Expressing sympathy to a pet lover

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“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4

I had some disconcerting news about my beloved apricot poodle Crouton a couple of weeks ago. Fast forward to last week, and I found out there is some hope in his stage 3 cancer diagnosis. The operation will tell all. I am not looking forward to the recovery period for my 12-year-old angel either…but one step at a time. At the moment, I am mulling over how I will obtain $1,200—if I go that route—with everything else going on.

Anyway, the first onset (24-48 hours) of news, I had a lot of reactions from people…in my mind, I started penning a letter with well-meaning friends in mind. And here is an open letter to anyone who cares….10217244-stack-old-book-and-candle-education

Dear Friend:

When you find out that your friend/acquaintance/neighbor or whoever is facing the passing of a pet, please do not compare the pet to a child or human being. This is a shocking comparison and one that should be avoided at all costs. It is tasteless to pit a child against a dog or other animal. I know your motives are pure and you are trying to ease the pain, but pain is pain. We are entitled to our own personal pain. Each type of pain is worthy to run its own course the way the griever sees fit. Please make room in your world for my pain. By telling me not to feel the pain, you are deleting something that is natural and normal. Please don’t strip me down because you can’t handle pain; by doing this you will multiply the pain…what you resist persists.

Even if you are not an animal lover, please do not, under any circumstances say, “It is just an animal.” My little “baby” is just that to me. Please don’t try and suffocate my love for something because you cannot empathize. I do not need empathy or even understanding, I just need “to be.” Please, in other words, let me grieve without having to stuff it, or minimize it or tweak it or fake it or…fill in the bank it. I am a mature gal. I have grieved my dad’s passing; my brother’s passing; my son’s best friend’s passing. I have grieved nine friends/people I’ve known who’ve committed suicide. I have grieved my friend Jane’s passing at 17 years old. I do not need a grieving coach. I just need someone who says something like “I hear you.” “You are entitled to your pain.”

Do not ask me if I need anything. I am a big girl. I know how to ask for help. But you can come for a friendly visit with some comfort food we can share. Maybe a phone call to set up a coffee date would be nice. A date where we can just sit and “be” and “be with” and “live” while we are alive, since living, I think, is plum important…living and grieving and feeling…feeling…feeling. I do not want to act like I do not feel. I am at my best when I feel my feelings. I’ve spent thousands of dollars sitting with therapists/coaches identifying my feelings and learning they are okay to have. If you are uncomfortable with that, please don’t come around, that is the best thing you can do for someone who is upset and grieving. In fact, it is far more than “just” grieving about a pet. It is about letting go. That’s a tough hurdle. We live working so hard to accumulate, but even if we never ever have a death to moan or possessions to forfeit, we will at some point have to let go of our last breaths. So, for Pete’s sakes, don’t rattle my journey. I keep the day-tripping adventure real because it is fueled by faith.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Stacy

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Until next time…faith forward!

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10-tips to help you cope with crisis

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Whether you have lost a loved one, a job or you find yourself trying to live through some other sudden unplanned event that has caused major turmoil in your life, here is a tip sheet highlighting 10 points that I hope will help you.

  1. On those days when you think you won’t make it through the day, tell yourself that all you have to do is make it—only for that very second that you have at that moment. Being mindful of the environment around you is helpful when getting through the tough days. For instance, when you are sweeping the floor, tell yourself: “I am now sweeping the floor. I am now grabbing the dustpan. The dustpan is silver.”
  2. Cut yourself slack. Buy yourself flowers or that new lawnmower you have been obsessing for months about. Sleep in…but….
  3. Force yourself to get out of bed and face the day ahead even though sometimes it can feel so unbearable. Don’t overdo unhealthy behavior like hiding in bed or over indulging on sweets and carbs. These kind of things may feel so good momentarily, but are no good in the long run. For example, eating ice cream is permissible, but after you devour the first gallon full, keep the lid on the next gallon and find something healthier to replace your impulse. For instance, get outdoors for a walk. If the weather is too hot or too cold or too rainy, the neighborhood mall is always an option for some strolling, jogging or people-watching, but leave the plastic at home; overspending can be another quick elixir that can nip you in the bud in the long run.
  4. It may be difficult to swallow, but even though you clearly did not create the hapless circumstances, and were not in charge of the circumstances, you ARE in charge of YOU. Referring back to #3, put the ice cream down. Try and keep the temper tantrums at bay. Steer away from the negative thoughts, the stinkin’ thinking.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. In the darkest of times when you have had a power surge, borrow their light and get a good dose of recommended Vitamin D.
  6. Chart your own course of healing. Whether partaking in therapy, support groups, aromatherapy, attending church services or talking a walk in nature, only you know what will help heal YOUR wounds the best.
  7. Chart your own timeline. Likewise, even though there are documented “stages” of healing, you YOURSELF are the true navigator of your route to recovery—whether it takes days, months or years, don’t compromise your healing timetable for anyone. That would be like squeezing into someone else’s pair of pants. Find your natural and organic North.
  8. You alone are the writer of ACT II in your life, which, after you have experienced a crisis, will obviously be different from ACT I. If you can, try and not label your circumstances as negative occurrences, just as “different” situations. With this in mind, plot your ACT II with an overdose of creativity NOT macabre! Start the brainstorming and come up with a great future plan, whether signing up for classes, embarking on an exotic travel adventure or a simple reunion with an old-time friend for coffee.
  9. Realize no matter how scary it all feels, you are NOT alone! Most people have been through earth-shattering events—no matter how “sane” they may look! Don’t compare your outsides to someone’s insides.
  10. Have faith. Refer back to #5. Bask in someone else’s faith long enough until you risk living and loving again!

Until next time…faith forward!