Posts Tagged ‘death


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.


sissy grief

sissy griefLoss is loss, right?  So why do we as a society put expectations on how each gender should or should not grieve?

As time passes, I feel badly for my husband because he truly has not had much time to grieve.  He immediately had to go back to work the next week where it’s not exactly appropriate to be weeping constantly.  In addition, he just started participating in a carpool so even the time he previously had to and from work is monopolized.  And because he works later I am always home before him.  There is no time.

But in addition to that, I see how people treat us differently when we share the loss with them.  It seems totally acceptable that I should cry and even struggle focusing or with some depression.  But many look to my husband to be strong and hold it together.  He himself has even expressed his concerns about me and wanting to meet my needs.  On countless occasions he has assured me to take all the time I need and feel free to express my emotions.  But I want to be there for him too.  I want to meet his needs through this process; after all, we’re in this together.

So why does society place these expectations on us according to our gender?  Why do we put this on ourselves?  Do men not feel loss as deeply as women?  NO!  Are women incapable of supporting their husband should they get emotional?  NO!  Why do we just tell ourselves and each other to suck it up and move on?  Is this a sign of weakness?  And if that is the case, do we want to live in a world where we emotionally isolate ourselves from one another so that we never feel the pain of loss?

Time heals all wounds.  But if we’re not exposing them to the open air, how will we ever breathe freely again?


lonely but not alone

lonely  but not aloneWhen we think of loss we remind ourselves and each other that we are not alone.  For me, this did not bring comfort, for no one else could hope to fill the emptiness which one unique creature had fulfilled.  However, that is not what the phrase in this instance means to implicate.  I soon learned this over the past two days.

The day after my dog’s death we ran into a coworker of my husband’s whose dog was having health issues.  He offered us his condolences and support.  Little did he know that only three days later his wife would have to say good bye to their dog while he was away on business.  It was then that he turned to us for comfort and we opened our understanding hearts to him.

Then, just today, a professor came to class weeping.  She had shared previously that she had a pet with a heart condition.  My instincts told me that these tears were related to this information.  I met her in the hall and she confirmed this inclination.  We cried together as we shared the pain of helplessly watching our loved ones suffer and dreading their loss.

In this short time I found that I was not alone.  I will forever be lonely for my Sam, but I will find strength in sharing her memory with those that have experienced an irreplaceable loss.  And together we will emerge from our grief.


here and now

here and nowToday was a day for new perspective.  My husband and I broke free of some long engaging battles with our past, present and future.  With all that has occurred within the past year with my husband’s accident and long term recovery along with our dog’s return of cancer looming in the future, we’ve learned the great value of living in the here and now.  However, we still found the here and now being influenced and shadowed by the there, before and after.  But today, the here and now, changed all that.

This morning we had a check-up visit at the veterinarian’s office for our dog Sam.  About a couple of months ago we felt a lump on her chest and kept an eye on it, anticipating that it may be the cancer returning.  It seemed to grow larger so we scheduled an appointment, expecting the worst.  In the interim, we both became depressed and began to grieve her, though she was still with us.  All of the horrible news we prepared ourselves to receive did not come to fruition.  In fact, the whole experience was the complete opposite of what we imagined.  They found the tumor to be most likely a common fatty tumor which dogs get as they age.  Her examination did not reveal anything which led the doctor to believe the cancer had returned.  And beyond all belief, the doctor even suggested that she may be within the 5% of cases in which the amputation of the infected limb provides a cure.

This great ray of hope was sorely needed in a most dark period of our lives.  It may or may not be true or come true, but having not dared to hope before, it brought much needed relief and gave us permission to stop mourning prematurely.  In addition, as my husband and I discussed the visit, we realized that we longed to celebrate her life and accept that the time she has with us is what she needs and she will let go when she decides.  This too released us from the burden of making a life choice for her.

Later this evening, my husband and I went to see a movie – “Her.”  It further jarred and stirred our souls and the struggles we’ve been having all year.  We began to fall into an old pattern of blaming and scolding ourselves for being overly responsible, not strong enough and wanting to wake up with selective amnesia.  But at one moment I just stopped.  I felt impelled too turn the conversation around and said that we can’t keep allowing our past to rule and punish us because every part of it makes us who we are today and we have come so far and overcome a great deal of which we can be proud.  In addition, we can’t live for the future because we must trust that it will come and in the interim, we have so much to do now before it comes.  All of these realizations finally freed us from our past and future and enabled us to be excited and truly live in the now.

What an amazing day!  A day that will soon be part of our past, but will forever influence our future and help us to live in the present – here and now.


finding life in the face of death

finding life in the face of death“Better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.”  Ever find yourself questioning that?

I woke up this morning from a horrible nightmare – my dog dying.  Of course when I woke up she was there lying on the bed peacefully asleep.  Not for long.  I soon grabbed her and began sobbing all over her.  After she got freaked out by this rude awakening, I went into the other room and got angry.  What is the point of all this?  To love and to lose?  What is the lesson we are to learn from our dog slowly dying of cancer?

Don’t take love for granted.  I understand that.  I have been trying to put it into practice.  Seizing the day so to speak with my love and care for her.  We’re going to take a little trip together next week to celebrate her life.  But all of this doesn’t make the loss any less painful.  In fact, it makes it even more difficult.  In many ways I feel like a part of me has already died knowing I’m going to lose her – dreading the day when I have to come home to an empty house.

But I know I wouldn’t be the same person without her in my life for the past ten years.  She’s taught me so much about living life  – being joyful and carefree in the moment.  Patience, loyalty, overcoming, courage and spirit.  And especially having fun.  All of these things I would not have gained had I not known her.  And yet I am to lose them all.  Yes, she’ll be in my heart, but right now that feels like such a line of #!?&

I don’t want to grieve her while she is still here, but how does one separate oneself from the inevitable?  I suppose we could all go through our lives anticipating the loss of everything that we have as we will all return to the earth.  However, I am fully aware that that is not living.  So is that the meaning of all this – to understand what it means to truly live?  Is there any meaning to it?  How does one celebrate life in the face of death?