Resuming My Lonely March Into the Future

Sometimes the hardest thing we have to do is keep marching into the future, especially when the person who connected us to the world lives in our past.

My life mate/soul mate meant more to me than anything or anyone else for almost thirty-four years. His death forty-five months ago brought me more pain than I could ever have imagined, and it still brings me pain, particularly when
I remember the reason he’s out of my life — that he’s dead. Death is incomprehensible to me, and maybe always will be. Even more incomprehensibly, he died relatively young. 63. That’s hardly any age at all in a time when so many live into their nineties.

I do well most of the time. I know I can’t live in the past, especially not the past where we were happy. (A lot of the time during the last decade or so as his health declined, we weren’t happy, but it didn’t matter as long as we were together.) I try to concentrate on today, make what plans I can for the future, add new people to my life in an attempt to combat my loneliness. Mostly, I try to become a person who can survive such a tragic loss, maybe even one who can thrive.

And yet, on Christmas afternoon, I couldn’t stop crying.

It’s odd — Christmas didn’t mean much to us. We weren’t big on celebrations or traditions, but by default, we created our own traditions. Since we couldn’t work or run errands or do any of our other usual tasks when the world was shut down, we spent the day watching movies and nibbling on finger foods — cheese, meats, crackers, fruit, vegetables.

I spent a quiet day this Christmas. I fixed a festive meal for my father, went for a walk, then watched a movie with a plate of food in my lap. And that’s when my forward thinking collapsed, and all I could think of was the past.

I’ve signed up for an online dating service, and even have been trying to connect with people, but today I remembered why I’m trying to move on with my life, and something inside of me rebelled. I don’t want to move on. I want what I had. I want to go home to him, ask his forgiveness for whatever I did that made him leave me, see if we can reconnect. But he didn’t leave me, at least not voluntarily. He died.

I’m tired. I’m tired of his being dead. I’m tired of trying to move forward alone. Tired of trying to fill a void that seems endlessly deep.

But what other choice do I have? I allowed myself that time of sadness on Christmas, but now that it has run its course, I’ll steadfastly resume my lonely march into the future.

***

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.

8 Responses to “Resuming My Lonely March Into the Future”

  1. Linda Says:

    I do so know what you are saying. It’s been 2 years for me since Jim died and I have been busy. I have done a lot of traveling, have a great home and situation and some friends but it is just a matter of forcing myself to survive. I don’t see a future and it is depressing. I am volunteering at a hospital gift shop, which I’m not finding very fulfilling. It gets me out of the house and with some people which is good but I shudder to think this is my future. I don’t think I’m that old, 74, but I’m very active. My problem is I don’t have a burning desire to do something. I certainly don’t want a job and volunteering is good but I wish I could find something I would really love. We were married 52 years and that’s the only life I really know.
    I have looked at the on line dating quite a lot but am scared of it. I have heard other people have done well with the dating services. I also am not anxious to find someone who is in need of a caretaker at this age. So I feel somewhat doomed. I would love suggestions fo how to find oneself.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Linda, I wish I knew the answer. What we need is to fall in love again, not necessarily with a person, but with something. Without love for something, without a passion to make us want to get up in the morning, without a burning desire to do anything, all we can do is keep trying new things. You’re doing what you can — traveling, trying new things. Maybe someday you will turn a corner and stumble on something you love.

      The truth is, from what I have learned from others in our position and what I have experienced, it takes approximately four years to get to the point of finding a renewal in life. Even though you’re keeping busy, grief still is part of your life. Even when you aren’t actively mourning, even when you go marching into the future, the loss takes a long time to heal. Try not to look too far into the future. Take each day as it comes. Be good to yourself.

      I have a hunch something good is still out there for you. How do I know? From grief. Grief took me somewhere I never knew existed. I never knew there was such pain. If there is something so awesomely painful as grief hiding in us, ready for the right catalyst to bring it to the surface, it seems to me there should be other unknown states — good states — that need a catalyst to bring them out. This is the thought I hold on to, and who knows — it might even be true.

      As for online dating sites, it can’t hurt, especially if you try a free site. In my case, so far nothing has come of it, not even scammers, but then, I’m not really interested in finding a serious relationship. I have no interest in having to take care of anyone as they age. I’ve known two women — one in her eighties and one in her seventies who married much younger men, and in both cases, the women outlasted the men, so even trying to find someone younger isn’t an answer.

      I hope you find something that helps make life a matter of more than survival.

  2. leesis Says:

    Oh Pat, yet again you write with such honest, emotional truth that you move me to tears.

    We must accept the surges of grief i think knowing that each year the intensity of our emotions will lessen and feeling both hope because of that and grief because we didn’t want this at all and no, we have no clue what it all means.

    Yet i think it a good thing that it is also true that joy can be found and that over time it does get easier to be open too receiving it. With love

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      The emotions are losing intensity, but apparently, they are still there inside me. I have a hunch the online dating sites exacerbated the sorrow. All those questions they ask about what I want remind me that I had what I wanted. Even though nothing has come of the site, and even though I’m only interested in friendship, it’s a step away from him, and every step away from him brings with it a spate of grief.

  3. Lorraine Says:

    pat,oh how true,I am coming to two years in February.At times I look around the house and just expect him to appear.It is a kind of an ache.

  4. writecrites Says:

    I’m wondering if openly grieving is the answer. I have a friend who lost her adored husband several years ago, grieved openly with remembrances of him at every opportunity, and now she is in love again, brimming with happiness. Another friend lost her mother several months ago, and she is using Facebook as a grieving platform. It’s not my style, and sometimes I think she is looking for sympathy, but if it works for her……I keep remembering that when I lost my Dad in 1989, I was devastated but did not allow myself to grieve openly. I had to be strong for my mother. I still tear up at the thought of him. When my mother died ten years later, I went into a deep depression, saw a psychiatrist, and did not want to go on living. But after a terrible year of that, I came out of it. There is a small book called “Good Grief” that helped me to understand the stages we go through after a loved one dies. We never stop loving them, but in time, the emptiness does go away.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I think you’re right about letting ourselves grieve. People who do grieve openly eventually find renewal, happiness, and a deeper ability to love. Some people who hide their grief become bitter, others have no problems. Like everything else in life, It depends on the individual.


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