Double Whammy of Grief

For more two and a half years, Saturday was a sadder day for me. My life mate/soul mate died late Friday night or early Saturday morning, depending on how you look at it, and often my mind/body saw it both ways, with an upswing of grief on Friday that grew to a crescendo on Saturday and didn’t dissipate until dawn on Sunday. Even if I paid no attention to the calendar, grief surged, which always mystified me — how could my body know when I didn’t?

Today is a double whammy — not only is it Saturday, but it is the 27th, the date of his death — but there doesn’t seem to be a great upsurge of sorrow on these days and dates anymore. My sadness is like an underground river running beneath my consciousness, and it doesn’t profoundly affect the hard-won peace of my days, though it does ripple and churn at times, most notably when I remember why he is out of my life. Death is too big for me to understand, and the thought of his being dead always brings tears to my eyes. Even now, after thirty-one months, I cannot bear that he is dead. Perhaps he doesn’t mind, but since he has yet to communicate with me in any way that I can comprehend, I don’t know how he is doing or even if he “is.” (Many people see butterflies or experience things that seem out of place or out of time, but I never have.)

Lately I’ve been posting articles about looking forward, about being me, about trying to open myself to surprises and the power of the universe, and sometimes I wonder if I’m just fooling myself (and you) with this pretense of being okay with my current state of affairs. I’m not okay with it, but I can’t undo death — not just his, but death in general — and so I try to act as if the universe is unfolding the way it should. And perhaps, in the final analysis, that’s all any of us can do — fake it until we make it. (Whatever “it” is.)

Maybe there is a special destiny waiting for me and that is why I am still here, even though I somehow always assumed death would pull me out of this world when it took him. Maybe my being here is nothing but a trick of genetics or a roll of destiny’s dice, but whatever the reason, I am still here. And he is not. It doesn’t seem fair, though I still don’t know which of us got the worst of the deal and which of us got the best. Could it be there is no worst or best? I don’t know, and probably will never know while I’m here on this earth. I can only act as if this is the best for me and go from here to wherever life might lead me.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy 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+

The Internet is My Tranquilizer

I read an amusing, beautiful, and wise article on Malcolm’s Round Table yesterday: The Internet is Drugs.

Malcolm R. Campbell wrote: As I sit here in the sunny kitchen of my father-in-law’s farmhouse, I’m going through withdrawal because the Internet does not exist here. On a typical morning, I would have checked e-mail (pot), looked at several news screens (cocaine) and read everything in my Facebook (meth) news feed.

My Facebook status would be a no-brainer: blitzed, spaced out, and higher than the summit of Mount Everest. I recall those old, fried-egg-in-a-skillet public service announcements: This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. Any questions? [Click here to read the rest of the article.]

Malcolm makes the very good point that on the internet, everything is instant gratification, whereas on the farm, everything moves slower, can’t move at the speed of light from one location to another, can’t give you the drug-like gratification one gets from the internet.

For me, the internet is a tranquilizer. It’s a quiet place (since the sound on my computer is turned off), and it quiets my mind. Grief brought me much confusion, not only because of the pain of losing my life mate/soul mate and the loneliness of struggling on by myself, but because of the eternal questions that haunt me.

A couple of days ago I wrote about the physiological changes that grief brings (Grief and Our Lizard Brain). Besides these physiological disturbances and the more commonly known psychological anguish, people who lose a life mate are subject to spiritual and philosophical traumas that upset our normal way of thinking. Death gives life a whole new perspective, and so we are compelled to rethink everything we thought we knew, everything we held dear. Some people find a deeper comfort in religion while others are assailed by new doubts. I found myself with a multitude of questions.

Who am I now that I am no longer part of our survival unit? If he is in a better place, why am still here? If life is a gift, why was it taken from him? In the presence of life, what is the meaning of death? In the presence of death, what is the meaning of life? So many questions!

Yet on the internet, there is no question of who am I. I know who I am. I can see me on Facebook. I can Google me. I can check me out on my website, on my publisher’s website, on Amazon. And I know why I’m here. I’m here to make an impression so maybe people will read my blogs and perhaps buy my books. I don’t need to question the meaning of life and death, because the internet is eternal. (Or at least the electrons are.) As long as there is an internet, there I am.

Walking out in the desert in the real world brings a semblance of peace, but along with that peace come the questions: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of life and death? Where do I go from here?

As my grief fades a bit, some of the bigger questions are fading, too, and I’m mostly left with the last question. Where do I go from here? On the internet, I am always “here.” In real life, I will need to relocate, to find a place to start over. But that question, for now, is as unanswerable as all the others that haunt me, so here I am, on the internet, where there is an answer for everything. And if there isn’t, I’m too tranquilized to care.