Grief Changes Us

The other day while having lunch with a friend she remarked that after the death of my dog in July, I’m “finally back”… that my vibe feels lighter and my smile has returned, and she was happy to see that. 

I thanked her, of course. Because honestly, it’s lovely to hear from your friends that they are genuinely happy for you. But I am not “back,” and I never will be. 

The person who still had a best friend, the one who was merely contemplating the impending loss of that loved one, shaking her fist at the unfairness of it all, is not the same person who now has that horrific day in her rearview, who now knows what it’s like to lose so much in just a few brief moments and know it’s never coming back.

It’s nearly 4 months since I said goodbye to my beloved Ruby Vroom, and I still struggle every day. But my friend was right, my vibe is lighter. My smile is back, that’s absolutely true. That day, and the first few weeks after, were the worst of my life. It’s all uphill from there. But my smile is back because, at least a little bit, I can think and talk about her. I can remember all the ways she made me feel loved and all the ways I made her feel loved. I remember how she looked at me, and I can remember how I looked at her too. Like this precious little buddy, my food-obsessed furry Buddha who seemed to have a better handle on the fundamentals of life than I did. 

Guru Ru

The last four months have been spent being very soft and careful with myself because that’s what Ruby would do with me. Whenever I was sad, she was there with a soft paw or a chin on my lap. She was there with a hug. I needed those hugs, so I have spent the last 4 months learning how to give them to myself. This was something I desperately needed to do. I have integrated some of the most important lessons I gleaned from Guru Ru, over the short 9 years I got with her. So no… I am not back, and I never will be. 

Before July 13, 2023, I was someone who had been loved completely by another being. But starting July 14, 2023, I needed to begin taking on that role for myself. In so doing, I am forever changed. I carry her lessons with me always, I have assimilated her love for me.

One thing I think I know now is that emotions really don’t change. Grief is grief. Happiness is happiness. One moment we’re fine, and the next moment we’re reminded of something our loved one did or said. Instantly we’re a sobbing mess, or laughing hysterically, or quiet and pensive. We have rushed up to meet those emotions which were always just kind of sitting there. 

For me, this idea has been comforting in certain ways. Because if I can meet that emotion, I can back away from it too. Or I can meet it differently, or even embrace it. Why do we have to run from our grief or sadness? What if there is something really beautiful in there to hold on to? Or even just to feel? Doesn’t it truly honor the moment, to meet it completely? And doesn’t it truly honor that loved one, to recognize every time their memory comes around, what an enormous love that really was? How deeply it impacted you?

This is why I don’t ever want to be the same again, and I don’t ever really want to be “back.” That person didn’t know what this person knows now. In spite of all the love I had for her, Ruby’s spirit was not alive inside of me like it is now. 

It is not actually possible for me to be the same. And I’m not even trying to get back to whatever that baseline is. This is me now.

Peace and love to you, wherever this message finds you.

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