People grieve about many types of loss. Death is certainly the most common loss and no one escapes that experience on planet earth.
When Pets Die
I have many friends who share their lives with animals. For some of them, loss of their loving companion is just as devastating or more so as any the loss of any family member. It's important to remember that when a friend's beloved animal dies. They need just as much support in the months ahead as anyone else.
Sadly, when it come to loss I hear things like, “Losing your pet is not as devastating as losing your child.” My mind jumps to questions like, “How do you know that? How can you be so sure how deeply someone feels grief? What makes one loss more devastating than another?”
Going On With Life
Others have told me that they would not be able to go on with their life if their husband/child/mother/father/pet died. Sometimes when I hear that I can't help feeling sad that they’ve already decided to suffer long before an event ever takes place. But I don't express that. Instead I quickly let go of the sadness so they are not affected by it. My years of bodywork taught me that strong emotions can be felt by others, even if they are not aware of the emotions happening around them!
The "Worst" Loss
After the deaths of most of my family, when people hear that my daughter Sarah died at 21, they always tell me how tragic that is and how sad they are for me because, in their opinion, that’s the "worst loss of all". I want to say, "Please don’t feel what you feel on my behalf!" I never decided that her loss was "the worst." And, not personal to them, I don’t choose to have all that sadness directed at me. As I mentioned, emotions can affect others. Being empathic and highly sensitive to ALL energy, even if I'm not intellectually aware of it, can cause me a lot of discomfort-especially negativity or sadness.
Yes, I am well acquainted with tragedy and death. Years before my Sarah died, our 9 year-old nephew was murdered and a few years after that, my sister-in-law left two small children and my brother behind when she took her own. I haven’t found any loss to be "easier" or "lesser" than another.
Losses Other Than Death
Another devastating experience for me was job loss causing us to sell our first home for what we owed the bank and then having to relocate 2,000 miles away from our families with two very young children. That was a trifecta of loss and it left a huge hole in my heart. That wound felt even bigger and deeper when another job loss resulted in letting go of the home we built from scratch, two houses and 17 years later. At that time my life and my marriage were uncertain and I didn't know where I would live.
I was still reeling from closing my business, heavily in debt and a bad break up with a roommate just a few months before Sarah tragically died. All those losses melded together sometimes as I tried to figure out where to live and how to support myself. I certainly couldn't do bodywork with all that grief surrounding me!
Insensitivity and Ignorance
On one occasion I heard my father-in-law tell his daughter to "just get over" her son's tragic death. However long it can take to integrate loss is not on a time schedule and it varies with each individual occurrence. No one can tell you how long or short a time to give it. It takes as long as it takes.
My first husband and my mother died within four months of each other 3 1/2 years after my daughter. I didn’t notice any difference in the devastation I felt at the time. After my husband died one insensitive person really harped on the fact that half my family was gone. Despite what I told him about my own true feelings, I couldn’t get him to stop talking about how badly HE felt about that “sad and horrible” situation.
Triggering the Imagination
Less than two years after mom died, my dad followed. For while I felt like an orphan and thoughts about my daughter and husband didn’t even come up for me. For weeks, maybe even months, I thought about how sick my only sibling was and had been for many years. I found myself having to constantly redirect my thoughts so as to not mourn my still very alive brother!
For many, grief comes in waves. As time passes, the ebb and flow changes for most, Some just get stuck there and don't know how to get out of the cycle. Often, years later and out of the blue, grief can just randomly appear. And sometimes, especially in the beginning, giving in to the pain and sadness and letting the tears and grief wash over you provides a welcome release of energy and brings relief to that burden.
People in grief shouldn’t have to explain or defend their feelings (or lack of them) and they certainly don’t benefit from what other people want to put on them. I never know what’s going to go on in my own head and heart, I’m certainly not going let other people prioritize my losses.
And I hope you don’t either. ♥️