If You Are Sick Of Hearing About My Loss . . .

Someone left a comment a couple of days ago saying she is tired of hearing about my loss and so is cancelling her subscription to this blog. To be honest, I don’t really blame her. I never expected the death of one man (my life mate/soul mate) to have such an impact on my life that I could feel the ripples of his absence three and a half years later. I certainly never expected to still be mentioning my loss after all this time (it seems a bit pathetic), but I can’t ignore the single most significant event of the past few years of my life. Everything I am, everything I will be stems from that loss.

Death is such an inhuman and inexplicable event that our brains scurry around trying to solve the enigma of a presence that has become an absence. Some people are lucky enough to believe in a benevolent God and a beatific afterlife. Others of us strive to find meaning, and if we don’t succeed in finding it, we have to create meaning.

For now, this bSierra Club conditioning walklog is my meaning. Or rather, the means to my meaning. I was so stunned at all I felt after his death, so shocked at how little I understood such profound grief despite having lost a brother and my mother that I used this blog as a way of helping other bereft find their way through the labyrinth of pain. I wanted to let them know they are not crazy if they continue to feel grief long after their family and friends (and blog readers) have become tired of their sorrow. The truth is, we too get tired of our loss, but we have no choice but to continue our struggle to live.

And it is a struggle. I realized long ago that the only way I could make sense of his death is to do things that we wouldn’t have done together, or to do things that I wouldn’t/couldn’t have done while he lived. Even though I am no longer actively grieving and in fact am quite happy at times (I seldom cry any more, and if I do, it’s only for a moment or two), I still honor my loss with all that I am doing. I continue to blog about grief, take night walks with the local Sierra Club, travel a bit, write, amble in the snake-infested desert, and do things I am not necessarily comfortable doing.

Although it might seem as if I am still bemoaning my loss by continuing to mention his death, the truth is, I am not embracing loss. I am embracing life — my life. I’m still not convinced life is a gift — there is way too much pain in the world — but my loss is the means of my future gain. I will not waste the freedom his death brought to me. I will not waste the courage he bequeathed me. I will not waste what is left of my life, even though I have to continue alone.

It seems to me that my struggle to create a meaningful life is worth writing about. So, if you are sick of hearing about my loss, feel free to unfollow me, but I am going to continue to blog about my life, and my life includes his death.

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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.

Building Hopes and Creating Dreams

And so ends the worst year of my life.

Last year was a time of soul-shattering loss, grief, and strange blessings. It was a time of despair and self-realization, transition and adjustment. But of course, you know all that — I’ve made no secret of my ordeal, chronicling every painful stage of my journey. Many people endure worse traumas than the death of a soul mate, and they continue living without whimpering, which has made me feel a bit self-indulgent and whiny with my grief bloggeries, yet that was never my intention. The impact of grief after a major loss seems to be one more thing that has been discounted in our discount culture, and I simply wanted to tell the truth.

Oddly, I still don’t know the truth of it. It seems unreal at times. Was I really that woman? That woman who watched a man slowly die, who wanted the suffering to end, yet whose love was so ineffectual she couldn’t make him well or take away a single moment of his pain? That woman so connected to another human being she still feels broken nine months after his death? That woman who screamed the pain of her loss to the winds?

I’ve always considered myself a passionless woman, so how can that woman be me? During periods when I don’t feel the weight of his absence (I never feel his presence, though sometimes his absence feels normal, as if he’s simply in another room), during periods of emotional calm, my stoic side rules, making my grief feel fake, as if it’s something I’m doing to make myself seem important. Yet other times the desperate need to go home to him, to see him one more time, claws at me, tearing me apart.

Making the situation even more unreal, I can barely remember what he looked like — I do not think in images, so it’s understandable (though distressing) that I have no clear image of him in my mind. Even worse, I don’t have a photo that matches what I remember of him. (The only one I have was taken fifteen years ago.)

Nor do I have a clear sense of time. Sometimes it feels as if he died just a couple of months ago. Sometimes it feels like years. The demarcation between our shared life and my solitary life was once so stark it was like the edge of a cliff. All I could see was the past and what I had lost. The living I have done in the past nine months has blurred that edge, adding to the sense of unreality.

I have learned much this year. I learned the importance of importance. If there is nothing of importance in your life, you have to find something and make it important. I learned the importance of goals, even if it’s only the goal of getting through one more day. I learned the importance of hope, though hope for what I still don’t know, but that is part of the journey – building hopes, creating dreams, finding reasons to live.

And so begins a new year.