So raw. So final. So cutting. So lonely.
Grief hangs in a heavy thick fog around me.
The thing about grieving a pet is that some people don’t understand it. They minimise it. Their words (or lack of them) seem to imply: It’s only a cat. Get over it.
My Luka was my constant for 11 and a half years. And a lot has happened in those years. I met my husband, I had leukaemia, I had kids. He was there through it all. Every single day. I touched him and cuddled him more than most humans. His unconditional acceptance of me surpasses human love. With him goes a huge chapter of my history. And a huge chunk of my heart.
The thing about grief is that it’s big and scary. Not just for the person experiencing it. It can be unbearable for others to watch. So they tip-toe past you.
There’s an ailment out there. It’s called ’emotion-phobia’. It plagues society. A symptom of our disconnectedness. If someone feels something deep and intense – and heaven forbid they express that – then up goes that big wall of fear.
Ignoring people is one symptom. The other is saying things that are completely insensitive. I do understand we are limited by the amount of emotional nurture we ourselves are given. But some words feel inexcusable.
I have a list of things in my head that I would love to rattle off. A list of things to NOT say to a person in grief. Because this week I think I have heard them all.
The statements I received have ranged from trite cliches to patronising instructions about how to handle myself. Statements that you wouldn’t say to anyone who’d lost a human. Statements that implied my grief was inconvenient.
As if the actual grief wasn’t insulting enough.
In my world, I make no apologies for my grief. In my world, not acknowledging feelings is not cool. I don’t do elephants in the room. I talk about emotions that rise. Yours or mine. Being vulnerable and emotionally transparent is a lonely gig. Not many people want to warm that bench with you. I’ve come to accept that. I know I’m an acquired taste. I know I’m a niche market.
It won’t stop me being who I am. If this is too confronting, look away (or step away, or run away). But if you’d like to stick around, we could have a fabulous time. Being real is where the growth is. Being out of your comfort zone is where life begins. Being vulnerable is where rich connection happens. It’s good stuff.
I’m not meant to be everything to everyone. And I’m not here to win a popularity contest. What I am here for is to be a voice of authenticity. To be a voice of compassion.
I’m not perfect, but I will listen. I will go deep with you.
Despite my clashes with insensitive people this week, I am enormously grateful to those who did reach out to me in my grief.
One friend brought around a meal last night. It comforted our bellies and our hearts.
One friend let me talk and talk and talk. As long as it took.
My mum and my sisters poured their love onto me. They knew how much I loved Luka.
For two nights in a row I crawled into Mr G’s arms at 3am. I bawled into his warm chest. He held me and he heard me.
My 3 year old girl saw my tears and wiped them with her bare little hands.
And one friend said exactly what I needed to hear.
“If the sadness is in proportion to your love for him Deb, then you will be sad for a while, and it wont necessarily pass in a ‘convenient’ time frame (for you or any of those ‘onlookers’ to your grief). It will ease, eventually, so that it no longer takes you out the way it does at the moment; but for the moment, in grieving well you honour him.”
My dear Luka, I am so sorry sweetheart. I am shattered by guilt. I am broken with sadness.
May I honour you deeply with this grief.