“Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.” – Anne Roiphe
I am slowly remaking my life after the eternal slumber of our dog, Buster. Routines are slowly changing, the ship is righting somewhat and I feel the water underneath becoming less choppy and a little more calm. I am still grieving, and apparently I am not alone. Three (!) friends have recently had to make the same choice as I to allow their pet to cross over. I found in comforting them I felt healing and kinship, and it warmed my heart to know that Buster would have some new friends over yonder.
To help those in my situation, or really anyone who has suffered a loss, I have included an excerpt from an article that was written by Patty O’Grady, PhD, an expert in positive psychology. How could positive psychology possibly come into play after a loss? Dr. O’Grady believes, “…positive mourning is the best pathway through the crushing grief that sits on their chest and strangles their breathing.” For those that have recently experienced loss, I hope the words below help us begin to feel the weight lift and the breath to come freely again.
Grief vacillates between abiding sorrow and tiny spasms of bittersweet joy. Listening to others tell happy – even funny – stories about their lost children [or pets] brings at least moments of brief respite. Emotional grief is raw and intense. Yet, poignant and humorous remembrances can also bring intense happiness in the recollection. “The darker the night, the brighter the stars. The deeper the grief, the closer to God!” – Dostoyevsky
Engagement through Strength
The struggle to comfort, and be comforted, engenders resilience. Research finds that resilience is forged not by focusing on our own strengths only – rather by focusing on the strengths of those we have lost. We idealize, eulogize, and memorialize the talents, gifts, and virtues that they shared with us and it makes us stronger. We muster our strength to honor their legacy of love and courage. “No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” – C.S. Lewis
When grief feels like walking through a windstorm over broken glass, we must not walk alone. When others offer to help, take it. When they ask what they can do, tell them. When you feel like you will bleed to death from the heartbreak, let them patch you up and take care of you. When they offer to listen, talk to them. Learn to speak the language of grief and do not suffer grief alone. “There is no grief like the grief that does not speak.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Sometimes it is difficult to find meaning in life and it is even a greater trial to try to find it in death. Yet, when the tears stop burning, when the stomach stops retching, the soul seeks comfort in finding a purpose in the sorrow. The unholy sacrifice is transformed into holy mission. “He sought…to transform the grief that looks down into the grave by showing it the grief that looks up to the stars.” – Victor Hugo
When the valiant teachers return to their classrooms, when brave children return to their schoolyards, there is transcendence of sadness. When a father speaks of love and forgiveness, there is testimony to the goodness left behind for us to embrace. “So long as we live they too shall live and love for they are a part of us, as we remember them.” – Chaim Stern/Gates of Prayer