Hurrying Through Grief To See What is On the Other Side

During the first months of wild grief after the death of my life mate, I occasionally had the feeling that something wonderful was going to happen to me. I don’t know why I had that feeling — perhaps my sense of fairness dictated that a great good was needed to balance a great grief. Or perhaps such a cataclysmic closing of one segment of my life demanded an earthshaking opening of another segment. Or perhaps after years of waiting for his suffering to be over, I felt deep down that it was time for me to live.

I wasn’t the only one who thought his death might bring good changes to my life. Shortly before he died, he himself told me that everything would come together for me after he was gone. (He never explained what he meant, though, and foolishly, I never asked.) And afterward, my sister, who witnessed my grief and saw it as life affirming, told me that I could be entering the happiest time of my life.

Whatever the truth of it, I held on to the feeling because . . . well, because it was all I had to hold on to. In fact, the feeling was so strong at times that I wanted to hurry through my grief to see what was waiting for me on the other side. But here it is, nineteen months of grief later, and whatever that wonderful thing I expected to happen, didn’t.

Part of me is still waiting (just as an ever-diminishing part of me still waits for his phone call to tell me I can come home), but mostly, the feeling that something wonderful was going to happen to me is gone. Oddly, this is not an uncommon feeling for us bereft, and those who had the feeling of expectation also felt let down when nothing wonderful happened, which leads me to believe that the feeling is a survival mechanism, or perhaps another one of the many stages of grief nobody ever talks about. (Those who did have something wonderful happen in their lives weren’t able to feel the wonder of it, which left them feeling empty, and that is almost as bad as having nothing wonderful happen.)

Yesterday at the grocery store, I saw one of the hospice social workers who occasionally moderated the grief group I used to attend, and I thanked her for helping me through such a terrible time. During our conversation, I mentioned the odd feeling of anticipation I’d had during my months of grief. She replied, “Something wonderful did happen to you. You got through it.”

Is that wonderful enough to account for all those months of expectation? Maybe is has to be.