On Grief and Losing a Loved One
A very special client emailed me today letting me know her dog had recently passed. Even though she had lost several dogs before, she was really struggling with this particular loss and asked if I had any words of wisdom for her that might help her through it. Because she found my reply helpful, I thought I’d share it here, too.
Having been through several tremendous losses in the recent past myself, I very much understand grief and what it takes to move through it in a healthy way. Maybe my thoughts will help you, too. (Note: I’ve edited down my response below to remove any personal information.)
Grief is a horrible beast no matter how you look at it.
What I would offer is to be willing to feel all the feelings, don’t suppress them. You have to feel it to heal it, as they say. And there are no shortcuts around those feelings. If you don’t process them they will get stuck in your body and manifest themselves in less than healthy ways physically, emotionally or behaviourally, so it’s important to sit with them, as awful and uncomfortable as they feel, and allow them the space to be there.
Sometimes the grief is more intense because of the nature of the relationship you had or the time in your life of the loss or even that it subconsciously reminds you of something from your past that you may not even be aware of. But either way, it’s giving you the opportunity to heal.
There is no easy way to move through grief other than allowing it to run its course, crying when you feel the urge to, raging when you feel the urge to, screaming at the universe about the unfairness of it all when you feel the urge to. But forgive yourself for any perception of wrongdoing [in her passing] because I know you as much as any other dedicated dog owner would have done everything the best way you could for her at the time.
If you’re going through a loss right now, know that my heart is with you. And please remember to surround yourself with people willing to sit with you and support you in your grief, not ones who encourage you to pretend it’s not a big deal or try to get you to ‘get over it’ and be happy. Take time for yourself, nurture yourself and, when you finally experience a moment of happiness or peace, revel in it, even if it’s only fleeting, and trust that as time goes by, there will be more and more of those along the way.