Excerpt From “Grief: The Great Yearning”

GTGYwpDuring the first horrendous months after the death of my life mate/soul mate/best friend, I was so incredibly lost that sometimes the only way I could deal with my confusion was to write a letter to him in an effort to feel connected. I’ve come a long way in the four years since I wrote the following letter. I still don’t understand the nature of life or death. Still don’t understand the point of it all, but I am embracing life, trying to create my own meaning out of small occurrences. I’ve learned to live without him, but I still miss him, and sometimes I still wish I were going home to him when my current responsibilities end.

 I’m grateful we met and had so many years together. Grateful I once had someone to love. Grateful that when my time comes to die, he won’t be here to see me suffer. Grateful he won’t have to grieve for me.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning:

Day 197, Dear Jeff,

It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I’ve been thinking about you. Are you glad you’re dead? You said you were ready to die, to be done with your suffering, yet at the very end you seemed reluctant to go.

Despite all the problems with your restlessness and the disorientation from the drugs, I wasn’t ready for you to leave me. I still am not. Nor do I want to go back to where we were that last year, waiting for you to die. We were both so miserable, but honestly, this is even worse. I can live without you. The problem is, I don’t want to, and I don’t see why I have to.

I want to come home. Please, can I come home? I have a good place to stay, but without you, I feel homeless. Sometimes I watch movies from your collection and imagine you’re watching with me, but that makes me cry because I know you’re not here. Your ashes are, but you’re not.

I broke a cup today, one more thing gone out of the life we shared. Our stuff is going to break, wear out, get used up. I’ll replace some of it, add new things, write new books, and it will dilute what we shared. Is there going to be anything left of “us”? I feel uncomfortable in this new skin, this new life, as if it’s not mine. As if I’m wearing clothes too big and too small all at the same time.

There’s so much I hate about your being gone — hate it for me and hate it for you. It might be easier if I knew you were glad to be dead, but so far you’ve been mum about your situation. Just one more thing to hate — the silence of the grave. (Well, the silence of the funerary urn.)

Adios, compadre. If you get a chance, let me know you’re okay.

***

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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 359

GTGYthmbI’ve come a long way in the three years since I wrote the following journal entry.  I still don’t understand the point of it all, but the questions don’t haunt me quite as much as they did during the first years after Jeff’s death.  I’m learning to live without him, learning even to want to live without him. Sometimes I see his death as freeing us — me — from the horrors of his dying, and I don’t want to waste the sacrifice he made.

I no longer feel as if I am squandering time when I am doing trivial things because I have come to realize there are no trivialities. Everything we do is living, taking part in the great panoply of life. Whatever we do adds to the Eternal Everything.

I still yearn to talk to Jeff, of course. I miss talking to him, miss his insights, miss the conversation that began the day we met and continued for decades until he got too sick to hold up his end of the dialogue. I was truly blessed. He never misunderstood what I said. I could make a simple comment to him, and he understood it was a simple comment. He didn’t make a big issue out of it, just answered back appropriately. It seems now every remark I make to anyone becomes a major deal as I try to explain over and over again what I meant by the first remark. It’s exhausting.

I’m  grateful we met and had so many years together. Grateful for all the words we spoke to each other. Grateful I once had someone to love. Grateful that when my time comes to die, he won’t be here to see me suffer. Grateful he won’t have to grieve for me or be tormented by unaswerable questions.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 359, Dear Jeff,

I never felt as if I were wasting time no matter what you and I did—even something trivial like playing a game or watching a movie — so why do I feel I’m wasting time if I do those things alone? Don’t I have just as much worth now that I’m alone as I did when I was with you?

When I was out walking in the desert yesterday, I talked to you. You didn’t answer, of course, or if you did, I didn’t hear. We talked about meaninglessness. If you still exist somewhere, if you still have being, if life doesn’t end with death, then life has an inherent meaning — whatever I do or think or feel, no matter how trivial, has meaning because it adds to the Eternal Everything. If death brings nothing but oblivion, then there is no intrinsic meaning to life. So a search for meaning is meaningless (except on a practical level. We all need to feel we are doing something meaningful so we can get through our days and even thrive). Life either has meaning or it doesn’t. Meaning isn’t something to find but to be. So, I’m going to search for meaninglessness, or at least accept it.

Such thoughts seem as meaningless and as trivial as the rest of life. They get me knowhere. (I’m leaving that error, because . . . wow! So perfect!)

I’ve been watching your Boston Legal tapes again. Nicely meaningless since they put me to sleep. But they make me feel connected to you because we watched them a year ago during your last days at home.

This first year of your being dead is coming to an end, and I still don’t know how to survive the pain of your being gone, but I am surviving. Not thriving, not yet, but I will. There’s still so much to work through — all those years of your being ill, our unhappiness, our shattered dreams. Despite all the bad, we did have a good life, a fulfilling one. We journeyed together as long as we could, now it’s up to me to continue our journey alone. Will it continue to be “our” journey or will it become mine alone? I know who I was when I was with you. Now I need to find out who I am without you. To find worth in being alone.

Adios, compadre. I love you.

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 288

GTGYthmbI’ve come a long way in the three years since I wrote the following journal entry.  Saturdays have ceased to be difficult, though I still don’t understand the nature of life or death. Still don’t understand the point of it all, but the questions don’t haunt me quite as much as they did during the first years after the death of my life mate/soul mate.  I’m learning to live without him, learning even to want to live without him. Sometimes I see his death as freeing us — me — from the horrors of his dying, and I don’t want to waste the sacrifice he made.

I still yearn to talk to him, though. I miss talking to him, miss his insights, miss the neverending conversation. (“Neverending” is a misnomer — the conversation that began the day we met and continued for decades until he got too sick to hold up his end of the dialogue, did eventually end.) He was easy to talk to. He never misunderstood what I said. I could make a simple comment to him, and he understood it was a simple comment. He didn’t make a big issue out of it, just answered back appropriately. It seems now every remark I make to anyone becomes a major deal as I try to explain over and over again what I meant by the first remark. It’s exhausting.

I’m  grateful we met and had so many years together. Grateful for all the words we spoke to each other. Grateful I once had someone to love. Grateful that when my time comes to die, he won’t be here to see me suffer. Grateful he won’t have to grieve for me or be tormented by unaswerable questions.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 288, Grief Journal

Saturday, again. I stayed in bed all morning reading because I did not want to get up and face another Saturday. Friday nights and Saturdays continue to be difficult. I watched movies last night until my private witching hour of 1:40am.

The longer Jeff is gone, the more I see what I’ve lost. When we were together, everything was normal, so I couldn’t see how extraordinary our lives were. We created all our own recipes and fixed all our own meals, built our own business, spent years researching the mysteries of the world. And we had such wonderful marathon talks that lasted for days. We didn’t try to convince the other of our position—we each brought truth and thought to the conversation, and together we created a greater reality. There was no reason to argue—it was never about his opinion versus mine. It was about the truth—the truth as far as we could reconstruct it together.

A woman who lost her mate four months after I lost Jeff asked me the other day if I loved Jeff more now than when he was alive, and in a way I do. The problems of his growing ill health got in the way the last few years, clouding my vision of him. Now that those problems and my reaction to them are no longer a factor, I can see the truth of him again (or at least more of the truth than I did) and the love shines through.

Grief comes and goes, but love stays. And grows.

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 214

GTGYthmbI’ve come a long way in the three years since I wrote the following journal entry.  I still don’t understand the nature of life or death. Still don’t understand the point of it all, but the questions don’t haunt me quite as much as they did during the first years after the death of my life mate/soul mate.  I’m learning to live without him, learning even to want to live without him. Sometimes I see his death as freeing us — me — from the horrors of his dying, and I don’t want to waste the sacrifice he made.

I still yearn to talk to him, though. I miss talking to him, miss his insights, miss the neverending conversation. (“Neverending” is a misnomer — the conversation that began the day we met and continued for decades until he got too sick to hold up his end of the dialogue, did eventually end.) He was easy to talk to. He never misunderstood what I said. I could make a simple comment to him, and he understood it was a simple comment. He didn’t make a big issue out of it, just answered back appropriately. It seems now every remark I make to anyone becomes a major deal as I try to explain over and over again what I meant by the first remark. It’s exhausting.

I’m  grateful we met and had so many years together. Grateful for all the words we spoke to each other. Grateful I once had someone to love. Grateful that when my time comes to die, he won’t be here to see me suffer. Grateful he won’t have to grieve for me or be tormented by unaswerable questions.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 214, Grief Journal

Life/death has me very confused. I still don’t see that a person lives after they are dead. What survives, if anything? The part of us we never knew—the un-sub-conscious? If so, how would we know who we were after we were dead? Is it just the energy in our bodies that is released? If so, for sure we would not know who we were.

On the other hand, without some sort of afterlife, life simply does not make sense. What’s the point of it all? To survive? For what—more survival until there is no more survival? To help others? Why? So they can survive? For what?

If there is life after death, what do you do with eternity? You have no ears to hear music, no eyes to read or watch a movie, no legs to walk, no hands to caress another, no mouth to talk, no brain to think. Sounds like a horror movie to me. And what will we do if Jeff and I meet again? Bask in each other’s light? That would get boring after a minute or two.

I guess it doesn’t really matter. Whether life ends or continues after death, this is where I am now. So what do I want from the rest of my life? I don’t know. I’ve never really wanted much. I never even wanted happiness—I thought other things were more important, such as truth. But now? I truly do not know what I want, except that which I cannot have. I yearn desperately to talk to Jeff—not about anything in particular, just to talk. It’s like a voice hunger, or a word hunger. A dozen times a day I think of something I want to say to him, to ask him, to marvel at. Sometimes I just want the feeling of connection. I still yearn to put my arms around him and protect him from what will happen, but it’s already happened, and anyway, my touch never had the power to heal.

I know I’m strong enough to handle this—after all, I am handling it—but I DON’T WANT TO!!

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

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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 197

I’ve come a long way in the three years since I wrote the following letter.  I still don’t understand the nature of life or death. Still don’t understand the point of it all, but I am embracing life, trying to create my own meaning out of small occurrences.  I’m learning to live without him, learning even to want to live without him. Sometimes I see his death as freeing us — me — from the horrors of his dying, and I don’t want to waste the sacrifice he made.

I still wish I could go home to him when my current responsibilities come to an end, but even that desire is waning. It took me a long time to feel the truth — that he is gone from this earth, and I am here. I still miss him, and I probably always will, but I’m learning to be comfortable in my own skin again. When one of “our” things disappears from my life through attrition, it no longer pains me — they are merely things, not “us”.

I’m  grateful we met and had so many years together. Grateful I once had someone to love. Grateful that when my time comes to die, he won’t be here to see me suffer. Grateful he won’t have to grieve for me.

Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning

Day 197, Dear Jeff,

It’s been a while since I’ve written, but I’ve been thinking about you. Are you glad you’re dead? You said you were ready to die, to be done with your suffering, yet at the very end you seemed reluctant to go.

I didn’t want to throw you away. Despite all the problems with your restlessness and the disorientation from the drugs, I wasn’t ready for you to leave me. I still am not. Nor do I want to go back to where we were that last year, waiting for you to die. We were both so miserable, but honestly, this is even worse. I can live without you. The problem is, I don’t want to, and I don’t see why I have to.

I want to come home. Please, can I come home? I have a good place to stay, but without you, I feel homeless. Sometimes I watch movies from your collection and imagine you’re watching with me, but that makes me cry because I know you’re not here. Your ashes are, but you’re not.

I broke a cup today, one more thing gone out of the life we shared. Our stuff is going to break, wear out, get used up. I’ll replace some of it, add new things, write new books, and it will dilute what we shared. Is there going to be anything left of “us”? I feel uncomfortable in this new skin, this new life, as if it’s not mine. As if I’m wearing clothes too big and too small all at the same time.

There’s so much I hate about your being gone—hate it for me and hate it for you. It might be easier if I knew you were glad to be dead, but so far you’ve been mum about your situation. Just one more thing to hate—the silence of the grave. (Well, the silence of the funerary urn.)

Adios, compadre. If you get a chance, let me know you’re okay.

***
Click here to find Grief: The Great Yearning in print or on Kindle from Amazon.


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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.