May is mental health awareness month, and before the month is over I want to open up about something that’s not often spoken about but I think is so important: normalizing grief.
I want to share about a recent loss of mine because I think it’s important to start a conversation about how we can support ourselves AND each other in times of grief.
At some point in our lives, we all must deal with grief and loss. It’s a milestone that no one can escape, no matter how much we try to protect ourselves. It’s also a part of life that not many people talk about because frankly, many of us don’t know what to say. Also, when it happens to us, we often don’t have the tools to handle it in a healthy way.
I came across this firsthand just a few weeks ago when I lost my beloved pup, Bogey. To any who would say that he was “just an animal”, I can tell you firsthand that our animals can be our greatest teachers, our most loving and supportive companions, and yes, our best friends.
My sweet angel, Bogey passed peacefully after 13.5 years of giving and receiving devoted and unconditional love. His desire to offer love and loyalty had no attachment to this physical/material world. He just gave and received love wholeheartedly because that is what he was born to do.
I think the greatest lesson he taught me was that of how to be wholly and truly present in the moment.
Animals have no agenda other than filling their simple needs and giving unconditional love. Isn’t that the most beautiful, amazing lesson?
When I lost Bogey, I was hit by a tidal wave of grief that felt surprisingly physical and all-consuming. I had never experienced anything like it, so I reached out to a couple of people in my life who have gone through great personal losses of family members, loved ones, and yes, animals.
The best advice I got was: give yourself permission to feel anything and everything at any given moment. Do not judge yourself for what you need or do. If you need to cry on the bathroom floor, go do that. If you need alone time, cancel your plans. If you need to get out your nervous energy, go walk around the block seven times with no agenda. If you need support, call someone to come over. Paying attention to your body and giving it whatever it needs in the present moment is the best way to move through grief.
Isn’t it amazing how the exact lesson Bogey taught me about staying in the present is the exact one I needed to get through his loss?
Sometimes I would sit on the floor, rub Bogey’s ears while looking him in the eyes and tell him how much I loved him. He would NEVER break eye contact. It was uncanny, really. The energy he always offered was, “I'm here with you Mom, I see you and I want to be near you...always”. I'm gonna miss that energy SO MUCH.
What gives me some comfort is knowing that what he offered was energy...the energy of unconditional love and presence. And even though his precious little fur body is gone forever, I can still experience that energy by offering it to the world.
So if you’re dealing with loss or grief, I’m here to ride the waves with you. You are not alone, and neither am I.
Grief is part of life and we can get through it together, moment by moment, day by day. And then one day, the light breaks through and we begin to heal.
Thank you for showing me how it's done my Bogey Bear. I will do my best do embody what you taught me. I will miss you forever my precious one. Fly with the angels and come visit me in my dreams. RIP 11.1.05--4.23.18