It occurred to me this week that I need to write about my journey with grief. Losing Ruby, my beloved dog, in January was devastating and I was to begin a journey I had not signed to take.
Years ago, I read somewhere (probably on Dear Abby) that when you greet someone who has lost someone not to say "I know how you feel" because you don't. You have not had their experiences nor was this your loss, so you may have some empathy, but you will never know how someone else feels.
I remembered that and have learned to say things like "you are in my thoughts and prayers" or "if there is anything I can do to help you, please let me know." Then I lost Ruby and got to experience how others try to make you feel better.
I was held in loving arms, allowed to cry and tell my stories about Ruby to my dearest friends. It helped tremendously. Then came the others. I know people were trying to make me feel better, but it was not working. I was barraged with stories about how losing their dog was so awful that I was lucky. I was asked questions about what they should do with their aging dog who was suffering with countless maladies. And my favorite, I know how your feel. Really, No You Don't!
Finally, a very kind woman stepped in and helped me to sort through it all. The pain was overwhelming and the grief was so heavy I did not want to leave my home. What this woman told me still rings true and saved me. She told me that Grief is a really big emotion and carries itself around in a really big bucket. Into that bucket can fall all the pain, sorrow, unhappiness or any other negative emotion. Once they are all in the bucket, they join together and become one and it becomes almost impossible to deal with it.
She told me that it was okay to be sad for losing Ruby and when that happens just to pay attention and not let any other sadness rush in to take a spot in line. What happened was that when I got sad about Ruby, as long as I was aware, I grieved and then moved on.
When I was not paying attention, I would become overwhelmed with all the problems, real or imagined and become paralyzed.
What a wonderful gift. I have been using it for anything that comes up now. What emotion am I feeling and what is it attached to? Makes for a more healthy approach and a much happier me!