Someone asked me today if I had any tips for writing a book about grief, but I have no such tips. I never actually set out to write a book about grief, never planned to make any of my writing public (except for the blog posts, of course), but I was so lost, so lonely, so sick with grief and bewildered by all I was experiencing, that the only way I could try to make sense of it all was to put my feelings into words. Whether I was writing letters to Jeff (my deceased life mate/soul mate) or simply pouring out my feelings in a journal, it helped me feel close to him, as if, once again, I was talking things over with him. The only problem was, I only heard my side of the story. He never told me how he felt about his dying and our separation. Did he feel as broken as I did? Did he feel amputated? Or was he simply glad to be shucked of his body, and perhaps even of me?
It’s been three years now since the following piece was written, and though I don’t have the physical trauma and emotional agony, I’m still lost, still miss him, still pinning my life mostly on “perhaps.” How did I get through three years of such great yearning? I honestly don’t know other than by taking life one step at a time.
Excerpt from Grief: The Great Yearning
Day 43, Grief Journal
On Wednesday I took my car to the mechanic to get it ready for the trip, on Thursday, I took Jeff’s car to get the brakes fixed, then yesterday I had the first day of the yard sale. Spent most of last evening crying and screaming. “Grief work” they call it. It’s sickening (literally) to be dismantling our lives. Sickening to think of leaving here, leaving Jeff behind.
My time with Jeff wasn’t always “quality” time in that we were out of sync the past couple of years (no wonder, what with his dying) but I have learned one thing. ALL time with a loved one is quality time. Time is the currency of love. It’s not so much what you feel as what you do. It’s having time for someone, being present for him.
I do okay while writing in this journal. I can write rationally about Jeff, our past and my future, but when I’m in the throes of anguish, I’m anything but rational. This whole experience makes me feel unbalanced. Well, I am un-balanced. When Jeff stepped off the world, he unbalanced it, unbalanced me. I have to find balance and do it on my own—I can’t expect anyone else to balance me and my world.
Well, gotta go get ready for another yard sale day. The worst part comes not from selling our stuff for pocket change, but from seeing all the couples picking over the shards of our life. If I’d known that the only ones stopping would be older couples, I might not have put myself through this. It’s too difficult. Reminds me that I am no longer half of a couple. That I have no one to grow old with. No one to be with.
I won’t cry.
At least not until I’m alone tonight.
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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+