Tag Archives: grief

What Doggone Grief Looks Like

8 May

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It’s been five weeks since Penny passed and one week since I lost Watson.

I do not spend my days lying in bed weeping. I have tried that with previous losses and it just makes me feel sadder and fatter from lack of exercise. Not to mention, I have two silly, sweet, hungry hounds who need my attention and would not tolerate my refusal to change out of my PJs and take them for walks and throw the ball and open and close the door 400 times a day.

Humans have this weird idea that everyone grieves in the same way, but it’s just not true. Some people can’t eat, while others eat everything in sight (“I fall into the latter category,” she says while finishing up a piece of vegan dark chocolate). Some people cry so much they really should drag around a saline drip to make sure they’re hydrated while others can’t make the tears come (I cry at dog food commercials, so that should tell you what category I’m in). Some people wear black and drag themselves through their days like Goth teenagers while other wear Hawaiian shirts hoping the bright colors will cheer them up (Aloha!).

One thing I do to process grief is write a lot of jokes. I’m a comedy writer and teacher. Processing negative emotions with humor is not only what I do, it’s what I teach others to do to help maintain their sanity. This week, I’ve written more than 100 jokes – not many of them about my dogs, but all of them fueled by their departure. Laughter works as a form of tension release and if you can create the laughter yourself, it’s even better.

There are other ways I’ve been grieving that some might consider odd:

  • I refuse to vacuum because what if I remove the last of Penny or Watson’s hair from the rug? (I know I’ll have to end this moratorium at some time, like when the dirt and dog hair gets so high my other short-legged pups have to wade through it. )
  • I wear Watson’s dog collar around my neck sometimes. And Penny’s occasionally as an ankle bracelet. Just around the house. Not out in public – although never say never.
  • When I’m feeling really down, I sprinkle some of my babies’ ashes in the back yard and sit with them.
  • I now have a co-pilot when I drive. It’s a worn-out koala hand puppet named “Koality Bear.” This bear has been in the back seat of the car for five years. It was Watson’s “humping bear.” Every time we went for a ride, he got so happy, he had to hump something, so Koality Bear, it was. Now Koality rides up front, strapped in with a seatbelt. Don’t worry, I won’t try to use the carpool lane.

What I’m saying is that as long as you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else, when it comes to processing grief, you do you. And if I see you wearing a dog collar in the store, we’ll give each other a knowing nod.

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