How I’m Handling My Grief
By: Mandy B. Anderson
I’ve been pacing. Just back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. That’s one of the ways I’m handling my grief this week. Pacing. I get back home and it’s like I’ve forgotten what to do with my life because life as we know it…has changed.
Six days ago we said goodbye to our fur-baby, Ajah B. It has been my hardest goodbye, even though I knew it was coming because of her health. We were both saying goodbye in little ways over the last six months. Honestly, I’m handling this better than any of us thought I would.
But the grief still comes.
Several times a day I find myself tearing up. Yesterday I went to go get the mail and found a card from Ajah’s groomer. Grief whimpered out of me as I slowly walked alone down the hallway back to my apartment door with tears spilling out of my eyes.
Saying goodbye to the fur-baby that I have known since she was a few days old has been harder than saying goodbye to any other pet. I will miss her forever.
My biggest goal for this week has been this: just get through and do my best. So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been giving myself grace to go slow, cry, remember, etc.
Actually, there are 10 things that I’ve done so far that have helped me handle my grief in a healthy way:
Walking & Talking
Nate and I got home on Saturday and the grief was so heavy that we found ourselves restless through our tears. So we laced up our tennis shoes and began walking the hallways and steps of our apartment. We walked for an hour and talked about our favorite Ajah memories, as well as the strange feeling of relief we had about not having to worry about her health anymore. And eventually we started making plans to do more things together outside this summer and to take spontaneous weekend trips out of town. It gave us something to look forward to and it was comforting to know that the sun will shine again.
The fear that I would someday forget all of the details and memories of our life with Ajah B. was haunting me. So at four o’clock on Sunday morning I found myself sitting on the couch doing the one thing that always helps me heal: sitting on my couch and writing in my journal. I wrote down all the small, precious moments that happened over the last few months that I wanted to remember, as well as my favorite moments throughout her lifetime. I’m still writing them down as they come, and it really helps me smile through the tears.
Coming home to an empty house, when Nate is out of town for work, is hard. The silence is so lonely – and I’ve actually come to enjoy silence over the years! But this kind of silence…hurts. So I began playing worship music in the background of my life. This is something I have done often anyway, but this week I’m super intentional about it. It soothes my hurting soul and helps me feel God because grief has a way of isolating you and making you think you’re completely alone. The other night the perfect song came on and I just stood in my living room, arms held high to Heaven, worshipping God through my tears and thanking Him for the fact that I got to be Ajah’s fur-mommy. It totally shifted the atmosphere and I didn’t cry for the rest of the night after that.
I’ve also been speaking God’s promises out loud when the pain is too much and it feels like He’s not there. Psalm 34:18 is the one I’m clinging to right now. It says, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
There are moments where I just want to lie down on the floor next to my Ajah B. again and pet her and look in her eyes. So instead, I lie down on the floor and let myself cry. And sometimes I even go pick up her soft, furry toy and hug it. It helps.
I’ve started putting together a photo album on Shutterfly. You know, just in case I ever lose my digital photos! It helps to look through her 13 years of life and remember all of it.
On Monday afternoon I went over to Miss Maddie’s house and watched Moana with her and Mason. We also cried and remembered and the three of us had a group hug. It was so sweet.
Tuesday night I spent the night on Raychel’s big gray couch. It’s a sectional so she joined me – she wanted to give me a new memory of a fun sleepover on the couch (without Ajah) so we talked and laughed until 2:30 am. It really helped to not have to sleep on that couch alone since I had always spent the night there in the past with Ajah B. snuggled at my feet.
Other than the first night, crying myself to sleep has not actually been a thing. (Surprisingly!) Instead, I allow myself to cry in the evening but then I choose something funny to watch on Netflix. It has helped me fall asleep without being so lonely. Probably because of all the endorphins that laughing produces!
I put together this memorial video of Ajah. It has some of my favorite photos of her, and the song I picked totally sums up our life together.
This is how I’ve been handling my grief.
So far. It’s helping. I realize that this might seem silly to some people. But I don’t really care. You see, Ajah B. was a part of my family. She was a part of the Big Blue Couch® family. And she will be greatly missed.
My prayer is that, through this blogpost, someone else might find some coping skills for their moments of grieving in the future. We can’t skip the grieving season. We can only go through it. When you find yourself in that season…may you go through it well.