I am grieving right now. Many of us are. Maybe you lost a loved one to COVID-19 or another illness. Maybe you’ve lost your source of income. Maybe you’re facing the loss of a home or a job. Perhaps you grieve over this lost year- canceled plans, holidays on hold, families unable to get together, empty chairs at the table.
On Sunday afternoon, November 15, my precious male Maltese and constant companion, Sazerac, died in my arms after experiencing a debilitating seizure. I weighed taking him to an animal hospital. I knew what would happen: numerous tests and most likely a recommendation to euthanize.
I realize I am not the only one who has lost a loved one this year. Many of you have. I should be lucky I remind myself. My mother is sequestered and healthy. I have friends who’ve lost parents. But I still grieve, and this time I am giving myself space and time to grieve properly to heal the pain. You can’t place antibiotic and band-aid over grief.
I agonize. How did it happen? If only I paid more attention to any warning signs. If only I had done something differently. I blame myself for what- my husband reminds me- was the death of a dog whose health had been in steady decline. It was hard to face that reality when on Saturday Sazerac was still bouncing around on the grass and cleaning his plate, staring at me with his big round black eyes.
Now, all I see is a white ghost everywhere. Just a handful to hold, I miss snuggling Sazerac against my neck and having him curl up by my side. I miss his high-pitched bark and crooked smile. I miss his sprightly trot and the way he’d dance in circles before taking a poop. His paws were big for such as tiny dog- 3 pounds! We always had to watch out that his body wouldn’t slip into a crack or a hole. He was so small but had big guy attitude. I was so protective, but I worry that last day of his life I may have neglected something that could have saved him.
I remind myself: “If only is no longer. Sazerac is gone. Stop second guessing.”
Someone tells me nicely, “But life goes on.” I respond, “No buts, please.” It’s not the time. I think silently if the word “pet” was replaced with another word: “You husband is dead, but life goes on.” “Your child has died, but life goes on.”
You just say “I’m so very sorry.” There is no “but” right now that makes anyone feel better in that moment of grief.
Friends write, “I am sorry for your loss.” They share that they loss a cherished pet and post photos. I write back that I share their grief. I know, and they know, processing it all takes time. Nothing else needs to be said. Give the person space and a consoling ear, not your opinion.
We’re all grieving for someone or something that we lost this year We’ll all be glad when 2020 is in the rear view mirror. In the meantime, we gave thanks for good health, recovery, friendship, photos of loved ones and happy places. Simple things. No ifs or buts this year. Just simple gratitude we’ve made it this far. One day at a time.