Saturday, My Sadder Day

Another sad Saturday — 83 of them since my life mate died. Even when I don’t remember that it’s Saturday, or that Saturday is the day of the week he died, my body remembers, and my usual muted feeling of sadness becomes more pervasive. It’s not that I want to be sad; the sorrow just comes, especially when the weather is as perfect as today’s — warm, still, clear sky, bright sun, gently cooling breeze. I’d worry more about my continuing sadness except that I tend to be of a melancholic bent. And the sadness does reminds me to pay attention. Since he can no longer make note of a lovely day, it’s as if I need to appreciate it twice — once for me and once for him.

If Saturday is a sadder day than normal, that must be a sign that I am doing okay most of the time (otherwise I wouldn’t feel sadder; I’d just feel sad). The world still feels flawed, I still feel the phantom itch from where he was amputated from my life, and I still yearn to talk with him. Part of me (perhaps that fabled inner child?) cannot understand why I can’t call him to find out how he is doing, to see if he needs anything, to ask if I can come home. This yearning flares up every Saturday, as if he’s closer on this day, and it seems as if I should be able to reach out and touch him. But he’s gone, out of reach of even my sadness.

Oddly, in many respects, my life is much better now, at least temporarily, than it was at the end of “our” life. I don’t have to worry about him any more (though the habit of a lifetime is hard to break, so I wonder if he is feeling as lost and as alone as I sometimes feel). I have a lovely place to stay with proximity to wild spaces. I have a respite from bills and other such annoyances. I have time to indulge myself with small excursions and escapes.

But my heart doesn’t care for such things. It wants what it cannot have, especially on Saturday, my sadderday.

Grief: The Great Yearning

Now that my grief for my lost soul mate is evolving away from a focus on all I’ve lost and the accompanying pain, I can see the process more clearly. Perhaps for some people the stages of grief — denial, guilt, anger, depression, acceptance — hold true, but for me and for most of the bereft I have met on this journey, those stages have little meaning. For most of us, anger and even guilt are more like quickly passing moods than lingering phases. Some of us get depressed, but most of us don’t. We’re just get damn sad, which is not the same thing as depression. I’ve been in that dark pit and I know what it’s like. This sorrow, no matter how intense, is not depression. And acceptance is not the end — in itself acceptance brings no peace. What does bring peace is feeling the grief and letting it evolve into something we can live with because the loss — the yearning — will always be a part of us. Getting to that point can take years, depending on the depth of the relationship.

Grief is an incredibly complex state that constantly changes and constantly brings changes. The underlying emotion of grief is yearning, not guilt or anger. Even after we’ve put our shattered psyches back together as best as we can, even after we’ve come to an acceptance of our new situation, the yearning to see our loved one last time can be overwhelmingly painful at times. The yearning (such a mild word for the ache or craving or hunger that tears at us) is often manageable, other times it shoots through us like a geyser bursting out of calm waters. Even decades after losing a spouse, or so I’ve been told, we bereft still feel the loss, still yearn for our mates.

A friend who lost her life mate four months after I lost mine, told me how much she hates people telling her to “move on”. She’s not like me, spouting her pain into cyberspace for all to see. If you didn’t know she’d experienced such a soul-shattering loss, you’d never be able to guess it — she’s keeping her grief to herself lest it burden others. She’s taking care of her family. She’s accepting the responsibility for an aging parent. She made the holidays special for those around her. She’s writing. She’s even going out and having fun, or at least as much as is possible considering her situation. In fact, she’s doing all that she ever did, and doing it well. Yet people tell her to move on with her life. What else is there to move on to? Her grief in no way debilitates her. It’s simply a part of her life, this ache to see her mate one more time.

Searching is another major component of grief that is ignored in the “stages” concept. We bereft search for our mates in crowds. We cry out for them, especially at the beginning. We search for them in our dreams. Of course we know we won’t find them. This isn’t a mental aberration, and it certainly isn’t denial. It’s simply a way of coping with the unthinkable. How can our loved ones be gone so completely? It’s the goneness that confuses us, pains us. It destroys everything we always accepted about the world. (Of course we knew all lives end in death, but we didn’t KNOW it.) As the search for our lost one diminishes, we begin searching for ourselves, for our place in this new, unthinkable world.

It would be so much easier to deal with grief if we had a list of stages to go through and to check off as we experience them, but that simply isn’t the case.

So we yearn, and we search, and we go on living.