Learning to carry loss

Learning to carry loss

I have cried a lot over the last 72 hours since we got the diagnosis. I had to say goodbye quickly before we left for a week-long getaway. Misha has been family for more than 13 years, and brought endless joy to me and my daughters over the years. Still the number of tears I’ve shed over her diagnosis and passing has surprised me.

I’ve cried more than I did when my soul dog, Jackson, passed away two years ago. More than when my dear friend died from leukemia. More than when my fiancé nearly died from a cancerous tumor that perforated his intestine. More than when my own father passed away after a long journey with cancer and the after effects of treatment. 

It’s not that it’s harder to lose my husky than it is to lose my father or my friend. It’s something deeper. Almost all of these losses have happened in the last year. Add on the pandemic and the loss of two more vacations, not seeing my daughters and grandchildren during the initial lockdown, not going to a restaurant or coffee shop (and sitting inside!), not hugging my friends, and the loss of going about normal life without a mask. 

Some big losses, and a lot of little ones. My heart feels so tender.

Each of us has experienced many losses over the course of a lifetime. Loss of jobs, relationships, dreams, and loved ones. Each time you experience a loss it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Each loss touches every loss you have experienced before. 

We are taught that we should “get over” a loss. After a certain period of time, we shouldn’t feel it anymore. But none of us can truly get over loss. The pain, the hurt, the empty place where something or someone you loved once resided in your heart and in your life, they change us. Trying to get over it, stuffing the sorrow so you won’t have to feel it anymore only makes it worse.

Sorrow may change with time, but it doesn’t fully go away. Each loss, each sorrow, stays with us.

Grace is learning to carry sorrow with us all the time. Learning to live and laugh and dance and die all with the sorrow still inside. 

As I say goodbye to my precious dog, I practice being okay with the sorrow. I practice allowing the tears to flow, allowing this to touch every other sorrow I’ve ever experienced, as they are woven together in the tapestry of my life. Allowing myself to feel the pain as well as the joy in life opens me up even more deeply to life, to love, to God, to the world.