Three Years, Three Months, Three Weeks, and Three Days of Grief

It’s been three years, three months, three weeks, and three days since the death of my life mate/soul mate. With all those threes, this should be a mystical day, but it’s a day like any other. I’m not especially grieving, though I’m not ungrieving, either. It’s just me and my normal underlying sadness, my missing him, my wondering about the future.

I’m to the point where I need something more, something beyond the bleakness of my daily life, but that “something more” comes in small doses and is not enough to sustain me. I take quick trips, go out to lunch occasionally, write a little, go walking in the desert. Although my 96-year-old father is doing well and is still quite independent, I am on a short leash (or at least it feels that way) since he likes having someone around in case of emergency.

But, that is just an excuse. The truth is, I don’t know what to do and wouldn’t know what to do even if I weren’t here looking Low tideafter my father. I’d travel, of course, but it seems to me that taking an extended trip by myself would be terribly lonely and perhaps even feel pointless. I drove by the ocean the other day and couldn’t think of a single reason to stop. I’ve been to the ocean, so it wasn’t anything new. Just a lot of water. (In my defense, it was very late and I was very tired.)

I try to be upbeat, try to believe in endless possibilities (because of course, that is the nature of the universe), but I don’t yet see those possibilities in my daily life. I try to think differently, to feel differently, to open myself up to change, but I’m always just me. Alone. Waiting.

Maybe things will be different when I’m totally alone, when I am free of responsibilities, but I no longer know if that will make a difference. I feel self-indulgent at times even mentioning any of this, considering what terrible lives some people are forced to live, but I can’t live any life but my own. And my own feels empty.

If it sounds as if I’m feeling sorry for myself, there’s perfectly good explanation for that. Today I do feel sorry for myself. I have managed to get through three years, three months, three weeks, and three days since his death, and I will continue managing, but I wish I wanted something, was in love with something, felt something besides ever-fading sorrow.

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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.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

A New Permutation Of Grief?

The months keep passing. Thirty-seven of them have come and gone since the death of my life mate/soul mate.

I never imagined I would continue to be so affected by his absence after all this time. And back at the beginning of this bereft life, I never imagined I would survive to this point. The pain and shock of new grief was so vast that it took my breath away. (Grammar Check has underlined that phrase “took my breath away” as being trite. They want me to change it to “astounded me.” Yes, the pain astounded me, but the truth is, it literally took my breath away. I remember gasping for air, unable to suck enough oxygen into my lungs to make them inflate.)

Even now, all these months later, the thought that he is dead still has the power to steal my breath.

I am doing as well as anyone who has lost the one person who connected them to the world, and perhaps a bit better — or worse — than some in my “grief age group.” (Though this is not a contest. We have all lost, and we keep on losing every day they are Low tidegone.) I can get through the days, sometimes quite peacefully. I am lonely, of course, and even more than that, I am lonesome for him, but still, I do okay. I keep busy, both online and off, and I am getting used to his absence. Sort of.

But . . . when I remember the reason that he is absent — that he is dead, gone from this earth, forever beyond the reach of my arms — I again forget how to breathe. I gasp for air that somehow doesn’t make it beyond the tears that are blocking my throat.

Tears always seem to be pooling deep inside, even when I am at my most content, and they spill over at the least provocation. I find myself crying at losses (my own and other people’s, especially if they have lost a soul mate). I cry at changes, including change of season. (I’m not crying because the seasons changed, of course, but seasonal changes create corresponding hormonal changes in the body, and those changes bring on the tears.)

And I cry at movies. I’ve been going through my mate’s movie collection, and it’s rare for me to get through an entire movie without tears. I cry when a character leaves, because it reminds me that he left. I cry when a character returns because it reminds me that he never will come back. I cry at the moments we used to turn to each other and smile in shared enjoyment. The last time I watched these movies, I watched them with him, and sometimes I weep when the movie is over, no matter what the ending, because never again will I watch it with him.

This oversensitivity and tears might be a new permutation of grief (others who have lost their mates around the same time I did are also dealing with this same tendency to weepiness). Or it could be that my grief has changed me in some fundamental way, and now tears are a way of life.

Whatever the reason, this hypersensitivity is just something else to deal with as the months — and years — of this grief journey slip by.

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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.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Three Years of Grief

Today is, unexpectedly, a day like any other. So far, on this, the third anniversary of the death of my life mate/soul mate, I’ve experienced no great upsurges of grief, just that perpetual thread of sadness that bastes my life together.

During those first months of grief, my focus was completely on him, on his absence, on the horrendous feeling of goneness that his death left me with. It was as if by thinking of him, by holding him close in my thoughts, by reliving the horror of his final weeks, that somehow I could undo what had happened to him. But the years have taught me what logic didn’t — that he is gone and nothing I do or think or say or hope or pray will bring him back.

During his last days, he became childlike in his needs and actions (as if the combination of the cancer that spread to his brain and the drugs that kept the pain at bay killed the man, leaving only the inner child behind), which confused the issue in my mind. For a long time after his death, I panicked, wondering how he could take care of himself, wishing I could be there to calm his fears and his restless spirit, longing to hold him in my arms and keep him safe.

It’s only recently that the truth hit me. He was an adult, not a child, and except at the end, was more than capable of taking care of himself. Besides, if he does still exist somewhere, he is ageless, timeless, beyond any need of me and my feeble ministrations. (Feeble because nothing I could do erased a single moment of his pain or kept him alive one more day.)

There is an element of blank to my grief — an incomprehension of what it’s all about. I remember how grief feels, though I’m far enough along in the grief process that I have a hard time believing I was that shattered woman so lost in pain. But I don’t know the truth of life and death, and I’m not sure we humans are capable of understanding. And maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be. It keeps us focused on our lives and not on . . . well, whatever else is out there.

Although time has insulated me from the rawness of my grief, and although my grief work has brought me to the point where I can once again see possibilities and feel hope, there is one thing I will never lose — that great yearning to see him one more time. To hear his voice. See his smile. To hold him tightly as if I would never let him go. But I have let him go. I let him go three years ago, not allowing my needs to bind him to his life of pain.

And I need to let him go now.

Well, here it is — the upsurge in grief I didn’t feel when I started writing this post. Tears are running down my face. I know I need to let him go, to let go of the grief that binds us together still, but not today. Today I will remember. And grieve.

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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.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing. Connect with Pat on Google+

The Eve of My Third Anniversary of Grief

In just a few hours, it will be three years since the death of my life mate/soul mate. It seems impossible I’ve survived so long. It seems impossible he’s been gone so long. Sometimes I feel as if we just said good-bye, as if I could call him up and see how he is doing, as if when I am finished caring for my father, I could go home again. But of course, those are just tricks of the ever-changing grief process.

I’ve been doing well recently, keeping busy, not letting myself get too caught up in the past. The present is complicated enough with my father’s growing dependency (though he has been doing well the past week or so, taking more of an interest in his own care). And the future is becoming more real, not quite as bleak as it has seemed during the past few years.

020smallFor all these months of grief, I’ve been worried about what will happen to me when my present responsibilities end. Oddly, during my mate’s long dying, I never really thought of the future. I just presumed I’d be okay. He told me things would come together for me, and I believed him. But now that I know how life feels with him gone, I’ve been afraid of stagnating, drowning in loneliness, living as quietly and unobtrusively as I’ve always done. The realization that I don’t have to find a place and settle down but can live on the go if I wish destroyed those fears with one clean stroke, and I’ve spent the past week figuring out the logistics of such an adventurous life. It won’t be easy since I have few financial resources and strong hermit tendencies, but the alternative — stagnation — makes such a future seem possible.

Because of all that is occupying my mind, I thought I’d sail right through this anniversary without an upsurge of grief, (though I always miss him; that’s a given) but grief will not be denied. If I don’t acknowledge my loss and sorrow, grief will acknowledge me. A couple of nights ago, I dreamed I was grieving for him. Dreamed I wanted to go home to him. Dreamed I cried for him. And when I woke, I was crying still.

I guess it’s just as well that the next stage of my life’s journey could be a long way off. Apparently I have grieving left to do. Chances are, I always will grieve to a certain extent, but now I’m more concerned about what to do with my life despite the grief. I’d hate to meet him again some day and have to admit that I spent my life awash in tears. He would be disappointed in me, and to be honest, so would I.

But three years. Has it really been so long since I last saw his smile? Last heard his voice? Last felt his arms around me? It’s hard for me to believe, but the calendar doesn’t lie.

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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.” All Bertram’s books are published by Second Wind Publishing. Connect with Pat on Google+