Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Still, like air, I rise

For many years I've told everyone I know I'd need a week off when my dog died. I thought I would be a saint-style stoic person until the moments surrounding the actual death, then lose my shit and take a week off of work to ramble around my house like Miss Havisham.

It happened in reverse. I lost my mind over a declining dog for over a week, remained stoic while my dog was dying, found peace in the moments after, and needed to go to work the next day for some semblance of normalcy.

I am working consciously towards my new normal. That tag is on that tattoo for a reason. I'm here. I'm okay. I can bend, stretch, be compressed, withstand. I am resilient. If I think honestly about who I am and what I'm made of, I realize that resilience is what makes me the most me.

I heard from so many people after Geege died. People I know, but also a lot of people I don't know. Broken hearts over dead dogs brings people out. All the dog people were so great in letting us know we were not fucking nuts for feeling so bad over a dog. Amanda told me that many times leading up to it and I am so glad I had those words in my head because I felt legitimately insane for reacting like this. I pride myself on moving ahead with dignity, and doing so quickly. There is not even one fuck to give for appearing put together in this incident.

Grief is one of the great equalizers, and it exposes us in a way that allows real connection. But man, it's uncomfortable, showing your pain to the world. And it's really fucking uncomfortable for the world to hear about it. Have you ever listened to or read someone express their pain plainly and cringe a little, inadvertently turning away from it, like it's something you need to shield yourself from? I have. You just want them to stop talking about it, to get over it, to move on. We do not want to sit down to a plate piled high with raw emotion because it requires us to respond and it's easier not to. Just pass the ketchup and let's eat in silence.

Throughout this I kept asking myself why the fuck I was putting this all out there, not once or twice or on one medium but on many. It's showing more of the man behind the curtain than I am usually comfortable with. I have no answer aside from the fact that writing is a great purge. Even so, I certainly do not share everything in this space that I write. I don't know why I shared this grief stuff. I don't know why I'm still sharing it. I'm not asking for permission or forgiveness, I just truly have no idea why I refuse to write about most things more than once but this I've theme I have let have free rein. If it wants out it gets out and it gets published without getting a re-read so good God please don't let there be grammatical errors.

Maybe someone will need it in the future, and here it will be. I don't know.

Grief is weird.

Here are some pretty frank descriptions of my thoughts this week. These are not solicitations for sympathy. In fact maybe there's something that makes you laugh. Grief can be ugly but it can also be funny. In my world nothing can get better until things can be funny.

-Attempt real things after Geege's body is taken out but end up on couch in basement where I never go because it sucks down there hiding from MFD, Gus, Mae, life. 
-Spend afternoon obsessing over ordering a Geege bracelet and painting my toenails because what if I die from a broken heart and people see my toenails like that?  
-Leave house simply so I can return to a home without Geege for the first time even though that means subjecting my family to my surly company. My husband is much nicer for them to be around, as always. 
-Fear hugging my niece because I don't want her to feel my sad. 
-Interrupt mourning to receive phone call from Dunkin Donuts owner in an effort to secure social justice for her workers, succeed, go immediately back to sulking
-Tired of life and in bed before 9
-Talk to Geege before bed like he's still there
-Ignore all phone calls, 9/10 facebook comments, and some texts

-Wake up and cry because I immediately remember Geege is not here.
-Forget sunglasses which makes crying on the train awkward.
-Cry twice in the office before 8:30 a.m.
-Exhausted to the point of propping myself up by 9 a.m.
-Tell one coworker so she can spread the news. Most people avoid me, which I prefer, except for those who have put dogs down, and we whisper in my office because we can't speak and cry together four different times like a secret club no one wants to belong to.
-I eat literally all the brownies that come with the staff lunch and since I work with great people no one says a fucking word or tries to take one.
-I fantasize about acting out all of my small, mean thoughts on people who do not deserve it then worry this will happen on public transport. Contemplate working from home for the rest of the week/my entire life.
-Should I wear a my dog just died sign to explain possible erratic behavior?
-Try to care about things, fail.
-Wonder why the fuck I am so upset when I know dogs don't live long and I have never been so upset about a human dying
-Have to face the wall when I tell my boss who is a huge dog lover and who has been there, it is really awkward because we are both almost crying and that is totally not what you want to be doing on a Monday afternoon with an employer
-Consider contacting TOMs and telling them a pair of plaid shoes in my size that are no longer in stock might help heal the heart of a woman who just lost her dog, realize I am opportunistically insane and refrain.
-Spend time looking for myself in the mirror because my face feels physically different from crying so much for the past seven days
-Begin to identify with a straw person someone puts on a bench as a fall decoration because I am lacking human response today.
-Answer most people but avoid one on one interactions like the plague.
-Spend the evening lost in a book.
-Notice Mae is really in distress and vow to do better tomorrow.

-Wake up certain I am in a different stage of life as I no longer physically feel like every part of my body is a nerve ending, nor do I feel sunk into myself. I feel lighter. The bags under my eyes do not. Yikes. Eye cream applied.
-Still talking to Geege like he's here, realize I might do that forever, realize I am fine with that
-Mae goes to the vet and as suspected nothing is physically wrong with her, just the loss.
-On the train I am angry about something on a neighborhood facebook page. Self? Is that you?
-Post some feminist post on Instagram. I know this woman. 
-At lunch I am angry over the shitbox healthcare burger they're attempting to serve up again so I call my Senators. Self! That is you.
-At work I listen to a coworker complain about her husband without thinking shut the fuck up don't you know my fucking dog is dead! I actually feel sympathy because seriously why can't they just fucking call someone to fix something instead of pretending they are going to fix it
-I make a list for the weekend. I'm back. 
-Watch Geege videos and smile. 
-Hug my Dad without crying
-Observe Gus sniff the entire house relentlessly looking for Geege without crying 
-Re-engage with people 
-Go to bed at 11 and realize I have not cried all day for the first time in eight days

Today? Today is a new day and my hair stylist will remove the 314159 grays I have gotten over the last week which will bring me great joy. I will return to the shore alone and that might be hard. I will miss Geegie boy forever. I will be in real pain for a while. I expect to burst into tears at inopportune times. But I will do those things while laughing as much as I can and feeling joy. Joy and pain can co-exist in me if I allow them to. I don't have to choose one or the other. 

I had an idea in my head not only of how I grieve compared to others, but how and for how long I grieve period. I gave myself a hurdle that I then had to get over when I had no strength to do so. I think we have an idea of how we should properly grieve and that holds us back from grieving how we need to. Fuck proper. Grieve in your own way, every time. Even if it's different from the last time. And look for the laughs because they will move you forward.  

L'shanah Tovah, friends. I'm ready for a new year myself.


  1. Ugh grief. So necessary in times like this but so painful and exhausting. Sending hugs and strength your way xo

  2. I have human kids and furry kids. They are the same in their own way. Equally important. Equally priceless. Losing one from a pack seems so hard. Being there when one goes to the other side is a privilege. Talking to them is normal to me. You help me and others the way your are wearing your heart on your sleeve and your blog , etc. carry on. Carry on. That's what we do. 😇✨🦄☮️🍀💖❣️🌈 Love. Your. Momma

  3. Oh friend, I continue to be sorry you are in such pain. Death truly is the great equalizer, so well said. Continue to do or not do what you need to purge the feelings welling up inside. Letting them out here or with your people will serve you well. Death sucks, human or pet, it pure SUCKS! I hope the hair appointment helps you feel better! <3

  4. I thought I was the only one who never lost it over a human death but was rendered to a goopy puddle at the loss of my dog. Still, 7 months later, I am a mess. I get your pain. Empathy has never been my strongpoint, but for some reason, it woke up in me this past week.
    I hope Grace meets Geege up there; I think they'd get along famously.

  5. Hey man... we're coming up on the 3rd anniversary of the loss of our last dog & I cried this morning thinking about it all. It's all about surviving DAILY the grief. It'll always be there in its own little ways - even in the happy memories, grief still lingers. It's what happens when a part of your heart leaves. But yep, you keep surviving.

  6. Begin to identify with a straw person someone puts on a bench as a fall decoration because I am lacking human response today.

  7. There are no words to describe how hard it is to say goodbye to our beloved duggies. Roxy has been gone for 4 months now, and I still get weepy and yell out "Roxy poo you're supposed to be here!" We all grieve differently, just know you are strong and each day will get better. Sending more *hugs* <3

  8. This: "Mae goes to the vet and as suspected nothing is physically wrong with her, just the loss" and this "Observe Gus sniff the entire house relentlessly looking for Geege without crying" got me. Your dogs are breaking my heart all over the place.

    Grief is so damn weird. When I lost my aunt I buried it very deep and didn't confront it for over a year. (My whole family traveled to MO for her funeral and I found an excuse to stay home (I was 15) and my mom let me because she didn't want to force me into grief.) I honestly can't think or talk about her without crying now, over 10 years later.

    When we lost our sweet Melody (who we had for 2.5 years) I broke down on the way to the vet and cried all day, but I let the grief subside quickly and I started to remember the funny, sweet moments almost immediately.

    Enzo is turning 4 next month and I'm hopeful he'll live forever, but when that month/day/year comes I don't know how I will be other than a complete mess.
    It's tough to navigate life after a huge piece of it moves out and on.

  9. I think it's healthy to write things out and put it out there if you need. Basically whatever you need to do to get through (minus the infliction of things on people you dislike lol) is ok! I'm glad you've found so much support and love, and have found the humor in some things. The day after my dad died, sitting at the funeral home with my mom and husband, we laughed. I dont remember what it was about but something struck us as funny and we laughed. And damn did it help.
    You're rising and you're strong, even when you're weak and feeling down.

  10. I know that some people say dogs don't understand or have feelings, but they do. Gracie has been gone for almost a year and a half, and Mac still gets sad about it and sniffs an old toy that they once shared or lays in one of her usual spots in the house. And I think he knows I miss her because he is crazy, but every once in awhile he calms his ass down and acts like she did for a little while for me. And I bet Gus and Mae will do that too. Also, you should totally write TOMS and get your plaid shoes and make you feel better. Hugs friend.

  11. Grieving is so weird. We all do it, but all in our own way at our own pace. I cried for weeks when I first found out Lady had cancer. And now it comes and goes, but hits me at random times. Like when I plan for Christmas and wonder if she'll be here. It's always a good reminder to give her that extra treat, rub or car ride. Which makes us both happy <3

  12. Slowly but surely we put the pieces back together, find some semblance of normalcy and move on. You'll always miss him and think of him, but each day that passes will get you closer and closer to feeling human again. No need to rush it. XO

  13. I'm glad you work with good people.

    That's a good way to be able to grieve.

  14. Grief is weird. I know all too well. You're doing your best and your smile will return. Do your grief at your own pace and in your own way. Hugs!

  15. Regarding grief being funny at times... in the last week when Apollo really lost his appetite and stopped eating, (I think we had even called Lap of Love at that point or at least talked about when we'd need them to come... so for context, obviously the situation was not good), and we were in the stage of fixing every different food under the sun, one of us being home with him 24-7 just making him comfortable, being up all hours of the night, non-stop crying, both of us, for a week, we'd just been through the ringer... and Bob says, "he's not even eating popcorn, something must be really wrong". I remember looking up and saying, "uh yeah, he's got cancer, he's dying, something IS really fucking wrong". While the situation is obviously not funny in any way, something about "something must be really wrong" after so much time of EVERYTHING being wrong, was really quite funny in the worst way.

    It's been a month and a half since we lost him and I still either tear up or cry about it most days. All things at your own pace, in your own time.

    1. I totally get that. Sometimes you literally MUST laugh at something and it's usually something that is funny in a bad way.

  16. I am so sorry, just now catching up on blogs. I have been where you are and it is still hard many, many years later. They are gifts that we get to love and cherish for such a short time. Wishing you peace:)


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