Originally for September’s newsletter, I considered talking about work or school, since it is after all, Labor Day weekend. However, this month, I’d like to talk about loss. Yesterday, my husband and I lost our last of four Labrador retrievers as he joined his brothers in heaven.
Although those four could be a bit overwhelming, the pups have been an important part of our lives. Sitting next to one another with streams of tears spilling out of reluctant eyes, I felt pain—real pain. I knew this dog had been my husband’s best, and I mean best, friend for over fourteen years. I knew there would be a hole in his heart, in our house, and in the daily routine. My gut wrenched.
Meditating on that feeling of pain, and no stranger to losing loved ones, I want to say that grieving is a part of life. While we exist on this earth, we will experience a wide range of emotions. Unfortunately, grief is one of them. We don’t have to hide it; we don’t have to deny it; we don’t have to make excuses.
With a heavy heart, I looked at my husband—a six-foot, two-hundred-fifty-pound tough guy. He cried; he allowed himself to appreciate his grief. And, in a weird way, it helped. Sometimes society encourages us to look and act “okay.” It seems inappropriate and uncomfortable to cry or to show sadness. While I don’t think these expressions should rule our every day, having time to feel hurt from loss or misfortune is healthy. Remembering that is important; feelings are important. Working through feelings instead of avoiding them is how we grow as a person.
We miss all our dear family members. Still, there is hope. Precious memories live in our hearts. Dreamy visions, reliving joyful times, focusing on special moments, and recalling silly habits are ours and cannot be stolen away. Memories represent some of our most valuable belongings. Here are a few more things I believe:
This next paragraph may sound a bit far-fetched, but let’s leave our minds and hearts open….
Within an hour after this sad event, a large deer appeared in the front corner of our property. Not so unusual, right? Well… kind of… Typically, we see a group of does walk through the back yard in the silent hours of dawn. We’ve also see two bucks, again in the early morning or late evening. I can’t recall ever seeing a stag near the front rock formation, mid-day, while we were only two hundred feet away and quite evident. The buck was unusually large, with broad antlers. He stopped and stared at us. We stared back. A minute passed. Finally, I spoke, “Look how big he is, see those antlers?” My husband agreed. I sighed. “I know this sounds nuts, but that’s a sign. It’s just like Dad to let us know he’s with us, feeling our hurt, with something so big and obvious. Yup, our doggie is in heaven.”
You might be thinking, what a stretch, but… what… seriously… what… what if? I have felt a few of my lost loved ones. I see them in numbers, signs, billboards, and commercials. I feel one in sunshine when the breeze is just right. A familiar scent startles me for another, rarely, but certainly. I might hear a perfectly timed special song playing about another. In all these I am confident my special someones are with me.
I prefer this idea, to trust in this what if, to have faith, over a total forever loss.
I admit this notion won’t stop grief; it won’t fill an empty gap or deep crevasse, but it does make me feel better. I feel sad, then I remember, just enough to find strength and carry on.
When we grieve, perhaps we might also focus on heaven and on our special someone(s) truly being with us in spirit.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
- Psalm 46:1
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
- Matthew 5:4
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.
- II Timothy 1:7
Note: This is a deer from our yard last fall; when I get a shot of the deer we saw today, I'll add it.
Lillian Corrigan uses writing to learn, inspire and encourage both others and herself. No stranger to devastating, life-altering hardship and loss, she's begun working as a motivational author.