Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Partners for Life .....

                                                    photo source

.... three words that I read recently.
In a book of fiction.  A book of suspense, really.
About a widower of 8 years.
Three words that described, not his wife, but ..... grief.

"The pain flooded in again.  It was always there, of course.  Through the shaking hands and slapping of the backs, the grief stayed by his side, tapping Griffin on the shoulder, whispering in his ear, reminding him that they were partners for life."*

I've never really thought of grief like that.  I mean, of course I'll grieve Jim's death for the rest of my life, but I never thought of grief as personified .... or as a partnership.

If I think of Grief as more of a "person", I see him (no exact reason for this choice of gender .... it just seems like a "him" to me) differently than I saw him in the beginning.

During those first two years I would have said that Grief was pure hard, cold evil.  He was trying to talk me out of existing, and he was doing a pretty good job.  He was bigger than I was, stronger than I was and he seemed to envelop me with his coldness.  He was relentless, seeming to reach inside of me and touch my heart with his cold, hard fingers .... causing more pain than I thought was possible to survive.  Grief worked almost 24/7.  He was tireless.

But, as hard as he tried, he failed to accomplish that goal.
And that seemed to make him a little weaker.

Grief has grown even weaker since those days ..... and I expect that he will continue to do so, but he'll always be right behind me, ready to tap me on the shoulder when I least expect .... just to remind me that he's there.

He has become less evil, too .... though he does have his moments.  But sometimes now, rather than tears, his presence will bring warm memories .... and small smiles along with the sadness.

I have grown stronger, while he's only grown weaker.

Grief will never again have the control over me that he once had, though I know he will still surprise me from time to time.
And that's ok.
Because that's a part of loving Jim.
Always loving him, no matter where I am or who I'm with.
And that, too .... is ok.

So while I think it's true that Grief will always be in partnership with me .... his share of this merger gains less and less of me.  Less of my attention, less of my thoughts .... less of my tears.

Which makes him a very minor partner.
And that .... is very ok.

*Tell No One - Harlan Coben


  1. Great post, Janine!

  2. Good point! I'd never personified grief either, but it's very fitting that grief is in fact a partner for life.

    After about two years I very smugly thought I had a handle on grief. I did individual & group counseling, and joined a Mindfulness group. I was functional, seemingly happy, putting myself out there, tears were becoming a much less regular appearance.
    I thought that I'd done it!
    That I’d survived and had grief licked!

    I’d even started dating!
    And it was surprisingly much easier than I’d feared it would be. (Took me 6 months to work my way up to agreeing to a blind date, but I got there!)
    Then after 4+ months of seeing this man, we hit a minor speed bump a few weeks ago. It was a misunderstanding but I very briefly feared that he was I was losing him.
    And THAT triggered a whole new and overwhelming sense of loss and loneliness.
    Like I hadn’t experienced since Dave’s terminal diagnosis and quick death.
    It was overwhelming and sickening. I lost my appetite and my zest for life. AGAIN!
    And then I didn’t know if this new intense feeling of loss was actually for this man. Or if I’d just unleashed a new and extremely powerful trigger for grieving Dave some more?! I didn’t know which loss I was grieving!!!

    So, I did not ‘lose’ this new man in my life. (It was mainly a misunderstanding and I feared the worst while I waited to see him again to talk.)
    But since that time, I find myself consistently sad again. Like I’m back at the 6 month mark. Breaking into tears (when I’m alone) for no apparent reason.
    S.O.B! Effing grief will not let me go!

    1. You hang in there!

    2. Valerie,
      I agree with Anon. Hang in there. You will be standing up again soon, much sooner than it took before. Each time that a huge wave of grief smacks into me, I stand against it a bit better. If I do fall, I get up sooner. His visits to you will get shorter, and easier to overcome.
      No, he won't let you go .... but he does get weaker. And you WILL get stronger.

  3. I wish I didn't have this partner, but I too believe it will be there for life. The pain of grief will ebb and flow over time; at times it will rear up and roar in my face, like it has recently. Like you, Valerie, I thought I was moving on, focusing on living again. And then my Dad turned 90 in the same week of my husbands birthday, and no one in my family acknowledge my husband....even his brothers forgot...I have never felt so all alone with so many people around. It was like they all forgot what happened, and that he even existed. I'm right back down there again, wondering if it's worth the effort to get up.

    1. It IS worth it .... it just takes a while to feel that. No one (well, maybe almost no one) feels the desire to survive this loss. I know I wished with all my being that I would just die in my sleep .... of a broken heart.
      I think that only happens if you have a really bad heart .... or if you're like 102. Since I'm not in either category, I'm still here, giving hope to others.
      You're still here, too. And just you being here gives hope to others who are behind you. And though you'd rather your husband be here, giving someone hope is a huge thing.
      You are SO worth the effort.

  4. Well said again Janine.
    I felt this too. The evil grief stalking me.
    Now - he walks with me and we talk.
    Sometimes he pisses me off, other times i sob while he talks
    and lately he points and says look - remember this . . .?
    and I smile.

  5. So well said. Perfect. So very true!
    Roseann K

  6. So well said as usual Janine. I also agree with the other responses. I find myself motoring along and then suddenly things happen like a broken romance or those who seemingly care forgetting an important day like the anniversary of my husband's death and SMACK that grief guy is back. Sometimes the grief guy appears without a trigger. "He' takes you "there" when you are most alone with just your thoughts. Those feelings of loss and lonliness quickly rise to the surface and effort is required to contain and manage them.

    I, too, feel like I am exhausted from overcoming grief but the widows/widowers who write and respond here always give me the hope I need to continue to take steps.

    So to everyone, my HUGE thanks!

  7. Anytime Sugar - when you feel you can't hang on a minute more. Come here.
    It is the space to breathe and find your way back onto the road.