Saturday, September 12, 2020

Acceptance

I learned pretty early on that my father deals with grief through sweat. He suffers a loss and rather than wallowing or folding in on himself, he gets busy doing whatever home/work projects needs doing. He goes into high gear hustling the pain away. I never understood this. When I suffer a loss, I tend to go the other way. I climb into my bed, pull the covers over my head, and cry the pain away. As an aside, this doesn't actually work, it just represents an inability to emotionally handle it. Being manic depressive affects the way I'm able to process emotional pain, I'm self-aware enough to know this. 

When I lost my pup one awful Friday in August, I did exactly that. I folded up and sobbed. For a long time, I just shut down and gave in to it. Then, I pulled myself up, picked up all his toys, labeled the box, and put them in the garage. I can clearly see this was denial. I couldn't look at them. I cleaned up all the messes he had made, because he was a messy little guy. Then I went back to being completely disabled by grief. 

The next day, Saturday, I considered staying in bed. Instead, I got up and did the only thing I could think to mitigate the gaping hole in my heart. I cleaned the bedroom and the kitchen, I cleaned out closets, did all the laundry, and gathered up all the trash from every waste basket. I de-cluttered and my house looked better than it had in a very long time. I took my dad's approach to dealing with the pain and worked it off. And, strangely, it helped a little bit. I still cried myself to sleep, but I felt like I had managed it in the healthiest way I knew how and that brought me a little bit of comfort. Every day went like this, cleaning, working, or both.

Yesterday was a month since we lost Chewbi. I spent the morning acknowledging our loss, our house has been so much emptier without him. If I had to say where I am now, I'd say I've come around to acceptance. I know our sweet boy isn't coming back. Still, I sort of sense his presence, in a way, and while I know that sounds crazy I don't mean in a ghost dog sort of supernatural way. I'm starting to bearably remember the happy times we had together, the sweet things he would do, and occasionally I'll think I hear him or feel his presence.

The truth is, I don't know how best to process grief or if there's even one healthy way. What I do know is that this time I worked pretty hard to try to do something other than just let it crush me and that has to be healthier than sinking into the depression and letting it swallow me. That's not to say there weren't moments the depression kept me in bed and others when I couldn't swallow the tears. But, I pushed back and I feel okay about that. ♥

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