Sunday, January 15, 2017

Maybe there is no complete healing

Marc has told me many times that grief over the loss of a dear loved one is something you get through but you never really get over. He may be right.

Like so many of us, I've suffered terribly painful losses in my life. My Dad. My Mom. A number of others dear to me. I've realized over the years that my reaction to grief is to try to bury it as deep as I can. I was raised to be strong for those around me and not cry. That was my Dad's advice. He was a very loving father, and he meant well.

In any case, I did that with the biggest losses in my life. But I've realized over time that the pain doesn't go anywhere. It's buried in there, just waiting for something that makes it leak out. 20 years ago, I might have been moved by a film I saw but never would have been brought to tears. But now? Push the right buttons, and I'm all choked up.

What really brought this home today was a reminder of Jet. She was our dog when I was a boy. She was two years older than me, and she died when I was in elementary school. Here's a photo of me and Jet when I was 3 and she was 5:

Today's reminder brought me back to a day in 1978. I came home from school as usual. When I got here, the TV was on, and there was a commercial on for the Bronx Zoo. There was a lion on the screen. I said to Mom, "speaking of lions, where's Jet?" And Mom told me... Jet was gone. I remember I cried then, but in the years to come I got better about burying it, even as the losses piled up.

I'm crying as I type this, remembering that day when Jet died. That's almost 40 years ago. So when does the pain fade away? I guess maybe it doesn't. I'll always miss everyone. Dad, Mom, Uncle Allan... everyone. And the doggies... Jet, Hoyt, Bernice, Mandy and my baby boy Dodger. It seems the pain's never gone. I've just hidden it away. I guess it's how I am, and I need to make the best of it.

1 comment:

Marc said...

Most people learn, over time, to cope daily with the pain that we are dealt. It's not so much that the pain fades that it is we learn how to live with it, each in our own way. The scars are there, some deeper than others, and sometimes, they will be uncovered, and we will grieve again. But with each cycle of grief, we can hopefully learn from it, and strengthen our coping capabilities. As you well know, you can mention the dogs of my childhood and I will grieve. I think of my friend Jeff who died too young of cardiac arrest at 29, and I grieve. I still grieve for my grandmother, my father, your father, your mother, your grandmother, the three dogs we owned together who have passed...and yet, I find ways to cope with it by trying to remember the things I loved best about each of them and the things they taught me. And I think about how lucky I am to have had them all in my life. I feel like if I completely stopped grieving I'd be less of a person. So I try to channel the grief to make myself stronger. It's work. I sometimes fail. But I keep trying. I love you.