Grief is Like Glitter

Grief is Like Glitter is my May/June editorial in Desert Health News. You may know that Luna, our Labrador Retriever, died on December 27, 2020. My editorial addresses some of the complicated issues of grieving the loss of a pet.

When Luna died, my profound grief was compounded with guilt and second-guessing. Guilt for choosing to end her life, guilt for wondering if we should have made the decision sooner, and guilt for grieving a dog when on that same day, 1,230 people died of COVID-19.

There is no one way to grieve, we all do it differently. What’s important is that when you grieve, allow yourself to feel what you feel and ride the emotional roller coaster that is carrying you through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

In the weeks leading up to her death I decided that I would never have another dog and her death only affirmed that decision. Her death was far too painful, and I never wanted to experience that level of pain and grief again.

A few weeks after Luna’s death, our daughter fostered a rescue dog and her four new-born puppies. When my wife came home from meeting them a saw a delight in her eyes that I had not seen in the last year of Luna’s life. When I finally went to meet the puppies, I told myself it was for the pleasure of puppy breath and that I would not allow my heart to be won. But there is a black and white little girl that just wants to love and her tail twirls like a helicopter rotor when she is held or given a belly rub. With a sense of betrayal to Luna and great trepidation, we inquired to adopt this puppy. When my wife got the call that the shelter had approved us, I loved seeing her excitement – she was like a young schoolgirl with joy –  and so we have welcomed Harley into our life.

April 12, 2007 – December 27, 2020
Luna spent many hours on her throne to survey her “Queendom” on Bainbridge Island

Grief is an experience that is never the same and I know that like glitter, grief never goes away. This new puppy will not fill the void or take Luna’s place in my heart. Luna taught me to be a better version of myself and I hope I will always be praying, “God, let me be the person that Luna thinks I am.” Grief never goes away, but I am starting to learn to walk with the grief and that includes opening my heart to allow for new love in my life.

Harley at 10 weeks old
Photo by Kathy Rappaport
Flash Frozen Photography

Grief – It will always be there – somewhere

“Grief is like glitter. You can throw a handful of glitter into the air, but when you try to clean it up, you’ll never get it all. Even long after the event, you will find glitter tucked into corners. It will always be there – somewhere.” ~ Author Unknown

These are some things you can try if you’re dealing with grief:

  • Allow yourself to ride the emotional roller coaster without judgment.
  • Be gentle with yourself and welcome the kindness of others.
  • Accept the process. Over time, your memories will bring more smiles than tears.
  • Never confuse acceptance with forgetting. You’ll come to accept death, but that doesn’t mean you’ll forget.
  • Practice self-hypnosis, meditation and other mindfulness-based techniques to find peace in your mind, heart and soul.
  • Allow for the possibility to love another pet again.

Read Grief is Like Glitter

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I feel the love in my life.

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