Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

On an island of grief

19 Comments

“You, yourself, are the eternal energy which appears as this Universe. You didn’t come into this world; you came out of it. Like a wave from the ocean.”

Alan Watts

I have not been feeling the energy these past few weeks. I have not been allowing it to flow through me just as I have not been allowing myself to tap into its eternal flow.

I have not been trusting the eternal energy of the Universe to carry me out of the depths and through the waves of my grief.

Instead of being one with the ocean, I have been searching for the wave to carry me out of deep water, rather than trusting the wave to find me simply because I am part of the wave.

Last night, a  dear friend called and we had a long chat about life and living and playing small/large/indifferently. My friend moved away a few years ago and since his leaving we have stayed in touch, more and more sporadically. It isn’t that we don’t still care about each other and cherish our friendship. Five minutes on the phone with my friend and my entire being revels in the free-flowing thinking, radical way of seeing a conversation with him always generates.

In a conversation with my eldest daughter a few days ago, she shared what someone had told her about grieving the loss of a family pet. Often, they said, our pets are the ones we share our deepest thoughts with, our secret sorrows. They love unconditionally yet, when they die, we tell ourselves we should get over it, they’re just a pet. In our culture, there is no room to simply grieve the loss of a pet without the guilt of feeling like we’re giving too much attention to their loss.

I have been trying to get over Ellie’s passing. I have not been allowing myself the grace to move through it by giving myself room to breathe and grieve without judging my process.

It wasn’t until I spoke with my friend last night and we spoke of Ellie and all she represented in my life, that I saw where my tiredness of the past few weeks has come from.

It isn’t just that I miss her. It is that in her being, she carried my secret sorrows, my hidden fears, my silent grief. In her being, she carried me and though I fed her and walked her and pet her and brushed her and loved all over her, she was the one keeping me safe from falling into the abyss of despair so long ago.

And I think that in her passing, I have been afraid to look into that abyss for fear I might fall in. And in my fear of falling in, I have created what I fear the most — feeling sad.

I don’t like feeling sad. For most of my life I remember my mother being sad. No matter what I did, how much I laughed, how hard I smiled or tried to please, my mother was always sad. Feeling helpless to ‘make her happy’, I moved into anger, resentment, disdain. In my teenage years I feared I would become sad like her and plastered on a smile that nothing and no one could displace. I was Happy, dammit and nobody could hurt me. At least, not that I would allow them to see even if they did.

My smile was my shield and I stomped through life smiling indiscriminately.

In the last year of Ellie’s life, I could feel her energy waning, feel sadness emanating from her body. What I didn’t realize until I hung up the phone last night and let myself sink, without judgment, into the sadness of  losing her, is that it wasn’t her sadness I was feeling, it was mine. In my fear of losing her, I wasn’t living in the moment of having her in my life, I was thinking about what it would be like when she was gone. And I was sad – but I wasn’t going to admit it, dammit.

What I fear I create.

I have seldom allowed myself to feel sad. At least not for any length of time. My fear was, to allow sadness would mean I would be just like my mother and having judged my mother as lacking in moral/emotional fibre for always being sad, I could not, would not allow myself to feel a natural out-pouring of grief over the loss of someone very, very dear to me.

Emotions are natural responses to circumstances. They change. They flow. They evolve. My mother’s sadness was not of her making, it was an expression of deeply felt sorrow she never knew how to express because there was no safe place for her to express it. And so, she held onto it for fear letting it go would leave her stranded on an island of grief.

In my subconsciously pushing down feelings of sadness, I have been just like my mother,  isolated in sadness, and forgetting the antidote is not to isolate, but rather to connect.

My mother is a beautiful, heartfelt woman. She is kind. Caring and loving. There is much of her character I would like to emulate. Perhaps its time I let myself off the judgement wagon and allowed myself to simply be all that I am meant to be when I let go of fearing emotions that simply flow in response to the world around me.

They are not mine to keep, to hold onto, to possess.

Now is not forever. This too shall pass and I will always have that which I need the most — LOVE.

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Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe we each have the capacity to be the change we want to see in the world, to make a world of difference. I believe we are creative beings on the journey of our lifetimes. It's up to each of us to Live It Up and SHINE!

19 thoughts on “On an island of grief

  1. Elgie,

    Well … here’s how I see it:

    If you are right in your spirituality, and if Ellie has a soul, and if there is a dog-heaven – or whatever combo you believe, that ask yourself these questions:

    1. what would Ellie have you thinking, feeling?

    2. what if things were reversed, and it was you who had died – what would you wish for Ellie, and she for you?

    3. what is most important – the past, or the future you now have with greater learning in place.

    OK, I know I don’t believe all that stuff you do – but, you do!

    See the whole world with you in it, not separate from it, as we all see you – one with the universe.

    Cheers,

    Mark

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    • Hi Mark — all of what you write is true for me. Grief doesn’t care. It needs to flow, to let loose, be set free. And for me, I am allowing myself the grace of trusting — this is important for me right now. 🙂 Hugs

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  2. Thank you for sharing this sacred process of grieving with us, Louise. My thoughts and love are with you.

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  3. You are so in tune with the universe right now. This judgment of your sadness is now open to your awareness. Perfect!

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  4. Such a powerful insight that arises from the deepest part of you.
    This is the beginning of healing and transformation Louise.
    Be with all of it.
    Know that you are loved – always.
    Val xo

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  5. Hugs to you my friend. I can sure relate to what your daughter said about people not feeling right about grieving the loss of a pet. I faked my way through the loss of a beautiful shepherd/wolf cross over 20 years ago and I still think of him and miss him every now and then.

    You know how they say that when you pass from this life to the next, you are greeted by loved ones? I know that one of those greeters will be my dog. 🙂

    Diana xo

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  6. It is good that you are allowing your feelings for Ellie to just “be” as that is all one can do when we lose a beloved pet. I don’t believe that one “gets over” any death. We must slowly get used to all the feelings of lose and eventually our grief finds a place where it is accepted within our psyche. There is no time limit on grief as each of us is different. I can recall months (perhaps more than a year) of expecting to hear “Winston’s” happy noise whenever I entered the house. Even now, after all these years I think such happy thoughts of our Springer Spaniel. It is thanks to you that you sent him to live with us when I was so very ill. There is no doubt, at all, that a dog is an amazing being who can help us heal. May you find peace and solace knowing that you gave Ellie such love and may your heart be peaceful. Your loving sister, Jackie

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    • Thank you Jackie — I think Winstone thought he was living on heaven on earth when he came to live with you! I know GM was really happy he was gone. He didn’t particularly appreciate Winston’s endearing (to me) qualities! 🙂

      And thank you for the loving support you always give. Love you too big Sis!

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  7. I’ve mourned some of my pets more than I’ve mourned the loss of some of my relatives — and I feel like the pets deserved it. Your posts have always made it clear how much you love Ellie and it absolutely makes sense that you would be grieving for her. As always I love your ability to look into the situation and dig deep.
    Now that you’ve mentioned it, I realize that I kept that mourning by and large to myself — though pet lovers always get it — because I know many people think pets don’t deserve it. They’re so wrong, aren’t they?

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    • Yes, Leigh — they are so wrong! Our pets definitely deserve our loving attention, and capacity to grieve — as they play where ever they are running now, I believe they are sending Love our way so that we can grieve in Love and heal in joy — the same joy they gave us all through their lives with us. Thank you my friend. Love and hugs to you.

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  8. I used to think that I must always be ‘happy’ and not show sadness. I now know in order to heal from any grief I must truly feel the intensity of the pain of sadness first. It is the intensity of the pain that is a signal as to how much they truly meant when alive. It is only then, after feeling that intensity, is it possible to let the sadness go and look back with gladness on what had been.

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  9. “What I fear I create.” Wisdom at its simplest and inspires deeper thought for me. Thank you!

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