Grief: The Great Yearning
So many people have told me lately that I should write a book about grief, that I realized somehow I’m not getting the point across — I did write a book about grief, and it’s been published now for over a year.
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.
Day 23, Grief Journal
I was lonely last year with Jeff spending so much time in bed, but now I am so lonely I feel bleak. And bereft. There seems to be little reason to live. No, I am not suicidal, but if I were to die today, I would not care.
I feel as if I am disappearing, fading from life, and all that is left is pain. How anyone gets through this, I do not know. And for what? Life didn’t seem foolish when Jeff was alive. I always knew we were meant for each other, but I never realized that he was my tie to life, to wanting to live. Finding that desire in myself right now is next to impossible. All I see are tenuous hopes and promises of pain. It’s not enough. Not nearly enough.
Do I need someone in order for my life to have meaning? Sounds weak. But isn’t love a major component of life? I know people survive quite nicely on their own, managing to find purpose, but I am so lost. So unhappy.
Perhaps the future holds something good for me, but that is such a silly word to pin my life on, yet that’s all I have—“perhaps”. Jeff no longer even has that. I’m trying to find comfort in knowing he is no longer suffering, and for a moment yesterday I even envied him. I wish my pain were over, too.
I’ve developed a terrible fear of dying. I could not handle dying the way Jeff did. It took him so long—years of getting sicker and weaker. Years of pain. I’m truly glad he isn’t suffering any more; I just wish he never had to suffer at all. Wish he were here, happy and healthy.
So many foolish wishes. Nothing I can say or do will change anything. The past is done. Finished. It scares me that I have no clear image of him in my mind, but my mind has never been a pictorial one—it’s more about feelings and impressions.
I miss him. Miss his fleeting sweet smiles. He had so little to smile about, yet he did smile at me. Did I return his smiles? I hope so. I loved him. Even when I could barely tolerate him (and there were such moments), I still loved him.
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.
Day 112, Grief Journal
I’m going through a numb phase right now. I only cried briefly yesterday. That came after I finished watching the Paul Hogan/Michael Caton movie Jeff taped—Strange Bedfellows—and I realized I’d never watch movies with him again.
Cry, not cry. Feel, not feel. It’s all the same. Just different aspects of grief. One thing they’re right about. This is WORK! I’m tired, have little energy, don’t seem to be able to think or to do anything but the most basic chores. And I can’t make myself believe anything is important. I’m still waiting to get a grip on my grief. Still feeling as if I’m in a transitional stage, waiting for my life to start.
Except that I had a life. We had a life.
People talk about “healing” when it comes to surviving a death, and it’s as good a term as any. It does seem as if the wound where Jeff was amputated from me is still bloody and gaping, though it is “healing” somewhat. It’s not as constantly raw as it was at first.
I always felt scattered when we were apart, worried about something happening to one of us when the other wasn’t there. Well, something did happen. And I was there. Now it’s just me. Wherever I am, there I am, but I still feel scattered. Fragmented. As if parts of me are strewn all over the universe. There’s no reason to worry about him, but I still do.
Great post Pat! Really appreciate your insight, honesty and sharing. You make it easy for others to connect with and relate to your story.