endless tears, Amanda sets out to discover answers to the many mysteries of her life: the truth of her husband, the enigmatic powers of love and loss, and the necessity of living in the face of death.

Although the feelings of grief Amanda experiences are based on my emotional journey during my first two months of profound grief, the story itself is fiction. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have to deal with not only the loss of one’s mate, but the loss of the idea of one’s mate. Well . . . yes, I guess I can imagine how it would feel, because I wrote the novel! I hope you will read UNFINISHED. It’s an important book because too few fiction writers portray the truth of new grief, and that lack leaves the newly bereft feeling isolated and as if they are the only ones dealing with grief’s craziness.

You can purchase the print version of UNFINISHED (published by Stairway Press) here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1941071651/

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Too Many Deaths

It seems as if I’ve accidentally taken a vacation from the internet. I haven’t posted a blog in over a month (I even forgot to celebrate the eleventh anniversary of this blog), and I’ve made only an occasional visit to Facebook. It wasn’t planned, this vacation. It’s just that life — and death — got in the way of my usual e-activities.

My older brother’s death affected me — and continues to affect me — so much more than I thought it would. (For someone who thinks she is as self aware as I think I am, my own reactions to death always manage to surprise me.) I thought I’d grieved the loss of my brother when I left him on the street in Colorado, but death is different. Irrevocable. And I am very conscious of his being gone.

My brother had given me the stuff in his storage unit a few years ago with the caveat I wouldn’t do anything with it until he was gone. (Did he know how close to death he was? I don’t know. I thought this disposition of his possessions was just his usual doom saying.) So, in addition to dealing with his death, I had to deal with his possessions. Well, my possessions. It was incredibly sad to see his preparations for a life as a musician he never got to live. It was incredibly sad having to dispose of the provisions for that unlived life. (There is no way I could have kept his things. I have enough of my own — and Jeff’s — stuff in storage without having to add my brother’s, too.)

Jeff’s death brought to the fore questions about death and the meaning of my life as well as fears of my growing old alone. My brother’s death didn’t leave me with the mystical quest Jeff’s death did; instead, it made me question the practicalities of my life. Made me realize I need to prepare for my old age. Considering the longevity of my parents, I thought that old age would be a long time coming, but both brothers closest to me in age, one a year younger, one a year older, are now gone. My younger brother didn’t come within thirty years of my mother’s final age. My older brother didn’t come within thirty years of my father’s age.

Although I have reconnected with other siblings, I still have to deal with life on my own. They all have someone significant in their lives, and I have . . . me. I see friends sporadically, but mostly, I spend my time alone. It’s odd that I am now where I feared to be during those first years of grief after Jeff died. I used to be terrified of stagnating, of becoming the crazy cat lady sans cats, so I kept myself busy with forward-looking activities. After the seventh anniversary, that need for busyness evaporated. Luckily, as it turned out. Most of my grief group friends are now paired up, my walking friends have gone on to other activities, and my dance classes have diminished. (I stopped going to a couple of the classes because they had become a performance group rather than actual classes and caused me more frustration than joy. Most of my other classes, classes that I loved, were either cancelled or are hit and miss.) And my dream of an epic hike evaporated when I discovered the reality of my physical abilities. Or lack of abilities.

So here I am. Alone. But not stagnating. (At least, I don’t think I’m stagnating. But if I am, would I know?) I’ve been spending time with my new grief book, preparing for its send off into the world of agents. I’ve been trying to get back into walking shape — my frequent colds this year and the trips I’ve gone on (to Seattle and to my brother’s memorial) have taken their toll on me. And I’ve been trying to figure out where to go from here, not in a mystical way, but a practical way, trying to figure out where I want to be living when death begins swiping at me with its scythe.

Death. So not a friend of mine! (Though I might feel differently when I near my own end.) I don’t mean to sound morbid. There’s just been too many deaths in too short a time.

Although I should return from my accidental vacation and get back into the discipline of keeping up the blog, I truly don’t want to foist my sadness on others. I did enough of that when I was dealing with Jeff’s death, and there’s nothing new to say.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

I Need Help Proofing my New Grief Book!

If you would like to help proof my new grief book, to look for weaknesses and make sure everything I say is clearly written, all the chapters in the the most helpful chronology, and whatever else you can suggest to make this as strong a book as possible, please contact me at pat@bertramsblog.com or leave your name in a comment on this blog. I’m looking for both grievers and non-grievers who would be willing to give me honest feedback before I start querying agents.

Thank you!!

P.S If you know anyone famous who would be willing to write an introduction for the American version, please give them my name. Thanks.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Complicated Grief

I’ve been working on my book about grief, which is why you haven’t seen me here much. I’m spending most of my words on the book; most of my time, too, so I haven’t had anything much to talk about.

Until today.

In my research for the book, I keep stumbling upon a particularly odious phrase, “complicated grief.” We all know grief is complicated, straining, as it does, all our physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual resources beyond their limits. Complicating grief even more is its illogicalness, our inability to rationalize death, the unexpected and sudden triggers and upsurges of sorrow, having to find meaning and rebuild our lives after the death of person fundamental to our life, and a dozen other such complications.

But this is not what the professionals call “complicated grief.” To them, complicated grief is a medical condition that needs treatment. According to the Mayo clinic, signs and symptoms include:

  • Intense sorrow, pain and rumination over the loss of your loved one
  • Focus on little else but your loved one’s death
  • Extreme focus on reminders of the loved one or excessive avoidance of reminders
  • Intense and persistent longing or pining for the deceased
  • Problems accepting the death
  • Numbness or detachment
  • Bitterness about your loss
  • Feeling that life holds no meaning or purpose
  • Inability to enjoy life or think back on positive experiences with your loved one

Um, folks. This is called grief. Pure and simple.

The professionals say everyone grieves differently, but if your grief differs too much from other people’s grief, then you might have complicated grief disorder. I’ve been reading enough scholarly papers to know how they decide what is “normal.” They interview people. And if you’re one of the 7-15% whose grief falls outside the “norm,” then you have complicated grief disorder, no matter who died or how they died. (Apparently, in their studies, an aged parent who died quietly in bed should be grieved the same as a child who was murdered, and if it’s not, then the murdered child’s parent might have complicated grief disorder.)

They say grief takes as long as it takes, but if your grief takes longer than other people’s, then you might have CG. (Cute name, huh?)

According to one research paper I read, reactions such as having difficulty accepting the death, searching for and preoccupation with thoughts of the deceased, or being stunned by the death may well indicate complicated grief if they are present beyond the first few months after the loss. Thus, complicated grief involves the presentation of certain grief-related symptoms at a time beyond that which is considered adaptive. We hypothesize that the presence of these symptoms after approximately 6 months puts the bereaved individual at heightened risk for enduring social, psychological, and medical impairment.

Six months? Huh???? It takes at least a year just to get over the shock of it all!!!

The same study says: Complicated grief is the failure to return to preloss levels of performance or states of emotional wellbeing. Again, huh? Don’t they realize that once you have lost your life mate/soul mate, you can never return to preloss levels of anything. Everything changes, including us. Grief is a matter of becoming. Becoming the person who can survive the loss. Becoming the person who can live comfortably in a suddenly alien and hostile world. Becoming the person we need to be in order to find a new state of emotional wellbeing.

The professionals say if you have strong feelings of yearning for your deceased loved one, you might have complicated grief disorder, but studies have shown that yearning is the primary emotion of grief after the death of someone intrinsic to our lives.

They say that everyone’s loss is different, but they treat all losses as if they were the same. The Center for Complicated Grief at Columbia University says: Mental health training does not usually include learning about the syndrome of complicated grief. However, trainees often are taught that grief is complicated if there was an ambivalent relationship to the person who died. This is a misconception. Adapting to a loss is more difficult if a person can imagine how things could have been different. People might do this because the relationship was conflictual. However, this is uncommon. Most people with complicated grief have had an especially strong and rewarding relationship to the person who died.

So, let me get this straight. If we have had an especially strong and rewarding relationship with the person who died, as we do with a life mate/soul mate, the resulting profound grief is . . . wrong?

How the heck to do these people think? Don’t they read what they write? Do they truly have no idea that the loss of a distant cousin, for example, no matter how well loved, might . . . just might . . . be different from the loss of the person we intimately shared a life with?

Or maybe they are saying that the strong relationship is bad? Oh, right they do say that. They call it co-dependency. Cripes. What a world.

Apparently, they don’t understand that love is an interdependent relationship. They don’t understand how important love is and that the loss can be so devastating that you cannot get over it in a few months, and that such grief is not a disorder but an absolutely normal order. They don’t understand about the constant triggers that remind us that we’re alone. When you lose your one true love to death, all of a sudden you are supposed to be able to slough off your loss as if love didn’t matter, and go on with your life. Everyone else is celebrating their love, but you are supposed to accept that yours is over and you are supposed to have a good attitude so you inconvenience others as little as possible.

Because oh, yes, not only do we have our grief to contend with, we have the whole sociological horror to deal with: friends and family — and even mere acquaintances — who don’t understand what we’re going through trying to control our grief, sometimes with gentle (and not so gentle) reminders that we have to move on. People who are uncomfortable in our presence or who find our grief and inconvenient reminder of the fragility of life shunting us off to the side.  And of course, amateur and professional psychologists who try to define our grief as a disorder or a syndrome.

The grief — the normal grief — for a life mate can take years. We’re not necessarily actively mourning all that time; we often have long patches of peace. (According to the American Cancer Society, mourning is the outward expression of loss and is part of the grieving process. Grieving is the process of coming to terms with the loss. Researchers often get this backward, which complicates even further their already complicated papers on complicated grief.)

It takes a very long time to process death, to come to terms with our shattered couplehood, and to find a new way of living that can encompass the loss. In fact, I have found a distinct pattern to grief after the loss of life mate to whom we had a particularly strong attachment, and if the professionals had been reading this blog all these years, they’d see it too.

I do understand that some people get stuck in unhealthy thoughts and actions and so need help to get unstuck, but for most of us who have lost our life mate/soul mate, if we let grief do its work — no matter how hard it is or how long it takes, and no matter how abnormal it might appear to outsiders — we will get to where we need to be.

Maybe I should write a book about grief and tell the truth.

Oh . . . right. I am. Perhaps the professionals will even read it and learn something.

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Did You Experience Widow’s/Widower’s Fog

I’m working on my new book about grief. Currently I am looking for something different to say about widow’s fog. Although it’s supposed to be universal, I never really experienced this grief-induced amnesia, dazedness, and fogginess that people say shrouded them after the death of a spouse or life mate, mostly because the things I did to help make sense of my grief were the very things that get rid of widow’s fog. The fog basically comes from an overloaded prefrontal cortex. Most people, when faced with the enormity of grief, try to suppress the emotions and think their way out, and this overloads their brains even more. But I didn’t. I just let everything flow. I’d walk for hours in the desert, feeling my grief, letting my mind wander without trying to think about anything in particular, and apparently, this “not thinking” is the very thing that reduces the overload. Also, telling ourselves the truth about what we feel and labeling our emotions help us through the fog, and that is what I did on this blog. Just being in the moment helps, and I did that, too.

Consequently, I have nothing really to say on the matter and no way to describe how it feels, and such a common part of grief should be included in my book. Did you experience this fog? If so, would you mind telling me about it? You can either leave your answer here as a comment or email me at pat@bertramsblog.com. If you have a scientific bent and can lend me your expertise, that, too, would be appreciated.

Oddly, I’d never even heard of this fog until a couple of years ago when I did a dance performance for a widows and widowers group. So maybe it’s not as universal as it’s supposed to be? If you didn’t experience it, I’d like to know that, too.

While I’m at it — what did you do to comfort yourself and relieve the stress of grief? I have written that chapter several times, and it never comes out right. I mean, how many times can I say I cried, and screamed, and beat up defenseless sofas? That’s not enough to fill a chapter.

(For those of you who are interested in what I’ve been up to and why I haven’t been blogging, this book is the reason. Lots of thinking, researching, writing.)

***

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels UnfinishedMadame ZeeZee’s Nightmare, Light BringerMore Deaths Than OneA Spark of Heavenly Fireand Daughter Am IBertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.