Upsurges in Sadness Are Like Shortness of Breath After Exercise

I’m fine. Truly I am. For all of you who have expressed concern over my current upsurge in grief, I just want to tell you there is nothing to worry about. Upsurges in sadness do not in any way affect my life or my dealings with other people. They are just there, a fact of my life like shortness of breath after exercise. If I didn’t write about my feelings, no one would know about my times of sadness. There is so much bad advice given to people about grief, such as acceptable durations and ways of grieving, that I want to provide a counterpoint, and I wouldn’t do much good if I kept silent about what I happened to be feeling at any given moment.

Many people have told me that after the death of their husband, they never found happiness until they married again. People have told me that even after they got married, they still experienced upsurges in grief, sometimes years afterward. People tell me they never got over grief at the loss of a life mate, it just got different. The death of a cousin or even a brother doesn’t affect us the same way as the loss of a child or a soul mate, so the severity of the loss has to be taken into affect before you start wondering if someone is grieving inappropriately. Some people do fall in a pit of depression and cannot get out without help, but I am not one of them. Nor am I ruining my health by riding out the sadness. That’s what tears are for — to release the stress. Walking, exercising, and blogging also relieve the stress of trying to create a new life for myself out of the embers of the old one.

For me, an upsurge in grief usually comes right before or right after a new level of acceptance or a greater understanding. This latest upsurge began on Independence Day. It’s a day for families to get together, to have fun, to do whatever it is that families do when they get together, and I was alone. I understood that this could be the way holidays will be for the rest of my life, and I found it difficult dealing with the unwelcome understanding. Also, while walking in the desert recently, I’ve had several revelations that are helping me with my search to find a new focus for my life, and such forward motions bring on an upsurge of sadness because they take me further away from the past I shared with my deceased life mate/soul mate.

And anyway, even though I am no longer a child in the world of grief, I’ve not yet achieved full growth, either. Therapists who have studied grief and grievers admit that it takes three to five years to find your way back to life, and I am just past two years. I still have a long way to go. Besides, what’s a few tears among friends?

The truth is, though, I am more exhausted than sad. I’m tired of living in an alien world, tired of having to figure out where to go from here, tired of not feeling like me, but mostly, I’m tired of his being dead. Whether I continue to be sad or find happiness, whether I continue floundering of find new focus, he will still be dead. And absolutely nothing I do or say or feel will ever change that.

Two Years and One Day of Grief

Today I embark on my third year of grief since the death of my life mate/soul mate, and I am now in uncharted territory.

The first year of grief passes in a blur of angst, emotional shock, myriad physical reactions, painful surprises about the nature of loss and grief, and the almost impossible effort of going through the chores of living.

The second year of grief is one of learning to deal with the truth that he is dead, and that there is nothing you can do about it. No matter how well you deal with your grief, no matter how you rise to the challenge of life without him, he is not coming back. You knew this, of course, but now it has seeped deeper into your consciousness, and you feel it with every breath you take. Because of this, the second year (or at least parts of it) can be worse than the first. What makes the second year even harder to face is that you’ve used your grief card. Everyone thinks you should be over your grief, and they have little patience for your continued tears. They urge you to get on with your life, but they don’t understand that this is how you are getting on with your life.

The third year of grief is . . . I don’t yet know since this is only the first day of this new year. Today feels no different from yesterday or the day before, and I don’t imagine tomorrow will feel any different.

During the past two years, I’ve been looking for the bedrock of my new life — the thing, the idea, the place, whatever that bedrock might be — that gives me a foundation on which to build a future. Mostly, I’ve been waiting for my grief to dissipate so I can find my way, but the truth is, I will always grieve for him, though perhaps not as actively as I have been, because he will always be dead.

Acceptance is supposed to be one of the stages of grief, but I’ve never actually reached that stage (nor did I experience most of the supposed stages of grief). I cannot accept that he is dead for the simple reason that it’s not my place to accept it. Acceptance to me suggests that it is okay, and I will never believe that it is okay for him to be dead (even though I do understand the necessity of it). Perhaps acceptance only means that I accept the reality of my continued sorrow and loneliness.

People tell me that you never do get over such a grievous loss, but that after three to five years you rediscover the importance of living. It might be easier to meet the future head-on if I’m not expecting my sadness to dissipate. Maybe this is my bedrock — the missing, the yearning, the sadness, the loneliness. If so, I just need to accept that they are part of my life, and build from there.

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