I’m am afraid of grief. As a believer in Christ and heaven, the idea of being fearful of those around me dying should not be present in my head space. However, it terrifies me. I think about it all the time. As Brené Brown would say, I dress rehearse tragedy often. I pick up the phone to call my husband and he doesn’t answer; my immediate thought is that something tragic has happened. My mom calls me twice in a row, I instantly think my grandma has passed away.
Earlier this year, my dog Howard passed away suddenly. Howard loved to chase squirrels and unfortunately, landed on his legs wrong and completely lost the ability to move the lower half of his body. He was suffering greatly for about a month, so my husband and I made the really hard decision to put him down. It was the first experience with death that I’ve ever had.
It absolutely wrecked me.
I know that losing a pet in no way compares to the loss of a parent, or a spouse, or a child. But the way Howie’s death affected me, allowed me to have so much respect for those of you that have suffered from great loss. I honestly don’t know how you have done it, but know that I see you. I see your bravery and resilience and I admire you so much.
The sudden loss of Howie forced me to study grief. Which is something that I have avoided for the last 27 years of my life, until God put it right in front of me. I know in my heart that there was meaning and purpose in his death. His passing was my only experience of death. If I didn’t lose him, I wouldn’t have taken the time to study grief and how to navigate those emotions.
The five stages of grief are:
My grieving process mirrored similar stages. I became incredible angry at the fact that he died for no reason. I woke up in the middle of the night and sobbed because I had gotten so used to his presence. A great friend of mine asked me, “What is the good here that you’re not seeing?” I forced myself to see the good and cherish the three years I had with him. I forced myself to have gratitude – that this little creature could provide so much comfort and companionship; which is why losing him was so hard.
While I was experiencing grief, I was able to clearly see the grief of others all around me. As a nation, we experienced the sudden death of Kobe and GiGi Bryant. Watching Vanessa Bryant provide a speech at his memorial with such grace and courage was incredibly moving. Shortly after, a close family friend of mine lost his wife of over 20 years. For the first time in my life, I was able to respect grief. I was able to face it head on and not run away from it. I know that there is a 100% chance that I will die and the people that I love around me will die.
Acknowledging that death is inevitable required me to adjust my perspective and find peace in knowing that God has ordered my every step. It also heightened my awareness for the beauty of life. We don’t know how much time we have here on this earth. In a moment everything can change. So how are you living? How are you loving?
Today, my encouragement for you is to find gratitude even in the hardest moments. In the difficult moments that we don’t understand, I challenge you to allow yourself to sit back and ask, “What is the good here that I am not seeing?”
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Remember always – YOU ARE WORTHY.
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