Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Sadness

Losses take on many forms in our lives. I am dealing with end of life decisions for our 15 year old cat, and feeling so sad about this impending loss. I know we can't expect anyone or anything to be around forever. But I don't believe accepting means denying the pain of parting.

Grief is a normal emotion. We all react in different ways, but the important thing is to allow the grief process to work. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross first formulated the Five Stages of Grief in 1969. Like most universal truths, this model has stood the test of time. The stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They are not linear stages, meaning we finish one and move directly to the next, but we may jump ahead, skip back, or miss some entirely. But most of the stages sound familiar and true to anyone who has grieved.

The loss of a pet can't be put on the same level as the loss of a human family member or friend, however, I know my pain is real. I can't deny my sadness, and I won't hide it from my family. My children will also experience sadness and grief, and we will have to help them through this, too. I will tell them to find the feelings of sadness in their body, to breathe into it and allow it to be real. Sadness is not something to avoid or deny. Cry when you want to, remember the good things and talk about them openly, and be gentle with yourself. Grief takes time, and we won't be over it by tomorrow. Together we will remember our cat with fondness, maybe we'll mark her final resting place with a flowering shrub, or a catnip bush. We know she'll have a place in our hearts forever, even though she's no longer with us.

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