To hear the audio version of this blog, click here. This post was initially written in draft form before the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15th. I think it’s even more pertinent now. My heart goes out to all affected. And since we are all connected, this does affect us all.
We had to put my fiancé’s 15 year-old golden retriever Jazz to sleep this past week. We knew the time was coming and it was somewhat expected, but somehow, when that day actually came, we weren’t really ready.
It was hard. It was peaceful. There was a sense of relief about not having to worry about him anymore.
In the car on the way home from the vet, my fiancé said he’d learned a lot from Jazz. I asked what.
He said,” that there’s nothing worth getting worked up over and to just go with the flow.” Animals are just so wise.
Now you may be thinking that this doesn’t pertain to what happened in Boston. Someone or a group deliberately placed bombs in a crowded venue where they knew people would not expect it but would be hurt and/or killed. How do you not get worked up and just go with the flow on that one? I don’t have an answer for that. I wish I did. I can’t comprehend it. I sit with the knowledge that not everyone’s brain works like mine and that even though I couldn’t imagine thinking that doing something like that was okay, there are those in the world who think differently.
But for most things in life, going with the flow and not getting worked up is so helpful. Can you think of a place in your life where this might pertain?
We started the grieving process for Jazz a few weeks ago when his health started failing. The late Elisabeth Kubler-Ross is well known for her work around death and dying, specifically the 5 stages of grief. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. According to her, these are all part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we’ve lost. They are tools to help frame and identify what we may be feeling.
They are not, however, steps on some linear timeline in grief.
Not everyone goes through all of them in a prescribed order. They are one response to loss that many people have but there is not a typical response to loss as there is not a typical loss. Our grief is as individual as our lives.
While grieving has not been well accepted in our culture, I do think there is a slow shift taking place as people are recognizing that it is important and needed for us to heal.
It is absolutely one of the best forms of self-medication we can give ourselves. To experience the loss fully, in whatever time it takes, in whatever form it takes, over and over again if needed. To go with the flow of it, and not get worked up.
Some grief we carry for a lifetime, and that’s okay. It’s part of being human. Experiencing loss helps to remind us what’s important in life and where to put our energy.
I invite you to fully grieve your losses in whatever form that may show up for you and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
So many of us think we are being “needy” when we ask for help. We’re people. We’re human. We actually do need help sometimes. But we also give to those who need help. That’s human nature too. Giving and receiving. If you don’t get the help you need from the first person you ask, ask another until you do. It’s healing.
For those of you who have lost an animal family member, you know that the love, connection, and bond go so much deeper than the spoken or written word could ever communicate. That connection is a beautiful reminder that we are all part of the same fabric, nothing is separate from anything else. Just look into the eyes of that beloved animal, and you will know.
We are grieving our dog’s loss in our own way, our own time, and the loss in Boston too.
Enjoy chasing sticks in the river and rolling around in smelly salmon carcasses Jazz… for we know that’s what you’re probably doing… going with the flow and not getting worked up about a thing.
For more information about the stages of grief, you can check out Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s website here.
Feel free to share a story about an animal friend you've lost. That can be part of the grieving process too. Join the conversation on the blog by leaving a comment below, or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am grateful to be able to spend some time with you virtually today. Thank you.
As always, take from here what works for you, share with your friends if you think they might benefit, and the rest you can leave behind.
Seeds of Kindness Bloom and Bloom and Bloom…