Grief: A noun defined by dictionary.com as “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow.”
It is a debilitating emotion we feel when we experience devastating loss in our lives, such as loss incurred through the death of someone close to us. Grief has even been the subject of many psychological studies. I personally had to learn the five stages of grief in my psychology course during nursing school. The stages are as follows: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. And as people grieve differently, one may not go through each and every one of these stages, nor may one experience them in this exact order. Regardless, grief is a process, and it is something that each of us will experience at one time or another when we face the death of a loved one.
The Loss of a Pet
One of our beloved dogs died yesterday. Quite suddenly, in fact. She had gotten sick less than 24 hours prior to her death. Which almost makes losing her so much harder, since we didn’t even have time to prepare for this immense loss of our family member. She was certainly part of our family. If you know anything about my family, you know that we deeply love our animals, and especially our canine fur babies. And our sweet Lucy girl, while one of four dogs we own, definitely held her very own special place in each of our hearts.
Right now, the wound in my soul is so fresh, and my heart feels broken into a million little pieces, just like shattered glass all over the ground. I held her tiny little body in my lap as I sat on our cold living room floor, and I let my sorrow-filled tears fall like heavy rain onto her lifeless body.
My two children sat beside me, both crying along with me, and my husband just stood over us in silence; he knew there were no words he could say in this devastating moment that would ease the pain we were all experiencing. The loss of Lucy was fresh, it was debilitating, and we needed to just let our tears fall and our emotions overflow as we said goodbye to our baby girl.
The Grieving Process
This morning we woke up, and while my kids seem mostly okay with the loss, mentioning her every now and then but no longer crying hysterically, I have lost myself in a tearful fit quite a few times today. I have entered the grief process. Indeed it is a process that I will go through over the next few weeks as I think of her randomly and as the pleasant memories of her come into my mind at different times throughout the day. But experiencing this loss, and this kind of grief, I can’t help but think of grief a bit differently than that of psychology’s teachings of the five stages.
You see, the soul-crushing emotions I am feeling right now, and the utter brokenness I feel in my heart as it beats in my chest, cause me to picture grief in a different way. I am led into this imagery of a small hole in my heart and in my soul. A hole that used to be filled with the “love spot” I had for my sweet Lucy. And with her death, that spot left my heart and my soul, and it has been left vacant. A black chasm of emptiness is there in her spot’s place. And slowly coming in to backfill this spot is that grief that I am just beginning to experience over losing Lucy.
While feeling this grief hurts like hell, and brings my emotions to the surface, and causes many large, wet tears to fall, this grief comes with a purpose. You see, this grief, this process that I will go through in the coming weeks, will slowly heal up the hole in my heart. Slowly but surely, this hole will indeed repair itself as I navigate through the grief. My heart and soul will be healed with time, though left in the hole’s place will definitely be a scar. And this scar will live in my heart and soul just as a scar lives on the skin. We may not always be thinking directly about this scar, but it is there always, serving as a reminder of the wound that was once in that spot and so very painful. And fortunately, grief comes, and while it is extremely agonizing to experience this grief, in the end, it actually serves a very positive purpose in healing us.
Right now “Lucy’s spot” is still an empty hole in my heart, for grief has just now come upon my soul to do its good work in repairing me. It’s going to hurt a lot as I grieve the loss of my sweet girl, just as a wound on the skin is painful as it also heals. But in the end, grief will serve its purpose and reconstruct the hole in my heart. And the presence of this scar will also never ever let me forget my baby girl, and how blessed we were to have her in our lives.