Thursday, November 15, 2012

Does grief have an expiration date?

   As a kid my family had many pets. Dogs, cats, rabbits, hamster ... well you get the idea. We were (are) an animal loving family. I don't actually remember having to say good-bye to any of them other then Denver, my beloved hamster. Maybe my parents spared me the pain. Maybe as a kid I didn't understand the concept of death. Or choose to ignore it. 

   I lost my dog Bruce to a ruptured tumor last week. It was sudden and fast. With in an hour of taking him to the vet he was gone. Just 24 hours ago I could not even think about him, let alone write about him without having a complete meltdown. The kind that makes your insides come to the surface and want to leap out of your body. For the last 10 days I've ignored my family and friends. I barely left the house let alone my bed. I just wanted to wallow in the pain. The pain that nobody could ever understand. It was all mine. And only I could feel it. I honestly believed that. I have since wised up. 

   Bruce was the first dog I had as an adult. I got him at  6 months and he left me at 10 years old. The pain I felt rivals nothing I've ever felt before. I've said it before but I'll say it again. I've lost family and friends but the loss of a beloved pet is a different pain. Neither loss is better or worse, but it is different. 

Now I'm dealing with the guilt. The guilt of not grieving. The guilt of not losing my shit every time I think of him. The guilt of being able to walk past a picture of him with out falling to my knees (literally) and sobbing. The guilt of being able to talk to others about how much joy he brought to my life without stopping in mid sentence and choking up. 

   As humans we have an incredible resilience system in place. We lose, we grieve, we move on. The point between grieving and moving on is different for all of us. But we eventually do move on. Can you imagine holding on to all our loses for our entire lives. Every loss we suffered chipping away at our hearts until it was impossible to get out of bed. Impossible to face another day? This is what makes it possible for me to write this tribute to the Almighty Bruce. 

   And the tears come, hallelujah ! What little guilt that was left is now lifted.

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