A Retrospective of Grief

Another 27th. This is the 46th twenty-seventh of the month I have survived since the death of my life mate/soul mate death on March 27, 2010. At the beginning of my grief, each minute, hour, day seemed unfathomably long. I felt as if I lived years during that first month. I still don’t understand how I made it through that eon. The pain started out unbearable and got progressively worse. Each breath took such effort that it seemed as if it would be easier to stop breathing altogether. And yet I continued to breathe, one agonizing gulp of air at a time.

For the first three years, I could feel the grief surging as each twenty-seventh crept up on me, but today I only knew the date by the calendar. Even so, I might not have noticed if I hadn’t advanced his perpetual calendar.

perpetual calendarAbout a month before he died, he told me he wanted me to keep the calendar. It was special to him — a family heirloom and a relic of his childhood — and he didn’t want me to throw it away with the rest of his effects. Which I probably would have done. I thought such calendars silly because if you don’t remember to advance the calendar each day, the calendar loses its effectiveness. He, of course, had the discipline to advance the calendar. No matter where we lived, no matter the state of his health or the stresses of our life, he always advanced the calendar first thing every morning.

And now so do I. It has become a way of honoring his life, of remembering him, of being connected to him in a small way. For a long time, I felt connected to him through grief. (Odd, that. It was the feeling of being disconnected from him that grieved me in the first place.) Now that my grief has waned, there is nothing to connect me to him. Unlike many who have lost someone important to them, I have never had a visitation, a sign, any indication that he still exists somewhere. He is simply gone — gone from my life, anyway.

The tears are gone, too.

It seems strange now that I grieved so deeply. I can barely remember loving someone so profoundly that his death tore me apart. Can barely remember that shattered woman who screamed her pain to the uncaring winds. Was that really me or simply a character in the book of my life? (I meant this as a metaphor, but I did write a book about my life, or rather my life of grief. That seems strange, too.)

We live each day as it comes, deal with each pain and sorrow, and somehow, through the years, we become something other than we were. I am no longer a schoolgirl dealing with the small dramas of grades, cliques, unacceptance. No longer a young woman desperately and radiantly in love with a man. No longer an adult struggling to live while her soul mate was dying. No longer a grieving woman.

At the moment, I am thrust in the role of caregiver for my 97-year-old father and homeless brother, but someday, I won’t be this woman, either. I don’t know what will become of me, don’t know what I will become (other than older), but chances are, I still will be advancing that ancient calendar in honor of the life that meant so much to me.

***

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.

6 Responses to “A Retrospective of Grief”

  1. Judy Jones Says:

    I came across your blog just a few days ago and was unable to read more than one post as it was so painful. Your words described what I felt so well as have just lost my beloved husband in December. I did read this one and forwarded to my Mother as my Father died in 2012. Thank you for so eloquently putting into words how it is to loose ones love. Judy

    Sent from iPhone

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I am so sorry about your husband. Such a difficult and painful time for you. In the coming months, when you feel isolated and alone, I hope you will return to read a few more posts, and perhaps leave a comment if you wish to talk. I will respond. Wishing you peace and comfort.

  2. Carol Says:

    I’ve never seen a perpetual calendar quite like that one… it’s very distinctive and lovely. I’m told there is security in routine, so perhaps the daily commitment to change the calendar is providing a subtle benefit. Whatever the case, I’m glad you’re able to reflect positively on the changes you’ve experienced in these past four years. I think as you share your experiences you will be a great help to others who can’t see past the immediacy of their new grief.

  3. Pam Says:

    Pat,
    I am sitting here balling my eyes out to think of what I will going through way too soon. I’ve just read many, many of your posts and they are inspiring. How is it that I can mourn when he isn’t even gone yet? He isn’t near death, although he does have copd. My soul mate is 29 years my elder. We’ve been married for ten wonderful years but age is taking its toll on him.I knew this when we married that eventually I would be the caretaker and I was willing to do that because I loved him and wanted the special time I did have with him. What I wasn’t prepared for was how deep, true, and one with my soul our llove would become. We have the type of love that most people never know they are missing. In the beginning I didn’t know love this powerful although I had loved before. But now that I know this I have no idea how I will ever live without him. I’ll have decades to go without him and that just kills me to think of. A personal event a month ago happened in my life and it made me realize that he won’t be here with me long enough. At best we’ll have 17 years together. Since this eye opener I have been crying all the time when he is not home (gone three nights a week for work) but I’ve had such joy in cherishing him so much more than I ever have before. I am starting to do things now so I won’t regret not doing them when it’s too late. I am very happy I found your site and I will continue to check for updates to see where you are in your recovery. I know I have a long road ahead of me but this had given me the gift of being able to really and truly cherish and enjoy the great life we have together.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Ah, Pam. We do mourn long before they are gone. My soul mate almost died twenty years before the end, and it took me years to get over that grief. If you have seven more years together, think of the joy you will have. The end will come soon enough. Try not to think of it. Continue to cherish the days you have. You will be surprised how the knowledge that you treasured each moment of your love will make your grief easier.

      One of the reasons I wrote about my grief was to remind people not to take their love for granted. I’m glad you’re heeding the reminder. Love is too important to let it get lost in the daily woes.

      Wishing you many more years with your soul mate.

  4. nick evans Says:

    hi pat, A friend of mine from a bereavement facebook site recommended your book the “The great yearning” i will buy it today i look forward to reading it as i have your blog posts i hope they connect with me as this post has today i lost my last remaining parent my mum on the 17/02/2013 + the pain in my heart 2yrs later is still so deep, I dont know like you how i’ve got though the time but so how i’m still here, i still feel like i dont know how i’m gonna get though some days still, i lived with mum all my life i’m 47yrs old, mum was my best friend my mum, almost my life partner in a way she was all i ever knew i miss her so much it hurts like hell still, i hope to find some comfort in your book thank you for writing it.


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