Good grief! Is grief good? I don’t know. But it’s certainly in no short supply.
Just recently we lost someone who many consider a Houston treasure – former First Lady, Barbara Bush. While many are grief stricken over losing her, she let it be known that she was unafraid to die and would face it on her terms. Former President Bush, Sr. told people, don’t worry about us, we had a wonderful life together. And we’ll be together again. Mrs. Bush was 92 and they were married for 73 years. Did they have grief? I imagine so. But their strength helped them deal with their grief.
I work with a lot of dogs coming from BARC, our local city shelter. And some we just pull off the street. Many of them I foster. Every darn time I try not to fall in love with them, but I do. I remember them all. RJ, Salvador, Pearl, Astro, Frank, Alan Jackson, Hero, Firenze, Lola, Vera, Fritz, Skyee… just to name a few. And it never fails, every time I drop them off to transport, I feel grief. Not because I’ve done something wrong, but because something I loved with all my heart was being loaded on a van with 40 other dogs and being shipped to other states, never to be seen by me again. I know I’m doing the right thing, and yet, it feels like my heart is being ripped out. Definitely grief. Grief sucks.
I have a lot of experience with grief. Everyone does. If you don’t, you may possibly need a check up from the neck up.
What I have learned is grief is not constant. Every time I lose a dog to old age, I am so grief stricken I think to myself that I will never share my life with another dog. No way I can bear this again. Sadly, I have a lot of dogs buried in my back yard. And yet, I still have dogs. The thing about grief is while it’s fresh, it’s devastating. But in time, and with other joys entering your life, it tends to fade and become manageable. When I lose a dog, another one always seems to come along and fill my heart so much, grief is put on the back burner. I find that while always present, grief remains in the background. It’s always there, just not omnipresent. I like to think of grief as residing in a place in your mind in a little closet. You open the door, usher grief in, and close and lock the door. You know it’s there, you just don’t have to see it or feel it most of the time. And every now and again you unlock the door and face it down when necessary. It happens. It never really goes away, just gradually fades and becomes manageable. It really helps when someone or something enters your life and changes your thought process. To me, it’s fostering that next dog, knowing he or she will probably die without help. Or rescuing that pup who needs rescuing when one of my pack is called home. Sure, it’s tough, but I always power through it. I’m sure you do too. There’s really no other choice.
I’ve lost my share of people (most way too soon) and animals. I grieve and move on. I’m sure you do too. I won’t get stuck letting grief control me. I will use it to know that something better is always around the corner. Without grief there would be no joy. We have to experience both but I choose to limit one and maximize the other. It’s a choice.
Grief sucks. But is inevitable. People handle it in different ways. Some not well. I want to handle it like the Bushes. I Choose joy to replace my grief.