Grief, noun: Deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone's death.
Oh, Grief. Occasionally it visits me and teaches me new things about the human experience. There are rites of passages that no one can prepare you for. Recently, I got the call that my childhood dog was being put down. My dad had come home from work, and she had a stroke. Not being able to move her body, my dad knew it was time to let her rest. She was 14, we knew it was coming, but still, it hurts.
Living on the other side of the country there are some things I can’t be present for. Saying a proper goodbye to my sweet dog is one of them. The other strange thing is that since I’ve moved out here, seeing her infrequently is normal. I’m grieving the loss of a dog that I’m already used to being far away from. It’s a very weird thing. I’ll be going about my day fine, then I’ll remember she's passed, and I’ll feel sad or tear up again. It comes and goes.
I want to discuss grief and slow living with you today, as the topic is so ripe. Feeling emotions is so important to me, positively vital. I’m learning new things from griefing my sweet pup about leaning into sadness and being resilient.
Often in the United States, the dominant cultural expectation is that feeling happy and joyful is good, and feeling anything less than that is bad. What happens when good and bad are taken out of the vocabulary? I’m feeling grief. Is that good or bad? Well, really, it's neither. I’m having an experience of an emotion, like a deep sadness, due to the death of an animal I loved very deeply. Is that good or bad? It’s neither. It just is.
Slow living does not mean my life isn't busy or chaotic, my life is probably the busiest it’s ever been. However, the choice to live slowly means I prioritize my time and value what I commit to. It also means I value being present for my life, instead of living on autopilot. This presence allows me to feel, and what a glorious gift that is.
It’s often uncomfortable to lean into feeling, especially when feeling is counter-cultural. But feeling what is present is a radical act of self-love. Feeling what is present gives me the strength to ride life's waves.
My dear dog, Lexie, had a large impact on my life. The day my dad called to tell me the news, I spent some time laying of the floor crying. The floor felt good, solid. When I got up, I told my partner that I might be crying on and off that day and to not worry, he didn’t need to attend to me. I knew I had the capacity to feel each wave of sadness, and allow it to release. By feeling, and releasing, I trust my emotional wisdom to find healing.
Slow living and feeling go hand in hand. Making feeling a priority has changed my life. It gives me space to honor the transitions that are sticky or uncomfortable. I have not mastered the ability to lean into feeling yet, in fact, I’m just beginning the journey. There is so much more juice to come, I know. I wish you the best in all your feeling today, may my tears find your tears and rejoin the ocean together. All love.