October 7, 2003

In the words of Charlie Brown, "good grief." (And no, I'm not starting a habit of quoting cartoon characters. I like quoting live beings, especially if they're three feet tall and carry a lightsaber.) But, I guess grief isn't good, nor bad, it just is.

Something I find amazing is that no matter how forward thinking I am, or how ethereal I am, there are all too many moments when things hit me, and I act just like everyone else. I have dealt with a number of losses in my life, human, feline, and canine. With each one, I reacted differently. The loss of those that I live with daily, seem to be the hardest to deal with, expected or not.

The loss of my brother in law was a surprise. It hurt, not as much for me, but for others that I care about. My goal was to bury and control my emotions because I needed to be the strong one. I find this is something I do too often, as I feel I need to be the strong one all too often.

When Mom passed on, it was expected, and I cried an awful lot. Here was someone that I saw every day from birth until I moved out at the age of 25. Yet, when this happened, I was living 800 miles away. When I got up to Maryland, I was back to the usual, cool, strong self. There were enough people having a hard enough time that they didn't need one more thrown in the mix.

When my first dog died (at the young age of two and a half), I was devastated. I cried for days, and just couldn't get out of the depression. I have done better over the years when pets have moved on. I was there for Murphy, and Winston, and Ursa. My daughter was there for Casper. Corky died over night at the vet. I wish I had been there for him.

Yesterday, I was there for Mandy. I'm very glad I could be. Had it been a weekend, and we had gotten up later, she might not have been alive when we found her. I was very glad to be there to help her and comfort her before she left. She had a good long life, and she is not in pain anymore. She is in a better place. I know this. So, why does it hurt so much?

The loss of a loved one (no matter what species they are), is a tremendous blow. Not only are they not there to give you love, they are not there to be loved. An emptiness appears, and is noticed most in the daily routine. This morning as I fed the dogs, I didn't feed the cat. As I got into bed last night, a cat didn't come over to say good night. I feel like I'm missing steps. That is where the pain of loss sets in, the missed step, the moment's confusion and realization of what has truly happened.

I spent most of yesterday in a funk, trying not to cry. I am happy that she got to where she was going, and that she is alright now. I know that death in this life is not the end of life. And there are those that think that knowing this, should keep me from grieving (and I may be one of them). Yet, I miss her, and that is where the grief sets in. The tears aren't for the one lost, they're for us left behind as we need to deal with the changes brought about by the loss. In a way that seems kind of selfish.

Let's be real. Funerals aren't for the dead. They're for the living. The dead don't care about the funerals. But this isn't really selfish. It gives us a focus to grieve. And grieving is something we must do. Grief is cleansing, like a catharsis in a play. But knowing (or thinking I know) how things work, will make the cleansing and recovery quicker. And I'm finding that somewhere in there, is a renewed passion to work my energy and help others. I think I will make it so.