Grief: New Year’s Day and Beyond

eternityThis past New Year’s Day was the third one I have lived through since the death of my life mate/soul mate. That first New Year’s Day was one of relief. I’d managed to live through the worst year of my life, and I greeted the day with acceptance and looking toward the future, building hopes and creating dreams.

The second New Year’s Day was a day of dread. The last week of that year was one of waiting. No grief, no strong emotion. Just . . . waiting. But with the dawning of the new calendar year came the dread. I still don’t know why (to be honest, I’ve never totally understood the whys and ways of grief), though perhaps the dread came from an awareness of moving further away from our shared life. I could no longer say, “Last year, we . . .” “Last year, he . . .” There was just me, balanced precariously on the precipice of a life alone.

This third New Year’s Day inexplicably began with tears. Grief had been leaving me alone, and I hadn’t had a strong upsurge for a long time — I thought I was through with grief, to be honest — but when the calendar rolled over from 2012 to 2013, grief came calling once again. And once again, I do not know why.

A new calendar year has never meant much to me — it’s such an arbitrary date, beginning at staggered times around the world, and even celebrated on different dates in various countries and religions. Now that I am alone, however, I try to make a ritual of such things, to note the passing of the days. I need to know that I am still here and I am still alive. And despite the arbitrariness of the date, apparently something in me senses a change from one year to the next and reacts to it.

People tell me that it takes three to five years to find joy in life again, or at least to find a new beginning, and three months into this year will be my third anniversary of grief. It feels like a milestone, though I can’t even begin to guess what it will mean to me besides one more year further away from “us” and one more year closer to . . . I don’t know what.

But I can’t think of that now. If I’ve learned anything during these past two years and nine months, it’s the importance of taking life one step at a time. I’ve already taken three steps into this new calendar year. Tomorrow will be another step. Beyond that, the future will just have to take care of itself.

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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+