Friday, June 10, 2011

Understanding Grief

Grief is not universal. Not all deaths are equal, not all deaths carry the same weight across the spectrum. Often people believe they can relate to someone else's grief when in fact hey have no idea to the depth of sorrow and pain. While I appreciate all words of sympathy from whoever offers it up, most people have never had a relationship with a living soul as deep as the one I enjoyed with Erin and that stems from myself making her the center of the universe for nearly 12 years. How can the average person who kept a dog tethered to a tree in the backyard while offering that creature the bare necessities of life expect to understand what I felt when my angel passed away? His dog is a second thought while every decision I made for over a decade including employment opportunities and social events were done in the best interest of Erin. He shed a few tears, buried it in the back yard, and then replaced the dog the following day, that connection and bond is entirely different than the one I built to incredible heights.

It's difficult to relate when you haven't been immersed in such a relationship yourself and while I can envision the pain there's no way I'd understand the sorrow felt by a woman who lost her husband after a long marriage. I haven't been in her position and experienced 50 years of true love so how can I expect to truly fathom the heartwrenching agony and loneliness she feels upon his death. A father losing his child to cancer is totally foreign to those of us who have been spared the horrific journey and final outcome, we imagine the emotions as the child takes his final breath but in reality we have no clue. For someone to fully comprehend they must trod the same path, experience the peaks and valleys of that bond and only then will they be able to say they understand what lies in the heart and mind. The road one travels is specific to their situation and not easily understood by outsiders, unique emotions ensure the journey will be completed in isolation for the most part and while words can temporarily soothe the pain, the sufferer must find a way through the maze alone.

Everyone attach's a different value to life, some treat every death as a catastrophe event while others view every departure as insignificant and for them life resumes with little fanfare. Either way is acceptable as one must do what it takes to survive the recovery phase while putting themselves in the best position to continue on the path called life. We have no right to judge others afflicted with grief and no one should assume they can grasp the emotions I feel in the wake of Erin's death; to suffer a loss of the utmost degree is really unexplainable and it must be experienced first hand. The deaths of family and friends in the past were met with tears and a brief mourning period before resuming life but this has been different for many reasons; to lose a best friend, soul mate and outlet to the world in an instant is difficult to say the least. One must suffer physical, emotional, and mental breakdowns for an extended period in order to fathom what has beset me; the passing of Erin has been an unbelievable loss and no one will truly know what resides in my heart. My grief is an individual battle that can only be conquered by myself but that's not to say I must travel down the path alone so please come along if you wish... RIP Erin!!

Grief is itself a medicine. ~William Cowper, Charity


  1. You and Erin shared a bond which unique in its own way.... I will never I can fully relate but I know that it feels terrible to loose a friend of this kind. I used to have a dog, even though he died at the age of 3 year but I felt a great loss when I lost him.

  2. I always hug my Sparky when I read your posts about Erin because I know how terrible I'll feel if anything happens to her. I don't claim to understand your pain but I do know a bit about it. We are around to lend support in any way we can...Erin has become a part of our lives too, your write ups have done that and we love her a lot. RIP erin...

  3. Reading your blog post about Erin tugs at my heart strings. Recently, I had to put my Izzy to sleep. She was my loyal faithful friend for 15 years. Izzy slept in bed with me, under the covers, my arms tucked neatly around his neck, his head resting on my pillow. Your tribute and writes about Erin make me proud to know you. Your eloquent words of remembrance for Erin speak volumes for the bond you both shared.

    It is an honor to read your blog.

    Linda Della Donna

  4. @Jyoti All loss of life is a terrible thing and I'm sure you had a special bond with your dog. It's a shame he died at such a young age :( Thanks for visiting!!

    @Sulekkha I'm glad you continue to visit my blog and that's sweet how you hug Sparky :)Unfortunately, we all know too well about pain and suffering, guess it's part of the plan. Thanks for supporting me and being part of Erin's family, she would like that alot. Take care!!

  5. Linda, thanks for your kind words !! Sorry about Izzy!! You had 15 wonderful years with him, sure you have many wonderful memories together. Erin slept in bed as well, that's a wonderful memory for sure. I'm likewise proud to be your friend.

    Take care, David

  6. I am an animal lover so I am sensitive to your pain and loss. Thanks for sharing your memories and perspective. Erin is a beautiful girl. You were blessed to have her and she you.

    Blessings and Light

  7. I had a wonderful vet who helped me through the final illness of one of my most beloved kitties. Her name was Kismet, and there was nothing she loved better than to be held on her back in my arms like a baby. (Wiping away a tear.)

    One thing she (the vet) told me was that people often feel deeper grief for their beloved pets than for other people who die. I think she is right. When we love an animal, we don't have to guard our hearts in the way we do when loving a person with two feet and no fur. I think it is a purer, closer love, in many cases, than we can find anywhere else, unless you can experience and feel the love of God.

    You are right that every grief experience is different. No one should judge another for what they honestly feel or tell them to get over it, or "just get another dog/cat" as though they were interchangeable pegs in a board game.


  8. @Tameka Always glad to meet another animal lover!! It's my pleasure to have shared her story!!

    @Orea I read in a book that folks grieve more for their animals because they're responsible for every aspect of their life until death where humans are basically on their own at 18.

  9. I am coming along David - no matter how much I can understand or relate - I am with you in your sorrow... Do agree with you emotion here - how can anyone else know???? Every sorrow or happiness for that matter is unique...

  10. I'm along for the very bumpy emotional ride you are experiencing. None of us can know, you are so right. But we can be here with you and continue reading your posts. Please keep writing. You help me in many ways.

  11. @Kristi and Mari

    Glad you both are coming along on the journey as there is much more to the story. It seems the worse is over in terms of grief but who knows. Thanks for being my friend :)

  12. You are so right David. It is only the person who has gone through the whole pain of loss can really understand that pain, others only try to understand. I can only say that I know what it feels like because i too have lost quite a few of my pet dogs. They leave you with an emptiness that is difficult to fill.Take care my friend

  13. You and Erin shared an amazing friendship, the kind that some take their whole lives to find, and others, sadly never will. I agree, there are all different levels of grief, it's important in healing to be allowed to grieve and there is never a set amount of time when it's appropriate to end the grieving process.

    Great pic of Erin, I alwasys love looking at her photos!

  14. You are right David, grief is a path you walk alone, as individual as the relationship you had with the one you grieve. Even if we tried to walk in your shoes, and get some semblance of understanding, we are not David and we did not live the life of David and Erin.

    When I learn of a passing there is one thing I always say to those left behind.

    " I Wish You Strength"....

    For me it encompasses the belief that you have now been set upon a Journey that I can not is yours and yours alone to make passage through, and in your way.

    In our western society, as a peoples, most are very uncomfortable with any type of Death. We are not trained in this and feel helpless. From their need to help we hear..."I know how you feel..." From their fear we hear.." Well, it has been a year now, time to move on..."

    For myself, I am quietly in the background if I am needed, to support, to show my compassion, to listen. The person grieving does not need answers from outside themselves...they just need a safe harbour to come into when they are in rough waters...gather strength to commence their passage again. But I do not go with them...I will be at the next safe harbour they need to come into...( If they choose)...


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