This is what grief can look like.
First sunny Saturday in weeks. Wearing a t-shirt, drinking my tea on the deck. And feeling a deep pit in my stomach…
This photo was taken one month after my dog Hank died and the grief is so very real.
Just a day or two before my husband Joey and I made the difficult decision to put our little guy to sleep, the sun was shining – and the three of us got to spend a couple of hours out on our deck together. Hank and I both fell asleep under the sun that afternoon and I can’t describe how grateful I am that he got to enjoy one of his favourite things – sunbathing – one last time.
Fast forward one month and no amount of warmth or sunshine can take away the pain of him not being beside me.
I thought this whole grief thing would have gotten easier by now. I’ve lost loved ones before, so I thought I understood it. But I didn’t… I’ve never experienced loss like this. I’m in a whole new world and I’m learning how to stumble through as I go.
I’ll be honest: I did not realize how much Hank was actually a therapy dog to me. As someone who suffers with depression and anxiety, I knew he was a comfort to me during down or stressful times. But I never gave him full credit for the in-between times. The day-to-day, when just having him next to me meant that I didn’t even begin to let my thoughts take me where they wanted to go. He just calmed me through it without even trying.
And now, my thoughts have me paralyzed. The fear and dread that goes along with every decision I make – to get out of bed, to leave my house, to eat – is almost unbearable.
I am lost like I’ve never been lost before.
I feel like grief on it’s own is hard enough. But grief piled on top of a base of mental illness is seemingly impossible. When your thoughts aren’t linear or rational to begin with, the weight of grief can lead to a whole new level of darkness, loneliness and self-deprecation.
So I just have to blindly trust that what everyone is telling me is true… That it doesn’t matter how far along in my grief I think I should be. That I have to be patient. That I will be strong enough to get through this... in time.
I am not okay (and that’s okay).
So, I am committed to feeling my grief.
I am committed to being honest and doing what I have to do for myself and my mental health.
I am committed to taking baby steps each day, taking steps backward when I have to (whether I like it or not), and holding Hank in my heart for the rest of my life.
I know how much Hank would have loved being out on the deck in the sunshine with me on Saturday… and I would like to think that he was. 🖤
It’s the last day of mental health week, it’s Mother’s Day and I am sharing something deeply personal... I don’t expect everyone to understand this, but when you long to be a mother, you may view your relationship with your pets in a different way. My dog Hank was my best friend, he was a member of my family and – to me – he was like my little kid. Being a “dog mother” is possibly the only way I will ever know “motherhood”.
Don’t worry, I know rationally that it’s not the same. But I loved him in a deep and profound way... and I am grieving the loss of motherhood as I know it. I am grieving the same today as I was two weeks ago when he left us. I’ve slipped into a depression like I’ve never experienced before and I simply can’t see through it... yet.
Understand it or not, this little guy was like a furry, farting, snorting little son to me. He made my life a little brighter and I’m just not “myself” right now without him snuggled in beside me... assuring me that everything will be okay, like only he could. 🖤
As a mental health advocate, this blog is dedicated mostly to my experiences living with depression and anxiety.