Grief; Healing my heart one piece at a time

Written by Amie on October 5, 2013 – 2:09 am -

my heart is on the outside of my body

My sweet doggy died unexpectedly a few days ago. My heart feels like it is broken into a million pieces. There was no warning, no time to plan a good bye. He was too young to go. But yet he did. One day he was a healthy, high energy, happy guy, the next he was gravely ill. How could this be? The grief is deep and it is raw. I grieve for him, and yet I feel I am grieving for all of the sad experiences I’ve ever been through. I feel I am grieving my brother’s death 6 1/2 years ago. I screamed when I found out my dog died, and that scream was so deep and so raw, I know I was grieving for more than my sweet dog. It feels as though my heart is on the outside of my body, as vulnerable as it can be. It doesn’t take much to send me into a heavy bout of crying. He should still be here, yet he isn’t. Wishing for something other than what is makes me suffer. But I continue to wish for things to be different. Accepting what is makes it feel too final. I’m not ready for it to feel so final. (and I ask myself, am I also still wishing for my brother to be here? I know the answer to that)

“what do I really know for certain?”

As each hour passes, I ponder the question, “what do I really know for certain?” And I keep coming back to, “not much, maybe nothing at all.” I do know love, I know it is the one constant. It is always there, even if hidden at times. I know I am breathing in this moment right now. But, in the big picture, what do I really know? Not much, maybe nothing at all. And so I keep pondering. Right when I think I know something for sure, it changes. So maybe I know nothing stays the same, everything changes. I know it is difficult to let go of those I love. It is difficult to let go of someone I thought would be around for as long as I needed. I know I relied on my dog a lot more than I realized. He brought a certain safety to my life. And he brought unconditional love. He loved me no matter how grumpy I was, he loved me even if I didn’t take him for a walk every time he wanted to go, he loved me no matter what I did. He was pure love. He showed me complete presence, he saw me for me. He felt my heart, he knew I loved him even when he stole my shoe or my peanut butter sandwich! He showed me truth. He felt my emotions and didn’t even complain when they were pretty heavy.

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Grief reminds me that I am alive and I am human

It feels as though each time I allow myself to really be with my grief, to really embody it, to really feel the pain, a piece of my heart comes back together. Each painful piece, one by one comes back to begin the process of repairing the whole. And I know from experience, once those pieces come back together, my heart will be stronger and more willing to be loving and vulnerable than it was before this sad experience. Grief is such a unique emotion. It encompasses so much. So many other emotions wrapped up in a deep energetic feeling in the body. It really opens me up to so many questions. At first it makes me question everything. Did I love my dog enough, did he know how much I loved him, why didn’t I do more, why didn’t I know something was wrong before he showed any symptoms, did I take him to the wrong place, was there something more I could have done….I went on and on. Until I realized that by focusing on this, I was distracting myself from the grief. I was distracting myself from the pain. Grief reminds me that I am alive and that I am human. There is so much emotion coursing through me, there is no question whether or not I am alive. Grief makes love feel bigger than ever, yet scarier than ever at the same time.

We just keep storing away experiences that hurt us

When I went to a grief ritual retreat a few months back, it opened my eyes to see how much we, as humans, have to grieve. We barely allow ourselves the time and space to grieve. There can be layers upon layers of unexpressed grief within one person. Generations of unexpressed grief is passed on to the next generation again and again, until people finally start allowing themselves to feel it and then begin to heal. There are times during this grief process when I feel deep grief, and I am not even sure what it is. It is a feeling deep inside my body I can’t explain, but I know for sure it is grief coming to the surface to be released. So much sadness covered by layers of protective reactions. We just keep storing away experiences that hurt us, too afraid to feel the pain. These experiences continue to store themselves in our bodies, our cells. Until we allow ourselves the time and space to really deeply feel the pain. Then the energy can be released, and our bodies begin to heal. We feel lighter each time we allow ourselves to heal.

I feel loved, nurtured and supported by those in my “tribe”

Losing my dog has been so difficult. But the one blessing shining through is that I have incredible people in my life who love me. People who are there for me and who allow me to grieve exactly as I need to. This makes this painful experience more bearable. The supportive loving people in my life have allowed me to have the process I need to have, they accept me and my feelings. Having loving people reminds me of the wonderful feeling I had at the grief retreat. I feel loved, nurtured and supported by those in my “tribe”.

in our own processes, yet still sharing the experience

In the Dagara tribe in Africa, grief is shared by all. When someone is suffering, the tribe supports them and nurtures them while they grieve. They stop what they are doing and they are present with the grieving person. This is what I loved. We didn’t tell each other, “it will be okay, it will get better, etc”. Instead, I processed my grief while there was always someone right there with me, not saying anything, just being there for me. There was not one doubt that someone was always standing behind me and had my back. We all were grieving together, in our own processes, yet still sharing the experience. There was beautiful singing the entire time, drumming, candles, and just a complete feeling of safety. I truly wish everyone could experience this, and that this would become the norm for all cultures.ย Grief is a very essential part of our existence.ย ย Being a part of this ritual was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

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Posted in Connection, Grief and dying, Healing & personal growth, Nurture yourself, Self-love | 3 Comments »

3 Comments to “Grief; Healing my heart one piece at a time”

  1. JD Snyder Says:

    I feel your grief and know that it is a huge loss to lose a family member. Animals know us sometimes better than our human family members and my sweet companions who have died are close to my heart and I cherish fond memories. May you find comfort in this time and allow the grief to manifest when it must.

  2. Amie Says:

    Thank you for your kind words. It has been a very tough time. I think because it was so sudden and unexpected, it is more difficult to let go and accept. We were so emotionally connected and he was just such a sweet dog. And I never thought I would miss his high energy level, but I do. ๐Ÿ™

  3. christofori Says:

    Woah!! Someone ELSE who writes with a style very much like i do (you know… with all these parenthetically-adorned points of clarification dispersed within/around/throughout the thoughts themselves…)! ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, i ought not forget about the tendency i also share with you… to jump to another tangent. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Kudos to you and your blog! There are several great topics and thoughtful points therein, and your suggestions/techniques aren’t just helpful — they’re also SPOT ON. Thanks for being one of the lights shining in the (otherwise) bleak darkness!

    Regarding grief — it, like all other things, is a process (as you know). Be aware so that you do not allow yourself to “edit” your grief! In other words: whenever you feel it, just feel it. Bare it as it is without attempts to minimize OR overly dwell upon it. It’s an emotion — so feel it, just don’t overthink it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ When i’ve tried masking/hiding/minimizing my own grief, AND even/especially whenever going toward the other extreme (exaggerating the feeling, or perhaps: getting “caught up” in it, rather than simply FEELING it) — the results were always the same: inevitably, my feelings of grief would snowball, combining themselves with the other [even unrelated] grievings i happened to be carrying. Feeling grief as it is (and being able to relate to ourselves with compassion throughout the process) allows us to work constructively through it all, so that we may heal…. Conversely, “editing” our grief actually can trivialize the feeling and even cause it to be illegitimate — and then, all those moments of “un-grief” pile on top of each other (some might say: become bottled up) — forcing a need to “vent” or “let off some steam” from time to time, in order to lessen the building pressure. And… though it almost goes without saying…: sometimes these “from time to time” moments occur at times which make little (or no) sense concerning the event that actually triggered the guilt (as in an example you’d mentioned, where the grief hit you much harder than you would have expected). Not to mention the “risk” we run when we’ve allowed these kinds of “fake” feelings in the first place. That being that we will have needlessly confused and compounded the issue by allowing our emotions to actually (in essence..) LIE to us..! Being true to ourselves as we feel (WHEN we’re feeling it) requires that we allow ourselves to have “honest” emotions. ๐Ÿ™‚

    All that said: sometimes grief seems harder to bare than it perhaps ought to be… However, as long as we’re not just aware of, but also authentic in how we deal with grief, we may well discover that the grieving process can actually give us strength, rather than merely being a source of pain.

    Hang in there, my sister. ๐Ÿ™‚

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