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On Grief and Lost Identities...

This past year of my life has had its fair share of grief-filled experiences (I would argue, MORE than my fair share to be quite honest). Every time I write a post based on one of these profound experiences, I think "this is so negative; why not write about something happier?" However, the truth is, it's in some of our darkest, perhaps grief-filled moments in life, when we have the greatest reflections and learnings. These moments literally tear us out of our comfort zones and routines and help us to see what is important in life - to help us reprioritize things or perhaps refocus on gratitude for everything and everyone that is part of our lives. I share my experiences as a way of honoring what I've lost in a way that might be helpful to others going through similar situations.

I knew this month was going to be a bit challenging for me as I always find "first milestones" a bit difficult. This week is the one-year anniversary of my dad's sudden stage 4 cancer diagnosis, the tragic death of a favorite barn cat and later this month, it'll be one year since I received the news that my job was being eliminated. Last June was brutal to say the least.

This June, I find myself looking forward to a number of new beginnings and had hoped that would balance out the rest of the memories that were creeping in. However, then Saturday happened. I woke up that morning to find that my 9-year-old Greyhound, Kota, was very restless and panting heavily. As the day progressed, so did his symptoms and his breathing was very labored and his gums went pale. I knew I had to take him to the ER Vet, though loading a 75+ lb. dog who could barely stand up wasn't going to be easy. My dog who was seemingly healthy and happy less than 24 hours ago, was suddenly in critical condition due to fluid around his heart and a mass that was discovered at the ER. I had to make the quick, unexpected and very painful decision to euthanize him within minutes.

I've understandably been in a state of shock and grief over the past few days as a result of this weekend's unexpected events. I have been trying to do my best to focus on self-care - rest, energetic healing and meditation. This morning I was playing a grief meditation video that I listened to often last year after my dad passed away. I knew it always did wonders for helping me process my grief and clear it from my body.

Though I've listened to it many times before, I heard a few new nuggets of perspective this morning that were interesting to reflect on that I want to share. The first one was:

  • "Grief is a process, it’s our natural way of healing from the loss of something significant that we’ve identified with in our lives. Be it the loss of a dear one, loss of our health, loss of our youth, loss of a way of life that we had gotten used to and valued."

This first one made me pause and think about the various things that people grieve the loss of in their lives. It resonated with me that in addition to the emotions and grief that we feel as a result of the loss, there's an added element of us feeling that loss so deeply because something that we IDENTIFIED with is gone or has drastically changed.

  • When we lose a job, we lose a part of the identity that we held for most of the hours of our days for many years of our lives. We can find ourselves wondering who we are with that part of our identity stripped away from us.

  • When we lose a loved one, we lose a piece of what our identity was because they existed, whether it's that we were a "daughter" or a "son" to someone or even a "caregiver."

  • When we lose our health, we lose a part of who we once were, whether it's our ability to do things as easily as we once did (mobility, stamina, etc.) or the hobbies we once loved that we've had scale back on or possibly give up, either temporarily or long-term.

For me, this recent loss of my greyhound Kota was not only the loss of him and the relationship and bond we shared, but also my identity as a "greyhound owner" and a part of a community that has grown to become so much a part of who I am over the past 5 years. While I might have another greyhound someday, for now, it's not in the cards, so deep down, I realized that I'm grieving not only him, but who I was when I was with him.

A second insight that she shared was:

  • "Be mindful that nothing in nature is wasted. In Autumn, the leaves on the tree will fall and mulch down into the ground. All of the nutrients are drawn from the leaves into the tree roots, into the trunk and stored for the coming spring, to rise up to the farthest branches where new shoots will unfurl. Know that all that’s dear to you, what you are grieving for, whatever that may be, is there within you as the ENERGY of the experience - all of the experiences you’ve gathered over time in relationship with this loved one or something you loved. The energy is there within in you, like the energy drawn up through the roots into the trunk of the tree. It will continue to be there and be part of who you are and inform your growth, be part of your own flourishing, your own leaves unfurling. Cherish this precious energy right there within you. And know like the trunk of that tree, you are strong. Stronger than you think. You will endure. And all the love that you have within you, from what was dear to you and still is, will be part of the life that unfolds for you, will be there to sustain you, will be part of your joy."

To think about loss in this way really brought me comfort. With all that I know about energy and energetic healing now, it really resonated with me that the "frequency" that we share with others, we can distinctly RECOGNIZE and FEEL. And that's the same "frequency" (or emotion or "feel" in our body) that we will continue to experience every time we think about that special individual or thing that we loved (and continue to love) so much.

Give this a try: think about a hobby you always loved and all of the positive emotions and feelings you had about it when you were doing it (whether it was recently or back in your childhood days). Or think of a memory of one of the HAPPIEST times that you spent with someone - recall how you felt inside your body while in their presence and experiencing this happy time with them. Hopefully this quick exercise helps you to better connect to the frequency of the emotions that you FELT.

What if every time we want to feel those we lost or the joy we felt for something we had experienced in our lives, we closed our eyes and tried to reconnect with the energy we felt when those things were part of our lives? Perhaps that can bring us closer to those beings and things through memories and feelings, allowing us to experience those "frequencies" whenever we want to feel the way we felt in their presence once again.

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