Her name was Brie. She was 14 years old. She was like a member of our family. She was furry and friendly and was just a mutt – part Cocker Spaniel and part Golden Retriever, but she was very special to us. We had to have her put to sleep last week and my heart still hurts. It was 9/11 — seems to make it hurt even more. It has been so much more painful than I was prepared for. I have been crying – sobbing – off and on ever since.
My chest aches. I am exhausted. More sensitive to everything. This comes on the heels of my 92 year old father’s death in February and another “rough spell” with my daughter who suffers from addictions, mental illness and cutting, among other things. I am realizing that my pain over the death of my dog is being intensified and compounded due to these other “losses”. Do you ever go through times like this? What is compounding your pain today?
One thing happens and then another and another. Our lives are filled with all kinds of losses . . . then there you are, finding yourself feeling the most recent loss so much more intensely because of all the other losses that have been piling up in your life. We don’t live in a vacuum, do we? It’s a domino effect. One thing spills down and over and tumbles into the next thing. So, what do you do?
I am giving myself permission to grieve . . . to cry whenever I need to. . . feel my emotions. . . not try to avoid them or distract myself from feeling them. I am even doing some things that help me cry – listening to certain music and looking at old photos that help me remember special times, for example.
I made a list to remind myself what refreshes me. Now I am planning those things into my week.
I am making time to have some fun. I played a card game with my husband one night last week; went to dinner with friends and then played a game together; watched a funny movie one night.
I am making time to exercise. I went out for a walk this morning. It felt so good, even though I cried after seeing a wheelchair on someone’s back patio. It reminded me of my dad. Then came the tears. I was glad no one was around.
I am making time for friends who are good listeners. They care. They ask me to talk about how I am doing. They listen and empathize. I cry. They cry with me. Just hearing myself talk and get my feelings out helps. I see that I am making progress. It hurts a little less today than it did a week ago. But I know it will take time. I have no expectations. This is complicated. I have so many different levels of grief and loss to process.
Thank you God that you are so compassionate toward me when I hurt. You are not far off. You are near. You care. You hurt with me. My pain touches you. It moves you. And you ache with every parent who is in anguish over their losses. You feel our pain.
A few Bible verses that speak to my heart on this subject are :
“. . . the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.” (Isaiah 49:13 NIV)
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves (rescues) those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalms 34:19 NIV)
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT)
Oh God, comfort and encourage each parent who is reading this with these words. When their pain is compounded by other losses in their lives, help them find their way through it. Show them what to do that will move them forward toward inner healing.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.