Let us take a moment to recognize our (at least) national aversion to feeling anything even remotely resembling the heavy end of the healthy emotions spectrum. We take pills for our pain. We numb our bodies in childbirth. We drink a few glasses of wine to detach from a hard day at the office. We hurl ourselves at work when we hate our spouses. We use credit cards to distance us from the hell of not having enough. We eat away our loneliness, our fear, and our rage. We are afraid to feel.
We are afraid to feel.
And it’s not just a bullshit move to run away from the feelings that we’ve deemed unsavory… it’s literally killing us. Yes, it hurts to lose a beloved pet–a trusted companion of 15 years–but th at hurt is only a fraction of what we will carry into the future if we don’t pause to grieve this loss.
It is our tendency to fly forward, too afraid to feel the hurt, piling one set of un-shed tears on top of the next. When we attempt to replace dead pets (or children, lovers, or friends, for that matter), we deny our very primal need to grieve. When we distract ourselves with something cute or shiny or numbing, we push our grief down instead of releasing it. And it’s the releasing it that allows us to move on at a natural, healthy pace.
There is an organic process that follows any loss like this and when we deny it, we suffer. And people who are suffering, hurt other people. It’s a toxic cycle of detachment and denial, and it has to stop. If we want to be the extraordinary people we are capable of being, we must choose to stay, to be in our experience, until it shifts into a new one. We must be willing to feel the way our life honestly feels. Releasing this experience properly creates space for the next beautiful experience to flow to us.
If I brought home a kitten right now, I believe I would be robbing my wife, my children, and myself of the opportunity to grieve properly. Although we might be distracted, a new kitten would do nothing to help us heal the wound. Fancy just died yesterday. That hole in our hearts, minds, and home can’t be filled. They have to heal.
Instead of bringing in a kitten–and don’t get me wrong, we love kittens–we will be here, in this house that feels different without Fancy. We’ll notice that she is gone. We’ll feel space that used to be occupied by her unconditionally loving spirit, and rather maddening aversion to personal hygiene. We will tell stories and look at pictures. We will laugh about her life, and sometimes cry because it hurts that she is gone.
Instead of running away from ourselves, we will experience this loss.