On Death and Grieving
On Saturday the 31st of October, 2015, the vet put my little dog Zing to sleep. This sad tale is communicated in greater depth in my previous blog post, called, “Zing is Dead”.
I’d like to share with you some of the helpful and healing things I have discovered through the process of grieving my loss of Zing.
The first thing I’d like to say is that it was not my natural inclination to grieve publicly. What I most wanted to do was to draw myself into myself. To pull myself into a tight little ball of pain and to privately process my loss. To hide away until I felt I could cope with life again. But, well, you can't call yourself Zingdad and then not tell people when Zing has died! So I took the plunge and shared. I wrote a blog post, sent out a newsletter and did a Facebook update. And with that I considered my duty to inform those who might wish to know of Zing’s departure discharged.
What really surprised me was how very healing it was to share my grief with others. The act of writing it, saying what I was really feeling, was a good thing to do. But it was, in so many different ways, the response I received that was truly healing to me.
Firstly there was this curious effect. I have never had such a massive response to anything I have done before. Not even to new chapters of The Ascension Papers or something like that. People, by the hundreds, from all over the world, emailed me back. Everyone had something to offer me. And, perhaps the thing that touched me most, was people telling me of their loss. Animal-companions, family members and loved ones. I was told in so many ways, over and over again, some variation of, “I feel your loss with you, I know how it feels. Because I have lost a loved one too”. And in reading those stories it felt as if something much, much deeper than my loss of Zing was being healed. You see, in reading those stories I knew that my correspondents and I were experiencing a moment of oneness through our shared grief. When they read my story of my loss they felt, somehow, that I understood them. Because here was someone expressing what they had felt. And so they knew they could reach out to me and say, “I feel that with you and here is my story,” knowing that I would feel their grief with them. I would understand… as they had. And I did. And so, how curious, whilst suffering the pain of my grief, I felt the healing of a much deeper pain. The pain of separation. I feel a flowering of oneness through this shared experience.
How thoroughly unexpected.
And not only have I felt this oneness. I have also been blessed with the loving, gentle wisdom of so many souls who have all, in one way or another, made some sense of their loss. Now, it is so that this wisdom does not dissolve the pain of loss. You cannot hold a theory in your arms, no matter how wise. You cannot bury your face in the warm fur of an idea, no matter how refined. But I do find that some of these concepts have touched my heart. I have found myself saying, "Yes, I know this to be true," with so much of what was shared with me. And these truths have provided some context for my loss. And I have found that to be helpful indeed.
I’ll share with you now some of the combined wisdom from all of these interactions:
Intellectual Healing of Grief
1. No one really dies. Death is but a transition. We will see our beloveds again.
This seems to be something that everyone knows. But the many ways in which this idea was compounded for me was really wonderful. I heard stories of messages received from the other side of the veil in dreams and through mediums. I heard stories of people feeling, and even seeing, the presence of their beloveds again. I heard quite a number of stories of a most beloved animal incarnating again as a new pup or kitten - bearing so many of the same characteristic traits and behaviour patters that there was no doubt it was the same friend back again. And then, of course, there was the idea that we would all meet again when we had transitioned to the other side of the veil of death.
So I accept this, of course. I take it a step further. I found myself able to talk to Zing. Just as I speak to J-D, 8 and Adamu, I found myself able to bring Zing into the communion of my mind. And we have had a number of very interesting conversations already. So… I know this all to be true. And it does help to realise that the loss is my own. I hurt because the human being over here who loved his dog, has lost his dog, and will not get that dog back. I don’t hurt because something altogether more tragic has happened. The essential Zing… the spirit being that enlivened him… is still very much alive. And he is now, in a way, watching over me.
2. Have you ever wondered how new souls are "minted"? Where they come from? I am now, newly understanding (thank you to Jeff for his insight on this) that they are actually formed in intensely loving relationships. That a great love between any two beings will live on when those beings pass on. The love itself is alive. It gains its own independent validity. It becomes a new soul. Is it not said that we are made of the stuff of love itself? Well this is how. In the interface between you and those you love is the potential for a new soul to form. The more love there is, the higher the potentiality.
And is that not a wonderful, healing thought? That the love that existed between Zing and I might live on? This love itself is a new soul. It can be given its own body, its own life. And, just maybe, it will even come back to me as my next dog! And if not, it does my heart good to think that I will encounter this being upon its travels. I will somewhere, someday, meet a wonderful being who is created from the very love between Zing and myself, and I will see that when I am ready for that broader perspective in the realms beyond.
3. And even if that were not so, still it is so that Zing and I both are forever changed by our time together. I know that I loved him with everything I had. I know that that love will echo forwards for him. I know he will love others as I have loved him. I know he will forever more have a font of love to draw upon. I know he will find it much easier to find self-love and self-acceptance when that is necessary for him. I know that we did some real good together. And we are both touched and changed forever by this beautiful interaction.
4. And the fourth thought is this: we do not grieve for those we did not love. Indeed, the depth of our grief is a measure of the depth of our love. And when the beloved other is gone from our presence, it often feels like the pain of their loss is all we have left of them. It is all we have to hold on to. And so, in a painfully strange way, our grief is a celebration of our love for the one we have lost.
This fourth thought I found to be perhaps the most useful of all. It was this thought that, I found, gave me permission to really feel my pain.
Until then I had thought the pain was somehow “wrong”. Like it was a bad thing that I needed to find a way to stop. You know, the way we do when we have a headache. It’s a bad thing. We need to take a pain pill to make it better. Like that. I thought I needed to find a way to make the pain of grief “better”.
Then this new thought arrived that informed in me the idea that the pain did not have to be anything other than exactly what it was. That it was, in its own way, beautiful. That it was exactly what I needed to be feeling and that I didn’t need to change that. This allowed me to really let go of my judgements about it and to feel it completely.
And with that, something unexpected began to happen. I began to find myself healing emotionally too.
Emotional Healing of Grief
It is when we truly feel the pain that it can begin to pass through us. When we try to "not feel it", then it remains within us. Like a thorn that will fester and poison us. So I allowed myself, as and when I could, to go there. To feel it. When the pain arose for me, I felt it. Sometimes that resulted in wracking sobs. Sometimes gentle tears. Sometimes waves of sadness and loss. And each time I allowed and surrendered, I actually felt the pain passing through my being. I felt it being processed.
I found myself becoming aware that, though it didn’t seem to be so at the time, I could begin to sense that I would eventually heal myself of this loss. That it was but a matter of time.
I could feel that healing was happening. And when the healing was done that the love that was between Zing and I would remain.
And so I find myself now, not even two weeks after Zing died, in a state of acceptance. I miss the little guy. I would have him back in a flash, if I could. But I am okay with the fact that I cannot. I am finding joy in my life again. I am okay. And life goes on…