What I've Learned About Grief
No one gives you a handbook on grief and says, “Here you go, now read this and figure it out.” If it only it were that easy right? I’ve had loss in the past, I lost my Grandfather who was best friend and it was devastating, but I was pretty young and although it was awful and sad, I had no idea how grief and it’s the jaw-clenching, lonely, empty, quiet, hollow feelings of they are never coming back grief was like until I lost my beloved dog to bone cancer last year.
I’ve lost pets in the past too, but Harley was different and if I go into too much detail about it, I won’t be able to get through this post. Harley was a light that we have now lost and I’m not sure will ever get it back. He had an energy to him that lit up a room and brought everyone so much joy. Everyone who met him, always asked if my dog was smiling because he was that happy. He loved everyone. His death sucked the life out of me. I lost apart of me when Harley died. Shortly after that happened we experienced another loss that to this day I still cannot form into words, but it was gut-wrenching and it was the type of loss that made you think about all of the what-if’s.
It’s taken my husband and I nearly a year later to come back from those back to back to back losses and start over. Right before we lost Harley we also lost Shane’s mom, which was shocking and fast. What I didn’t know about grief is that when it happens to you again, it’s as if you are starting all over. Last week we unexpectedly loss our cat Lucca to a rare autoimmune blood disease and it all happened so fast. I thought he was doing better, we thought he would turn around but he didn’t. And in all of my experience with grief, I had no idea how it hits you like a ton of bricks all over again. The worst about losing Lucca besides losing such a vibrant soul, is that it brought up Harley and our other loss all over again, as if it had happened yesterday. The memories, the feelings, I can even recall the temperature and the weather from that day. Everything was brought back to me nearly a year later, and everything was here again.
The feelings like I forgot something, the unending guilt of not being able to bury Harley in our back yard. The realization associated with a tangible life not being there anymore. The massive feelings of loss and emptiness. It all came back like a dream that turned into a real-life nightmare. All of these feelings of grief also brought a ton of fear surrounding the future. Would it happen again? Was this bound to happen twice? Is this the only thing in the cards for us? Will the universe have my back or will it let me down again? Sometimes our fears out weigh what we want and we let them bury us. Some even let the grief bury them. Staying stuck in repeat cycles of loss.
All this to say that here is what I continue to learn about grief. It doesn’t get easier. If anything, grief gets harder each time it happens to us. Grief comes back. If you don’t deal with your grief it will come back to haunt you like demons in the night. You never get over the loss, you just adapt. I will never get over losing Harley and my other loss, but I’ve learned to continued living. It’s not easy and my fear scares the crap out of me. I cannot control grief, and I cannot control my future, but I can control how I react to it all. Running around being frazzled, terrified and stressed does absolutely nothing except perpetuate the grief and the fears associated along with it. Grief doesn’t go away. It’s always there, perhaps as a reminder of what we have and what to be thankful for. The grief is also a reminder that we got through that loss and it made us stronger than before.
I feel like each time I’ve experienced loss, I become more of a warrior. I’ve become more in-tune with myself and what I really want in this life. I even become closer to my grief. The other thing I’ve learned about grief is it cannot be stifled. It will always come back, especially if you don’t deal with. Avoiding it will only bring it up in other areas of your life. And last, we have no control. We can run our day with routine and we can do our best to stick to schedules and take care ourselves, but at the end of the day we have no control over the future. All we can do is keep our unwavering faith that it’s all working out the way it’s supposed to and be good people.
The grief and loss are always there and the only answer I’ve come up with as to why they happen is to teach us lessons that we need to learn, such as patience, grace, and to have faith. Making predictions about what could happen isn’t going to change what’s actually going to happen. If you are experiencing grief, give yourself a huge break and big hug. Give yourself time and space to grieve and know that there is no timeline on grief. Let what comes come and let the feelings flow through you so you can work to heal parts of you that still need healing.
With love and light.