It Comes In Waves

Just when I think: Now I think I’m going to be all right. I realize that I’m not.

I might go a day, two days, nearly a week and not feel terrible sadness and grief. Then it is regurgitated by a sound, a sight, a smell.

It is in the changes of the seasons. There is a melancholy that falls around me like a cloak with the continuous movement of time.

Because one thing is ending. Something else is beginning. And endings are a form of death.

Abi was a life force all her own. She was rambunctious and silly and unique and charming all at the same time.

There were times when she had me at my wit’s end, and other times she had me laughing till I cried.

It is so hard to accept that she is gone.

Her spirit, that life force, where did she go?

I know what is left of her exists in a small box of ashes in my apartment. But where did the essence of her go?

Grief quote

I have learned that there is no getting past grief. It isn’t something you file in a cabinet of important papers.

It isn’t a rope with an end. It isn’t a sentence with a period.

It just is. And it continues with no real end.

Some may be thinking: why isn’t she getting over this?

Grief isn’t just phases, though I once thought it was. Grief isn’t a passage to a bridge on the other side. There is no other side.

Grief quote

You don’t want a lost loved one to be relegated to that place called distant memories.

Good things, by their nature, are fleeting. It’s those that bring us grief that linger. – Megan Hart

I will never forget the day that Abi died next to me. I will never forget watching the breath leave her little body. I will never forget seeing the life leave her eyes and then glaze over.

It didn’t end there for me. I go on. In my apartment and on my patio,  everywhere I look, I see her.

I gave away two chairs on my patio. One was her favorite. I thought it might help me to not see it sitting there empty.

It didn’t. Now I see the space where the chair once was instead.

Grief quote

I remember when I was a kid, I would hear my elders sometimes say, “Alrighty, then.”

Maybe it’s a Southern saying. Or just an old time saying that my generation might recall.

It is what people say when there is an awkward pause and their discomfort moves them to end it.

It is like a place holder, a semi colon that provides breathing space. An interlude.

It is what someone says when they don’t know what else to say.

Alrighty, then.

Grief quote

You may grow weary of my sadness, the incremental writings about my grief.

You may be thinking “alrighty then”, because you just don’t know what else to say.

That’s okay. I don’t expect you to respond or feel compelled to comment.

I just want you to be there.

Because grief and the sadness that comes with it comes in waves. And like the force of the ocean, there is no stopping it.

72 Comments

  1. Hi Brenda,
    I find the first comment harsh and judgemental.I lost my two Westies ten years ago and still grieve. I grieve for every bun that passes(I rescue buns).We give them our all and they give us more in return..
    I have found counselling helps grief,as it’s easy to dwell especially if we live alone.
    Very best wishes,

    AnnMarie

  2. Remember Brenda ~ however your grieve (and for how long), that is what is right for you.

    Abi’s spirit lives on in your heart, for as long as you draw breath.

    Hugs ~

  3. Brenda… please please please don’t listen to the negative comments! Either they have never lost a beloved pet, no matter what that pet was… or they are the kind of person who just doesn’t have the deep connection and feelings that so many of us do to our animals… and that’s okay we’re not all the same… but you are so right in how you’re dealing with this… it’s still new and it can be so raw at times… it will never go away completely as you know but the days will get longer in between… you have many understanding friends through your blog and even though we’ve never met we understand and we care?

  4. Brenda, I understand what you are going through. The sight of something or a smell can bring the memories all rushing towards you and it can be so overwhelming. I think the best thing you can do is to continue to write on this blog and share with all of us who care for you and Charlie and have wonderful memories of sweet Abi from what you have shared with us. Personally, putting pen to paper, and you do this so eloquently, is the best therapy you can do for yourself. We are all here for you my friend. There is no timetable for grief; just ride the waves and you will hit landfall.
    Carol and Molly
    xoxoxo

  5. Tears are rolling down my cheeks !I think you wrote this for me .
    I have had so many losses this year and last that I feel like my grief will overtake me .
    Like you it comes in waves .In your writing I feel exactly the same as what you write about your grief . I agree with all the other folks when they said people all grieve differently and it is a thing we all must go thru at our own pace .
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing this beautiful piece !
    I know you are helping so many others like myself .
    Even though it hurts we are making it one day ,one hour ,one minute, at a time !
    Thank you ,hugs to you and Charlie !

  6. I have lost dear pets too; when you get a pet you know that in all likelihood you will outlive them. That doesn’t make it easier when their lives end. Your pain is yours. Everyone mourns in their own way. Your life does seem more isolated than most. You live alone, you rarely have company and you dislike going out in public. Your work is done in the same place you lived with Abi, and you are reluctant to go out because you worry that your absence causes anxiety in Charlie. Your isolation makes it harder for you to get over Abi’s death. You have large blocks of time to dwell on it and relive her loss. I do not think your writing about her is obsessive or unhealthy. I think it helps you to deal with her loss . For those of us who lose a beloved pet, the grief is real and sharp and deep. Getting out , going to work and socializing can help you forget your pain for a little while. Your circumstances keep you mired in remembering and reliving her loss. Time will help blunt that jagged hole in your center feeling, but until then, I am happy to hear your stories about Abi’s habits and personality. That ‘s what friends do; we listen, commiserate and cry a little with you because we know how much it hurts.

  7. it’s all been said. and best by those of us who have walked where you walk now.
    there will always be the indelible memories of saying the last goodbye. be kind to yourself.
    and patient with yourself.
    it’s the love of little beloved Abi that should and will stay. and that precious Charlie boy as well.
    Elaine from Toronto perhaps said it best… ” Abi’s little spirit lives in your heart and Charlie’s, too. She is as close as your next thought of her. She will always be near you. ”
    we love you dear bean. xo

  8. My my … if Brenda needs the couch then she has a whole motley crew here who best be joining her. How many have come here attesting …months later …YEARS later? Hmmm …I wonder why they say this?

    Your write up is lovely Brenda. It is eloquent and exacting and is so very true. Grief doesn’t have a period and there is no happy place we go in grief where sunshine and lollipops abound. This isn’t the nature of grief nor was it ever intended be.

    Always respect your tears and never ever allow anyone to take from you the meaning of why you have those tears. There is so much more to life than happiness and those that always want to persist in some state of happy remain infantile.

    My boy Brenda – if there was a particle of my being that could have loved him more I know not where it was. He was so much to lose.

    More importantly, God works in mysterious ways they say and indeed He does. For in that boy and because of that boy he taught me not only what what love period really means but that He uses ALL creatures for his will be it human or otherwise.

    If that wasn’t alot to lose then I know not what is and you too dear Brenda have experienced something very unique in your dear one. Treasure it.

    And thank you for your courage to walk this road of grief and share it abundantly with others.

    This is to your honour Brenda and not your disgrace.

  9. Brenda, reading your post and several of the comments has me almost in tears as it reminds me how strong and real my own grief is at losing my beloved Tavi dog. It’s been since mid-February of this year since I made the judgement that his life should be ended because he was sick and not able to get better. I still have–and I think always will-the scene in my living room with myself, my friend, the vet and Tavi all on the floor while the shots were given and he quieted and was gone. I tho’t my heart would break. I have a vivid memory of my friend and the vet placing him on a little gurney and carrying him to the vet’s SUV and lifting him in. I see myself leaning over and kissing him goodbye. I think those scenes will never leave my memory and they bring me to tears, which probably need to be shed as I haven’t really shed many. I don’t let myself feel the pain and loss very much.

    I don’t think anyone can know how another person’s grief should proceed. I know that the comments encouraging you to seek counseling are made in love. But I don’t believe that is necessarily what you need to do. Like the one person who commented said, as long as you aren’t neglecting to eat or care for Charlie or sleeping all day or are dysfunctional in other ways you just need to allow the grief to surface when it will and roll with it. If your grief is still deep, why shouldn’t it be? And mine, too. It’s only been MONTHS since our dear ones left us. For grief, that sometimes feels like only hours or days. That’s just my perspective, but I think if you consulted with a grief counselor, you would be told the same thing. And I think by sharing your feelings with all of us who love you you are facilitating the healing you need to occur. Be patient. Trust your inner wisdom. Call on those you feel care and treat yourself compassionately. I feel strongly that you are grieving in your own way and that’s okay.

    Hugs for you and pats for Charlie.

  10. Yesterday I was second in line at a Goodwill store and the woman making her purchase was crying. She then told the cashier that she was sorry for crying but her son had just had to have his 16-year-old dog put to sleep due to failing health. The woman said they’d gotten the dog when their son was just 12 years old, so the son was now 28 and losing a companion from childhood. The cashier and I told her we felt so sorry for their loss. And I do feel for her, just as I do for you, because as she talked, she demonstrated how our pets are like mile markers in our lives. We remember what was happening in our lives when we got them, and we remember how they were there for us during other happy and sad times. And we will never forget how we felt when they passed away. In the past two years, I lost my daughter who was 29, and two cats who were siblings, the brother reaching 15 and a half and the sister just past 16 at the time of their deaths. When each cat passed away, it was extra hard because not only did we lose them, but, we also lost a link to the past that included my daughter, who had held them when they were newborns. In time, the severeness of grief will lessen, but every now and then there might be the occasional episode of intense pain. Your loss hasn’t been so very long ago, so take a few deep breaths, let them out, and know that when you write about your loss, there are many others who have had a similar experience and are willing to share a few tears and a few smiles at the memories.

    1. I know you miss your daughter so much. We’ve discussed this and I know how hard it is for you. And the loss of your cats, I am so sorry.

      1. Thank you for your compassionate response. I truly appreciate it. I want to add that I’ve been impressed that even though you are grieving, you still are taking care of very important issues, like your cataract surgeries, Charlie’s health issues, and keeping your blog going and your household tasks going. You’ve started new crafts and a household improvement project with the new office space. You’ve kept your garden in a state of beauty. You are staying in touch with your daughter and grandson. You are taking vegetables to people in the apartment complex. So, I think you are doing pretty darned good!

  11. Brenda, grief is something we can’t control. Loss of Abi was traumatic! (I know…I probably spelled that wrong). It is different for everyone. Please take care of yourself and Charley. Things will change after a time. But as it is different for everyone we don’t know when it won’t hit so hard. Grief is like that. I think that these memories that make us cry or feel down is our brains way of staying sane. These things can’t be stuffed away and ignored. It just doesn’t work that way. These crying spells save you from a major problem.

  12. Sometimes, it helps to Write about grief and then there are times that we need to Talk to someone about our grief. We, as your readers genuinely care about you. When my brother was murdered , it took me four years to get the courage to TALK to someone but only after I wrote a Creative writing class essay about him. My professor gently nudged me into grief counseling. I realized that I had so many unresolved feelings about all of the tragedy that I had suffered as a child. I had learned how to adapt but I never fully understood the concept of acceptance. May God help you find what you need to help you through your grief.

  13. Writing about your grief can help you. You will never forget your beloved dog. I still get a little teary eyed when I see a picture of my sweet Lab, Bonnie who died several years ago. I still have her collar. When your pets become your family, it’s like family dying so I completely understand. One day at a time and I hope you can get another puppy one day.

  14. Brenda I think that most of us have been there. Grieving is part of life. My Maggie has been gone for almost 2 years and I still grieve for her, sometimes sit and think about my sweet little Maggie. I do think that seasons and weather changes have a lot to do with the grieving.
    I love the fall season and the Christmas season, with all of the colors, but sometimes I feel very depressed this time of the year. I sometimes feel very alone even though I am around many people.
    We have all been there….

  15. I am here. Others are still here. Your grief is real. You mentioned that an end can feel like a death. I think when other things end, it brings our grief to the surface, and so we grieve . Please don’t feel bad about sharing your feelings, keeping them bottled up isn’t good. I believe the way you have written about your grief has helped many of us deal with all sorts of things that we grieve. I know it has helped me.

  16. Brenda. I have not commented here before but feel like I should on this subject. I too have lost many pets, of all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles. Three years ago this month I lost my two beloved corgi boys, 10 months apart! There is not a day goes by I don’t grieve for those silly, adorable bundles of joy, sorrow,
    frustration. They both had horrible physical ailments that were devastating in their end days. I took care of them when others would have given up. I loved them, dearly. My children had all left home, my
    father had just passed which was another devastating blow. They were my life, apart from my husband,
    who shares this grief as well. I can’t imagine not feeling grief and sorrow and missing them. It would be as if they were never important to me. You will be okay, but sorrow hits us all differently an d it is okay to cry now and then. Take care of yourself and seek joy in your life. It helps.

  17. You’re doing fine, Brenda. It’s not a straight path, this grieving. Not point A to B. I know as I’m going through it too. Since January and I know it will go on. Everyone is unique.
    Take care,
    Mary

  18. Grief does not have a schedule; it comes and goes on its own. It seems that by expressing your feelings through this blog, it is a form of healing in its own right. And your words help all of us who have gone through the same experience. Thank you for sharing your world with us.

  19. I think some of these comments are a bit harsh. Little Miss Abi Rose hasn’t been gone very long at all. And grief does not ever go away, you just learn how to live with it and that can take a very long time. Grief is something we have to go through alone and we all grieve differently. My vet told me that she had to put her dog down a year ago, and that particular dog she felt was her soul mate and she said sometimes she will be driving down the street and become so overwhelmed and start to cry that she has to pull over and it’s been a year. Now that is coming from a person who deals with euthanasia on a regular basis. I lost my own dog about the same time as Abi Rose and I think about her a good part of everyday and at night when I can’t sleep, wondering what I could have done differently. I think it is just a normal part of the grief process. Another dog appeared in my life out of the blue but he does not lessen my grief, even though he is a distraction. And this time of year does not help the situation, it is very melancholy. Having Charlie is a blessing and a great source of comfort. And Brenda, this post was so appropriately titled, it does come in waves and it will for a long time, but you will learn to live with it. I think the older we get the harder it is to deal with loss.

    1. People who do not understand this depth and length of grief can have their own opinions, but they aren’t my opinion. It is what it is.

  20. My Centa passed away 2 weeks ago today. Baron and I miss her so very much. I am on my own and my dogs are my best friends! Colleen and Baron

    1. I think it often makes a difference when you live alone without other humans. Just as you wrote, our pets are our best friends. And I am so sorry about Centa.

  21. Oh Brenda so eloquent about the grief coming in waves when I have bouts of it like a tsunami! Do not let yourself be shamed into thinking this is not normal. As another single woman, my dogs serve a role in my life that can only be understood by like-minded and compassionate individuals. My Xach was a personal protection dog for me and added to a need for safety that I have since surviving the okc bombing. A year and a half gone and I still mourn him. Our pups are like service dogs with intuition. Sending you love and understanding.

  22. I have to jump back in and support Brenda. I think Brenda is very normal in her grief and not at all unhealthy. I experienced the same loss almost 2 months ago and I reached out to Benda. While dealing with her own pain, she has offered me kindess and support. Believe me, as many of you understand, this hurts. Like Abi, my little Chihuahua was my heart dog and it is an overwhelming loss. Unhealthy would be curling up in a ball, which believe me I have felt like doing. Brenda has continued to take care of herself and Charlie, spend time with her daughter and grandson, decorate her apartment, see the beauty around her and rêach out for support. I am by no means a professional, but she has been an inspiration to me. Perhaps because of the pain I feel I am extra sensitive to comments, even well-meaning ones.

  23. Dear Brenda, There is nothing to be ashamed of – to miss something that gave you so much love and caring. This may go on for some time, and you should let it. My sweet lab Bo passed away in 2012 – until the past year I couldn’t speak of him without crying….Now I remember his sweet loving ways and all the funny things he did, and how much he loved me and my kids. You will feel that way some day too, but don’t rush it. People will understand, especially those of us who have loved our pets as you did – one of your family.

    1. I am not ashamed of how I feel or how I’m grieving. It’s a natural process for me and it really doesn’t matter to me if others don’t agree. Thanks for your support!

  24. I thought I needed professional counseling after losing my 16 yr old dog till I adopted another one six months later. I don’t know what made me adopt again, other than urging by my then coworkers. I kept thinking to myself that I for a year took such care of my sick doggie and tried to make him well and knew I had to face that awful decision one day. I think that was what harder for me to accept was I had to make that judgement call. I still think of that every day, 5 years later. So maybe for me professional counseling would not be on accepting grief as much as how to live with myself when I think I am so strong and I really don’t like determining when lives should be over, etc.
    Possibly it’s more about me needing to be needed by my pet and feeling I let them down. It’s all these thoughts that I struggle with so you are not alone and please continue to voice and know we understand it all. I find those who have no compassion of living with pets or want one, really don’t care why we wish to be home with them, not go away on vacations without them, nor understand it’s a terrible hole in our hearts when we our pet isn’t next to us anymore.

    1. Certainly, some people just don’t understand. They may not see pets as you and I do. My pets are every bit as important as people to me.

  25. I understand how you feel and I think it is better to talk about your grief than keep it to yourself. I don’t think it is unusual for us to feel grief for a long time. We lost our Dani six years ago and I still miss her every day. It doesn’t hurt as bad as the days go by which helps.

    1. If talking or writing about grief makes some people uncomfortable, they don’t have to read it. I write it for myself, and for those of you who are also grieving.

  26. ALLOW YOURSELF TO GRIEVE AS YOU NEED. GRIEF IS AS UNIQUE AS THE LIFE WE MOURNE.
    PLEASE DO NOT REGRET THE WAY YOU FEEL, IT IS A PART OF YOU AND THE NEVER ENDING LOVE YOU HAVE FOR ABI ROSE. IT’S ONLY BEEN A FEW MONTHS SINCE AN ANGEL THAT SHARED SO MANY YEARS OF YOUR LIFE HAS GONE . . . . BUT HER ESSENCE, HER SPIRIT IS ALL AROUND YOU. . . . ALLOW YOURSELF TO EXPLORE THE VARIETY OF FEELINGS, LAUGHTER, TEARS AND EVEN ANGER !
    TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND SNUGGLES TO SWEET CHARLIE ROSS !

  27. Oh Brenda, I am so sorry you are still dealing with a grief that is so overwhelming. I understand and believe one has to grieve until they are done, however, we have to, at some point, realize when it becomes unhealthy. I think it has reached that point, dear one. Have you considered moving to another apartment? Maybe the memories are just too strong in your present home. That is just a thought but it might also be just what you need.

    Grace & Peace,
    Pam

    1. Well, I can’t afford to move to another apartment. I would have to pay all the fees just as when I moved into this one. But I have to disagree about it being unhealthy. It’s not unhealthy to miss someone you love. Grief is not a ticking clock with a set time to go off.

  28. Brenda,

    You know I understand every single thing you said. Every single thing. In over a week from now, it will be 2 months for me and it hurts that it’s been that much longer. The changing of the season was hard because it meant she would never have another Summer. Our grief comes in waves. It is normal. We are normal.

    Susan

  29. It has been one year since I lost my Maggie Mae. I still mourn her all the time. I think is a personal thing. Many get over loss quickly, while for others it takes forever. There is no set time for grieving, and moving on. Please be patient with yourself!

  30. Hi, Brenda, Abi’s little spirit lives in your heart and Charlie’s, too. She is as close as your next thought of her. She will always be near you. Hugs from Elaine in Toronto.

  31. Brenda,
    I do not think you need counseling as suggest in the comment above. Grief is hard on everyone and everyone is different in how they grieve. We are all unique individuals and we deal with our loss’s and pain in different ways. Time will help you cope better, but your loss and pain will never go away. The only time you need to seek out a counselor is if it is inhibiting your life. If you were not taking care of Charlie or yourself or engaging in life. Stop eating, sleeping etc. So ignore that comment and know what is happening with you is normal and everyone grieves on their own schedule and way. I am sorry it is hitting you again. That is the beast of grief. It can feel contained and then a smell, memory etc. can bring you back to feeling that loss again. Talking about it is good therapy. Hugs.
    Kris

  32. It will Brenda,f for a very long time.
    My back lab was the last vestige of the parts of my life that changed the evening my husband passed,his wagging tail was what was waiting for me when I got home to a cold d dark house at midnight,we started a tradition of throwing his tennis ball 5X before I went to work and 5X when I returned,I often wondered if he wondered what happened to his world,one day he had mommy and daddy and went out when he wanted to daddy leaving 1 day and never returning and Mommy being sad,tired and crying and leaving for a long time every day.
    I see black labs everywhere at times,sometimes they’re being silly and I smile and others it brings a year to my eye.
    He crossed the rainbow bridge in January 2010,8 + years ago ,I love in a different place,my furkids are kitties now,he is still missed!
    Take all the time you require,it’s no one’s business but your own…
    God bless you and Charlie?

    1. Charlie spends every minute of every day with me unless I’ve gone out for a bit. I just had lunch with my daughter, but was only gone for an hour. He is my constant companion, and just as important to me as any human. As was Abi.

  33. Dear friend I completely agree with your grief. The loss of our girl over a year ago is still so fresh and at times overwhelming.Just when I can almost think I am ok it returns triggered by the most unexpected ways.The removal of a chair reminded me of the day Decker passed ,when retiring home after her death I removed so many facets of her .That way when my husband returned home he could grieve without triggers of her. I kept special things of hers and visit with them when I can face her loss. Today reading your post made me realize even now the loss is so great. So I guess I am telling you to cry when needed and rejoice in Abi`s life knowing you gave her all that made her life with you special.

  34. I think it’s time you seek professional counseling about your grief. It is obsessive and overwhelming to you. You write with such clarity about the pain you’re in, and as I fully admit I’m no expert, it does seem you need help.

    1. Jessica…I believe you are wrong. Brenda’s grief is in her soul, as in many of our souls when we lose a love that is part of us. There is no timeline with this grief. Sometimes that mutual connection and love with another being is so great … that when they die a part of you goes with them. All you can do is be gentle and forgiving with yourself while you learn to continue on. Maybe grief counseling helps…I don’t know…but obsessive behavior this is not.

    2. JESSICA, HAVE YOU NEVER SUFFERED A LOSS ? GRIEF IS AS UNIQUE AS THE PERSON WHO IS EXPERIENCING IT. I THINK YOU ARE BEING TOTALLY INSENSITIVE TO WHAT BRENDA IS GOING THROUGH AND SHOULD HAVE KEPT YOUR COMMENT TO YOURSELF. BRENDA NEEDS OUR UNDERSTANDING AND COMPASSION, NOT CRITICISED FOR HOW SHE’S HANDLING WHAT IS A TRUE TRAGEDY!

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