Excerpt From “Grief: The Great Yearning” — Day 115

I never actually set out to write a book about grief, never planned to make any of my writing public (except for blog posts, of course), but I was so lost, so lonely, so sick with grief and bewildered by all I was experiencing, that the only way I could try to make sense of it all was to put my feelings into words. Whether I was writing letters to Jeff (my deceased life mate/soul mate) or simply pouring out my feelings in a journal, it helped me feel close to him, as if, once again, I was talking things over with him. The only problem was, I only heard my side of the story.  He never told me how he felt about his dying and our separation. Did he feel as broken as I did? Did he feel amputated? Or was he simply glad to be shucked of his body, and perhaps even of me?

It’s been more than three years now since the following piece was written. I still don’t understand the purpose of pain, loss, suffering. Still don’t understand the nature of life or death. Still don’t know how energy can have cognizance, if in fact, consciousness survives death. The main difference is that the wound where he was amputated from me has healed. I don’t worry about him — at least not much — but I still miss him and I probably always will.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 115, Dear Jeff,

Did you use the phrase okie-doke one night at the end when you were saying all those jaunty things like “adios, compadre”? You must have. Every time I see or hear the expression, I start crying. Good thing it’s not in common usage any more.

I am hurtling away from you at incredible speeds. Maybe I’ll come full circle and meet with you again when my end arrives? I wish I believed that, but it makes no sense. How do sparks of energy have cognizance, character, memory? How would we know each other? At least I would no longer have to deal with your absence since I’d be absent too.

You came into my life so rapidly. One day you weren’t there, and the next you were. You went out the same way. One day you were there, the next you weren’t.

Yesterday someone told me that life on earth was an illusion and so you still existed. But if life is an illusion, why couldn’t it be a happy figment? A joyful one? What’s the point of pain? Of loss? Of suffering?

You’ve been gone one-hundred and fifteen days, and I still can’t make sense of it.

Adios, compadre. I hope you, at least, are at peace.

Click here to find out more about Grief: The Great Yearning

***

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.

Excerpt From “Grief: The Great Yearning” — Day 112

I never actually set out to write a book about grief, never planned to make any of my writing public (except for the blog posts, of course), but I was so lost, so lonely, so sick with grief and bewildered by all I was experiencing, that the only way I could try to make sense of it all was to put my feelings into words. Whether I was writing letters to Jeff (my deceased life mate/soul mate) or simply pouring out my feelings in a journal, it helped me feel close to him, as if, once again, I was talking things over with him. The only problem was, I only heard my side of the story.  He never told me how he felt about his dying and our separation. Did he feel as broken as I did? Did he feel amputated? Or was he simply glad to be shucked of his body, and perhaps even of me?

It’s been three years now since the following piece was written. The wound where he was amputated from me has healed. I don’t worry about him — at least not much — but I still miss him, still feel as if I’m waiting for my life to begin. And though I don’t feel as scattered,  I understand more than ever that wherever I am, there I am.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 112, Grief Journal

I’m going through a numb phase right now. I only cried briefly yesterday. That came after I finished watching the Paul Hogan/Michael Caton movie Jeff taped—Strange Bedfellows—and I realized I’d never watch movies with him again.

Cry, not cry. Feel, not feel. It’s all the same. Just different aspects of grief. One thing they’re right about. This is WORK! I’m tired, have little energy, don’t seem to be able to think or to do anything but the most basic chores. And I can’t make myself believe anything is important. I’m still waiting to get a grip on my grief. Still feeling as if I’m in a transitional stage, waiting for my life to start.

Except that I had a life. We had a life.

People talk about “healing” when it comes to surviving a death, and it’s as good a term as any. It does seem as if the wound where Jeff was amputated from me is still bloody and gaping, though it is “healing” somewhat. It’s not as constantly raw as it was at first.

I always felt scattered when we were apart, worried about something happening to one of us when the other wasn’t there. Well, something did happen. And I was there. Now it’s just me. Wherever I am, there I am, but I still feel scattered. Fragmented. As if parts of me are strewn all over the universe. There’s no reason to worry about him, but I still do.

Click here to find out more about Grief: The Great Yearning

***

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.

Excerpt From “Grief: The Great Yearning” — Day 23

So many people have told me lately that I should write a book about grief, that I realized somehow I’m not getting the point across — I did write a book about grief, and it’s been published now for over a year.

I never actually set out to write a book about grief, never planned to make any of my writing public (except for the blog posts, of course), but I was so lost, so lonely, so sick with grief and bewildered by all I was experiencing, that the only way I could try to make sense of it all was to put my feelings into words. Whether I was writing letters to Jeff (my deceased life mate/soul mate) or simply pouring out my feelings in a journal, it helped me feel close to him, as if, once again, I was talking things over with him. The only problem was, I only heard my side of the story.  He never told me how he felt about his dying and our separation. Did he feel as broken as I did? Did he feel amputated? Or was he simply glad to be shucked of his body, and perhaps even of me?

It’s been three years now since the following piece was written, and though I don’t have the physical trauma and emotional agony, I’m still lost, still miss him, still pinning my life mostly on “perhaps.” How did I get through three years of such great yearning? I honestly don’t know other than by taking life one step at a time.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 23, Grief Journal

I was lonely last year with Jeff spending so much time in bed, but now I am so lonely I feel bleak. And bereft. There seems to be little reason to live. No, I am not suicidal, but if I were to die today, I would not care.

I feel as if I am disappearing, fading from life, and all that is left is pain. How anyone gets through this, I do not know. And for what? Life didn’t seem foolish when Jeff was alive. I always knew we were meant for each other, but I never realized that he was my tie to life, to wanting to live. Finding that desire in myself right now is next to impossible. All I see are tenuous hopes and promises of pain. It’s not enough. Not nearly enough.

Do I need someone in order for my life to have meaning? Sounds weak. But isn’t love a major component of life? I know people survive quite nicely on their own, managing to find purpose, but I am so lost. So unhappy.

Perhaps the future holds something good for me, but that is such a silly word to pin my life on, yet that’s all I have—“perhaps”. Jeff no longer even has that. I’m trying to find comfort in knowing he is no longer suffering, and for a moment yesterday I even envied him. I wish my pain were over, too.

I’ve developed a terrible fear of dying. I could not handle dying the way Jeff did. It took him so long—years of getting sicker and weaker. Years of pain. I’m truly glad he isn’t suffering any more; I just wish he never had to suffer at all. Wish he were here, happy and healthy.

So many foolish wishes. Nothing I can say or do will change anything. The past is done. Finished. It scares me that I have no clear image of him in my mind, but my mind has never been a pictorial one—it’s more about feelings and impressions.

I miss him. Miss his fleeting sweet smiles. He had so little to smile about, yet he did smile at me. Did I return his smiles? I hope so. I loved him. Even when I could barely tolerate him (and there were such moments), I still loved him.

Click here to find out more about Grief: The Great Yearning

***

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+

A Day for the Broken-Hearted

February 14th. A day to celebrate love with flowers, chocolate, romance. Sounds wonderful if you have someone to love, or even the hope of finding your true love, but if you are one of the many bereft whose beloved has died, the day brings not romance but tears. You remember that once you were loved, that once you loved. Of course, you still do love — love doesn’t die — but loving the eternal essence of someone who is dead is not exactly the same thing as loving someone who is present in body and mind and heart and voice.

We bereft are no longer whole-hearted. Our poor hearts still beat the same, but not with the same intensity they once did. Where once joy (or at least contentment) coursed through our veins, sorrow now flows. Sorrow doesn’t always flow, of course. We do heal . . . sort of. We piece our hearts together the best we can and go on living. But then comes Valentine’s Day, reminding us once again that we are broken-hearted.

My life mate/soul mate and I did nothing on Valentine’s Day. For us, it was just another meaningless day given significance only because we were together. Most of my fellow bereft are dreading tomorrow, knowing it will bring an upsurge in grief. They are planning lunches with friends and special outings to keep from thinking of what they have lost. I too am planning to go to lunch with friends, and this very effort underlines my problem. I can find people to do things with, but I no longer have someone to do nothing with.

My mate and I did nothing on Valentine’s Day, but we did it together. And now tomorrow I will have one more irreplaceable thing to mourn — nothing.

I Am a Six-Month Grief Survivor

Six months ago my life mate — my soul mate — died of kidney cancer, and my life changed forever. I survived the first excruciating weeks, and now I am learning to live with his absence and finding ways of going on by myself, but it’s lonely. So few people know how to act around the bereft, and they end up offering us maxims that bring no comfort because the adages are simply not true.

People tell us that time heals. Time does not heal. We heal. Grief helps us heal. Time does nothing. Time doesn’t even pass — we pass through time like persons passing through an endless desert.

People tell us that we’ll get over our loss, but when you have suffered a soul-quaking loss, you never totally get over it. Nor do you want to. Getting over it seems like a betrayal, a negation of the life you shared. The best you can do is eventually accept the person’s absence as a part of your life.

People tell us to on with life. They don’t understand that this is our life. Grief is how we get on with it.

Grief is not the problem. The problem is that our loved one died. Grief is the way we deal with that loss, the way we process it, the way we heal the wound of amputation. By experiencing the pain, by allowing ourselves to feel the loss, we honor our loved one and our relationship, and gradually we move through the pain to . . . to what? I’m not sure what lies on the other side of grief. I’ve passed the worst of the pain but not yet arrived at a new way of living.

During these past six months, I’ve been inundated with information about how to deal with grief. I purposely refrained from reading the material, which is strange for me — I’ve always been one who researches everything — but I didn’t want to know the accepted way to grieve. I wanted to experience my own grief without the current fad getting in the way. It used to be that grief was a regimented experience — one wore black and mourned for a year. More recently, the “stages of grief’ became the accepted way of grieving, though now there are various new ways of thinking about grief. The truth is, grief is personal, and except for the extremes of not allowing oneself to feel anything and trying to find ways of dying so you can join your loved one, however you grieve, that is the right way to grieve.

Grief makes even friends and family uncomfortable, so eventually the bereft learn to hide what they feel. They stop talking about their loved one, but they never forget.

I will never forget.

He will always live in my memory.