Bearing What isn't Bearable but is Borne~

How do we bear it?  Bear the unbearable, I mean?

Husband, wife, lifelong partner...there are so many names and relationships, so many labels that our world uses to describe the love between a man and a woman.  Or two people of the same gender.  It doesn’t matter, really, does it?  It’s just about the love and then it’s about the death of one, the seemingly insurmountable loss, and the unbearable grief that explodes our world into unrecognizable dust and debris.

I don’t know how we bear it. I don’t know how I’ve borne it for 960 days. Which I know it’s been only because I downloaded an app on my phone that added it up for me. I’d been keeping track of the years and the months, consciously and unconsciously. It’s always there, in the back of my mind, in the front of my my mind, in my heart, whether I want it to be there or not.

My counselor asked me the other day if there had been, if there was, looking back, any of the stages of grief (so called) that have been tougher than others. I told him’s all been unbearable and I am. Still.

We all know, don’t we, about the shock of the first year. Walking around, at least in our minds, trying to take in the untakeable. Unremitting pain, and yet, weirdly, we’re protected in some unfathomable way by the shock being bigger than the pain.

The second year, which, again, we all know, can be oh fuck, even worse than the first, because our brains are beginning to absorb the unbearable fact that yes they’re gone. Forever.  The unremitting pain is now bigger than the shock. Shock is no longer giving us any degree of protection.

This third year...well, all I know to say is that it’s the shock AND the pain fermenting all together in one huge cauldron. A witch’s brew. The disbelief of oh god he’s gone, along with hey, life happens, right?  Cancer happens and people die, right? It’s just an ordinary aspect of life, right?  Followed by oh god I can’t believe I’ll never see him again. Ever Ever EVER. 

How is this my life? How do I do this without him? How do I do this with this unremitting grief? How do I find passion about life again? How do I make this work when I don’t really care if it does but I have to care because I’m still fucking alive and I have to do something...right? How do I care again? How? How? How? And, do I bear the unbearable? How have I already borne the unbearable for this amount of time?

Other women have said to me I could never live without my husband! I love him so much and I couldn’t live without him! To which I respond I can’t live without my husband either, but I am.  But yes, HOW am I alive without him?  And I couldn't, and I can't, tell you how I’ve done it, anymore than you can probably tell me how you’ve lived without your someone. I don’t know how I’ve gotten up every morning for the last 960 days and gone to bed alone for the same 960 days and not lost my mind. I don’t know. I don’t know that I’ll ever know, in a way that I can really explain to anyone.

You just do it, right?

We just do it.

I’ve done it.

I’m doing it.

Who the fuck knows how....

Showing 4 reactions

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  • Cathy Gonzalez
    commented 2015-12-11 13:02:41 -0800
    10 months after my husband died, I was putting one foot in front of the other and doing what I needed to keep going, but I suddenly realized that I was waiting for him to come back. It was like, in my mind, he was on a very long business trip. It took me that long to be able to even look at the fact that he wasn’t coming back. I felt like I had to start all over again, which in a way I did. He’s now been gone for 13 months and I’m working through this new stage of grief and coping. Oddly enough, my birthdays are tough for me. It really hits home that I’m still alive and he isn’t.

    I’ve had many people ask me how I do it…how do I manage without him? When you’re s#*t out of other options, you just do it.
  • Penny Sharman
    commented 2015-12-11 08:16:36 -0800
    Alison: Your post is so timely for me. My husband died 16 months ago and I was thinking that I was doing okay all things considered. But this past week has been awful and it occurred to me that it was as bad as when he first died. And then I thought no it’s worse because in the beginning, I was numb and now I’m not so the pain, the missing him, his absence is so much more acute. So your post just spoke volumes to me. We don’t know how we’re able to go on but we go on. We just do! Thanks again.
  • Cathy
    commented 2015-12-10 07:45:19 -0800
    Always asking those “how” questions too, never really getting any answers. It just is. Trying to focus on how he would want me to be, to continue to live a full life, to find joy again. So hard, knowing what we all know.
  • Lisa Richardson
    commented 2015-12-10 00:37:22 -0800
    Isn’t it strange how we mark time? I used to be so proud of how long we had been together, LOVED that there was no end in sight, and looked forward to the celebration of our anniversaries. Now I measure time in how long he’s been gone. I have to stop and think about how long we would have been together. I don’t know how I got here either, it’s all such a blur. Over four years of just surviving each day, one foot in front of the other. It’s so damn exhausting isn’t it?