Hello, it's been a minute. My original intention was to write a blog post at least once a month, but inspiration hasn't struck. I'm not a fan of inauthentic things, so it doesn't feel right to write something that I'm not proud of just to throw it out there and say "Here I did it."
So good news first, inspiration has struck! Bad news, it's no where near in the way I would have liked it to.
A few weeks ago, my family's dog became ill, and while at the time we were hopeful that we would figure it out and she would make a full recovery, unfortunately that wasn't what happened. I was able to make it home to spend her last few days (and moments) with her, which I am forever grateful for, but I'm left with this giant fluffy-shaped hole in my heart.
I'm lucky enough to have had relatively few encounters with grief in my lifetime; perhaps it's a double-edged sword though, because I'm struggling with just how to process my grief. What?? A counselor who experiences emotions and struggles just like a normal person?? I know, a strange concept.
There are days when I have some peace with the decision to put her down; she was suffering, and I would do anything, even at the sake of my own selfish happiness, to keep her from that pain. Her quality of life was rapidly deteriorating, and she didn't deserve to have a slow and painful end.
However, there are days when I am just torn up inside. I miss her infectious joy and her unconditional love. I miss her begging for food, wanting to be chased instead of fetching, and most of all, her demand for tummy scratches. We had her since she was a puppy, almost 14 years, and she was as much a family member as any of the rest of us.
How I feel depends on the day, or sometimes even the hour. If you'll indulge me to quote John Green (yes, I know), "That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt." Grief SUCKS. It doesn't matter the time or place or whatever else you have going on in your life. When grief hits, oh boy does it hit. No amount of numbing or distraction or denial makes it go away.
On particularly rough days, my brain hits me with all of the "shoulds:"
"I shouldn't still be feeling this way. It's about time that I made peace with it and got over it."
"Everyone else is judging me for being this upset. You should hide how you feel so as not to bring other people down."
Or the one that hurts the most, when I feel a moment or two of peace or happiness:
"You shouldn't feel happy. You made this awful decision and deserve to feel awful."
So why am I sharing all of this? Well partially, selfishly, it's because it helps me to process through my own feelings and experiences. If I say them out loud, it makes them more real.
But ultimately, what I hope you take away from this, is that it's okay to not have it all figured out. There will be moments in life that absolutely shake you to your core, and whatever feelings you experience are perfectly okay. There is no "right" way to grieve, and my journey will look different than everyone else's, even my family members who experienced the same event as me.
Feelings that suck to feel don't just disappear; they demand to be acknowledged and felt. So instead of shaming myself for feeling the way that I feel, perhaps a kinder way is to honor my feelings when they arise and to allow them to leave when it is their time. When I am sad, I'm gonna cry and take the time that I need to just hold space for myself. Also importantly, when I'm happy, I can allow myself to feel that as well, and not push it away for some punishment that I don't deserve.
Whether or not you're currently experiencing grief or sadness or confusion, please know that your experience is valid. And it won't last forever.
And as always, remember to be kind to yourself.