I’ve been given the opportunity to experience and reflect on many different forms of grief lately. I’d like to say that I learned a lot, but I don’t know if I’m at the point of learning quite yet. What I can say for sure is that I don’t think grief is ever the same. I mean that in a few ways. First, I think no two people grieve the same way. There will be similarities, sure, but in the same way that no two people can ever read the same book, grief is in the eye of the griever. I also mean that I don’t think people ever grieve different losses the same. Even when comparing two losses which are apparently very similar, an individual will approach them differently no matter how long it has been between the two, sort of like when you read a book multiple times but you take different things from it with each reading.
Grieving the loss of Dog the Elder has been unique because I didn’t feel her loss immediately. At first I was extremely concentrated on how she wasn’t there to struggle with the stairs or the heat. I thought about how to care for Dog the Younger and how to help her make the transition. I cared for Cat. I was sad, of course, and I expressed it, but it was just that: sadness. Picking up her ashes was my first encounter with grief for her. When the ashes were brought to me, I literally hugged them. I didn’t want to let go. She was my first baby, my best good girl, and I was irrationally attached to the bag containing the box of her remains.
Although I got better about that particular item, my grief still comes in waves, and they can be enormous. Last night I could not stop thinking of her and missing her. I was desperate for her face, her, to quote a friend, ramen noodle fur. I needed her eyes on me. I was, thankfully quite briefly, inconsolable. And then I was ok again. Now, as I write this, I wonder why I was so overwhelmed with my grief and can think of her with a smile and comfort in knowing we did the right thing. Not even ten hours have passed, and I’m completely fine.
I have a lot to explore with grief. I’m not entirely sure I understand it and I strangely look forward to what I can learn.