Grief…It Just Takes Time

“Heidi, can you meet at the end of the day”, an incoming text read.

“Of Course, is everything ok?”

“Yes, I actually have amazing news”, she typed in all caps.

The last number of months I’ve made myself always available for this particular girlfriend. Her needs and emotions had been all over the map since she tragically lost someone.

Overwhelming sadness and unpredictable anger consumed her most days.  Yet lately she’d started covering up her sorrow with a happy hysteria.  I worried the combination of heartache, frustration and exhaustion was taking its toll on her.

Arriving to the restaurant, I was pleasantly surprised to see sparkling wine on the table and an excited friend waiting.

The moment I sat down she couldn’t hold the news in anymore.

“I got a promotion at work”, she shrieked.

“Congratulations”, I screamed and enthusiastically raised my glass. I was a little surprised, but thrilled to hear she finally had some good news in her life.

For the next hour we chatted about her new position and future plans. She seemed genuinely happy for the moment.

Yet after a visit to the ladies room the familiar somber and sad person returned.  The evening was definitely feeling like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation.

“Did something happen”, I asked.

“No, nothing happened. But I should feel ecstatic. I just don’t understand. It seems like no matter how hard I’m trying to move on and have fun again, sadness keeps creeping back in.

My heart sank for her. I knew this agony all too well.

When my kids were much younger, I told her, we owned a beautiful English Bull Dog we called Chansey. Named after a Pokemon character (funny how the craze is back again).

Her stature and bark could be intimidating, but in reality she was a big old teddy bear. We adored and loved her.

When Chansey was three our family decided to put a swimming pool in the backyard.

From the moment they broke ground to the days that followed, we all watched from behind a construction fence like enthusiastic spectators at the zoo.  It wasn’t long after that before the pool was starting to take shape.

Three weeks later the safety fence came down. The pool was finished and officially open.

Arriving home from work that evening was a mad flurry of chaos.

Mike dashed into the kitchen to get dinner started. The boys ran to the basement feverishly in search of their new pool toys. I ran upstairs to grab bathing suits and towels.

We were all dizzy with excitement to take the inaugural swim.

“Chansey…..Chansey”, I could hear Mike yelling from downstairs.

I didn’t think much of it and continued rustling through bedroom drawers for suits.

“Chansey…Chansey…CHANSEY”, his call seemed a little more serious now.

Alerted by his tone, I ran downstairs to see what all the hollering was about.

“I can’t find Chansey”, Mike frantically said as we locked eyes.

“OMG you don’t think she got outside do you?”

Mike’s complexion turned pale white. “She can’t swim”, he gasped and sprinted out the backdoor towards the pool.

I just stood there frozen. Praying Mike would find her wandering around the yard.

“God No”, Mike’s voice painfully echoed throughout the yard.

Then a splash.

We never swam in the pool that season. We closed it the next day.

The weeks that followed Chansey’s death were miserable.

We missed everything about our beloved Chansey.  Her excitement when we arrived home. Her silly playfulness and even her deathly farts.

Our home felt desolate.

Desperate for all of us to feel better we impulsively purchased a pup and called her Emily.

The first few days were fun. It felt great to have a dog in the house again.

Yet as the weeks passed, sadness re-emerged and our feelings towards Emily changed.

It didn’t matter how hard we tried to love her. She was a band-aide covering up what we didn’t want to feel.

We didn’t want another dog. We wanted Chansey back.

Eventually we found a wonderful family for Emily. It broke our hearts to give her away, but we knew it was the right decision.

The problem with placing a band-aid on a wound that doesn’t need one is it doesn’t heal. Some wounds need air for a scab to form and the healing process to take place.

It took us two years before we were ready to adopt another dog.

Now it’s been nine years since we brought our Bulldoggie Abby home. A few years later Hailey, a mixed breed joined our family.

Two amazing dogs we may never have met if we didn’t realize we were trying to cover up our grief with a quick fix.

Now sitting in the restaurant I suggested to my friend that she shouldn’t be so hard on herself. The loss of a loved one is like a tattoo on the heart. Permanent. Forever.

Grief, however, is not.

Don’t postpone, deny, cover up or run from it. Allow it and be with it. The sooner you accept it, the sooner it will pass.

It really will come to an end. It will just take time.

Written by Positive People Army Founder – Heidi Allen

If you like this story you will love “A Wink From the Universe”

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