Archive for the 'mourning' Category


Let’s get busy!

let's get busyMake any New Year’s resolutions?  I did.  Actually, I’ve been thinking of it for quite some time and began it with my last post made in December.  “What was it?” you may ask.  It was to get busy!

The book and motion picture “Wild,” has been getting a lot of attention.   Society’s response to a strong female and her journey through grief to self-discovery has been encouraging.  It’s also been an awakening to the media for the need for more pivotal female roles on the page, stage and screen.  During a radio interview with Reese Witherspoon, the star and producer of the film adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s book, “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” Witherspoon referenced the lack of complex roles for women and responded by not only saying, but putting into action her comment:  “…nobody is doing this work.  I might as well get busy and do it myself.”

Obviously we don’t all have the resources like Witherspoon, but we do share the same perspective.  As a result, instead of expecting others to address the needs which have already been identified, I have decided to join Witherspoon and “get busy.”  What does this mean?  I believe that in each of our lives in our own way, we can make a difference to bring about change for gender equality.  From standing up for ourselves or others when confronted by sexism or working to make more opportunities for women available, we all contribute to society’s transformation.  No action is too small, so we must not minimize our efforts.  It’s changing our very way of thinking as a community; embracing our egalitarianism.

Awareness, education and recognition are vital.  However, without following that up with action in our daily lives, our society tends to find contentment with labeling gender discrimination as simply one of many issues which need addressing.  “Issues” tend not to have the same concern as crisis.  Why is it not a national crisis that women do not receive equal pay for equal work?  Why is it not a global crisis that women are surrounded and trapped by violence, rape and sex trafficking?  When perceived as an issue, it weakens the urgency of our condition.   This is nothing less than a crisis which demands action.

So let’s get busy!

Read interview with Reese Witherspoon


Support women artists by buying the book “Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed and see the movie.


telling the truth

telling the truthWhy do we always have to tell the truth?

I felt like I had a bit of a new start today.  For the first time in months I exercised.  In addition, I had to do something to make up for forgetting about it yesterday that took extra time, and I didn’t berate myself about it.  I didn’t even really get upset.  This is huge progress for me.

The energy was rolling right along and then I get slammed with reality; I’m never going to see my dog again.  Bringing home her ashes this week just made everything so final.  Somehow before I could pretend that it didn’t really happen, but now there’s closure.  It’s strange how it’s healthy and considered good to have closure in everything else except this.

I don’t want to accept the truth.  Do I have to?  What says that I can’t make my own reality?  That I couldn’t go on choosing to believe that my dog went to live somewhere else?  That she’s still alive somewhere out there?  After all, do we ever really know reality or just what we perceive to be reality?  What’s so freeing about the truth in this case?

This is difficult for me to say because I am a firm believer in the truth setting one free, but why does one have to accept it in circumstances where a “lie” doesn’t hurt anyone and in fact protects oneself from further pain?  It’s not that you are necessarily denying the truth, but you just choose to believe something different and live in a way that reflects that choice.  And if this helps you heal and find greater joy in life, why not?  Or will the truth always come back to bite you in the butt?

I know the truth.  But I don’t have to tell it.  Especially to myself.


coming home

coming homToday our beloved dog Sam came home.

We went to the vet’s to pick up her remains and had a therapeutic talk with the veterinarian who helped her through these last years.  He affirmed our decision and reminded us of the additional six months of happy, healthy life we gave her after the amputation.  We released her from the pain of the cancer’s return, and that was a gift.

It’s strange the things that speak comfort to us in our grief.  I had been so focused on her death and the fact that her life was cut short because I still have so much life yet to life that I didn’t recognize the good, long life she had.  The vet told us that in human years, she was a 65-70 year old person who lived a quality life.  This really put things in a different perspective for me and forced me to consider that the time she had was both qualitative and quantitative.

Somehow the house seems more complete now that she is here again with us.  Her remains are in a beautiful wooden box with a gold lock and key and a wooden heart in front of it with her name.  She always possessed the keys to our heart and now we have the key to hers.  Now we can watch over and take care of her in our own way.  We hope to release her ashes into the ocean, but are not ready yet to let her go.

Closure is usually a healthy thing, but in this case it is very painful.  There is something so final in receiving her ashes.  As I said to my husband, knowing that her spirit is still with us does not yet console the loss of her physical body because our relationship was so physical – petting, hugging, playing, walking, feeding – all those things every day for over ten years.  She had the strongest, most beautiful and loving spirit of any creature I’ve known and I know that in time, I will feel that she truly will come home in my heart.


a winner in the midst of losing

winning in the midst of losingCelebrating life.

I feel like I took a turn today.  The painful sting of those last days has begun to lessen in comparison to the joy which was Sam’s life.  No longer am I saddened when I see the sidewalks we walked together or the empty spot where her bed used to be.  A certain heaviness still lingers, but now I want to see her everywhere I look because I’m not ready to let go…and perhaps I never will be.

Gratitude is replacing grief, ever so slowly.  Inch by inch, my heart is filling up with all of the memories of what we had the privilege to share together.  How she shaped my life and was like my angel in the house.   For eleven years we spent almost every day together-cuddling, exercising, eating, playing or sleeping.  Whatever it was, we were together and that’s what mattered.

As I drove by PetSmart today I saw a man pick up his large dog who seemed frightened of the rain and carry him to his car.  The dog was a soft, fluffy, teddy bear looking dog who seemed completely at ease and content in his owner’s arms.  A week ago that would have made me cry, but today it brought joy to my heart to see someone else share the kind of love I had with Sam.

I can remember how she used to settle for nothing less than our complete attention.  If we were reading a book or on our computers she would thrust her whole head on top of whatever was in our laps or just subtly start licking it.  One couldn’t help but admire her persistence because unless you moved the object it would end up soggy, full of her hair or malfunctioning.  She always won; but you never felt like the loser.

So how can I feel like a loser now?  Sure I’ve lost something, but I have already won just by knowing her.


the ending of things

the ending of thingsHow does one remember without pain and yet try not to forget?

Got out today in a more social environment.  It was nothing deep; just a shallow trip with some acquaintances to the pier.  The ocean breathed some life back into me, but still reminded me of our last trip together to San Diego which triggered some heartache.  Sunshine continues to work hard to uplift my spirits.  Mornings and evenings are the most difficult to keep the chin up.

Certain tasks demanding focus take longer.  Frankly, I just don’t care about much right now.  As much as I’d like to think of her life and be grateful for the wonderful memories, I can’t stop thinking about the ending of things.  I wanted more time; perhaps I expected too much time.  After all, a dog’s life span is not long in comparison with a human.  But one doesn’t consider that when they fall in love.

So for now I just need to go through the motions.  I told my girlfriend that I indulge in my emotions and mid-morning or afternoon naps, but that I know my boundaries and when it is time to kick my butt out of bed and out of the house.  There are so many other wonderful things happening in my life right now and I don’t want to miss them.  I can’t give my heart to anything else fully yet.  And I guess that is alright.  I’m used to giving myself 100% to everything I do, but in this case I don’t have that to offer to anything or anyone right now.

I know that in time I’ll be able to remember without the sting of pain and see her whole life as a beautiful gift.  Right now I still feel robbed and can’t risk not thinking of her in fear of forgetting every minute detail of her behavior, appearance, smell and voice.  More and more though, I am sure that as she healed me with her touch and gentle spirit in life, death will not stop her from bringing me peace once more.  Her story has not ended for it will forever live in me.



mystery grief

mystery griefGrief is gradual, immediate and mysterious.  It can also take one completely off guard.

My husband and I had different relationships with Sam; we showed our love to her in specific ways.  His was more of a playmate and mine a nurturer.  Towards the end, even when we had her leg amputated, her relationship with my husband changed drastically.  No longer could she run to him or chase the ball or him.  She slowed down immensely which caused us to adapt to her new condition.

For me, this transition went easier because a lot of my interaction with her was based on caretaking and affection.  To put it bluntly, I always gushed over her and now I had an excuse to do it even more.  If it were up to me she would have had all her meals and water in the comfort of her bed.  Her dependency increased until we were helping her with most everything – even standing up.  The drastic change from having her need me so utterly and completely to being left alone has affected me deeply.

I realized it today as I was folding some towels and thought that I’ll never get to give her a bath or dry her after being out in the rain.  That started an avalanche of “never agains” which led me to crawl back under the covers and stay there until mid-morning.  Later I forced myself to get out and do some therapeutic shopping.  I came home and she still wasn’t there.

What makes this loss most difficult is that I cannot look to anyone, including my husband to fill it.  I cannot expect him to need or depend on me as she did.  Yes, we can look to one another for comfort and additional affection, but no one can fulfill the role she played in my life.  Perhaps I’ll learn to live without that aspect in my life or maybe I’ll find a different way to cope.  All I know now is that I’ll never know anyone else like her; and because of that I am so grateful that she was in my life, even for a short time.


Not gone. Just no longer here.

not gone. just no longer here.One week.  That’s how long it’s been since we said goodbye.  But it feels more like a year.

My husband said it so well when he explained that Sam is not gone, she’s just no longer here.  That’s exactly how I feel.  I can’t accept that I will never see or touch her again.  It just won’t compute in my brain or heart yet.  And maybe it never will.  But I am keenly aware of the emptiness I feel.  Here’s a bit from my journal:

How does one see, hear, feel, or smell emptiness?  Let me tell you.  There’s a persistent ache in one’s chest which penetrates to the back and then travels down the spine affecting the limbs.  It makes all movements heavy and exhausting.  The nerves of your fingertips are numb yet hungry.  Reaching out for something that is no longer available to you.  Forever grasping but never touching.  Breathing becomes a chore as your chests forces itself up and down against the invisible force pushing down on you.

Then there’s the vacant space that is constantly surrounding you, reminding you that you are alone.  It too presses in on you, almost suffocating the air.  You fool yourself into hearing things or even seeing things; the shape of a discarded shirt lying on the floor plays tricks on your eyes.  A small creak or moan wakes you up from a trance.  Could it be?  No.  No it is not and never will be again.

But the smell.  The smell lasts the longest.  It lingers in every article you touch and you inhale it as if you are trying to embrace and swallow the very soul of another.  But that other is not there.  The smell is not satisfying because it is vacant; stale, second hand.  Its origin far away, forever dissipating until it is dispersed throughout the universe – diluted beyond memory.  Soon you hold on to the emptiness because that is all you have and it reminds you of the time that it wasn’t empty.

I want to keep her alive but I can’t trust my senses to do that.  I simply choose to believe that she is not gone, she is just no longer here.