It’s true. The world does not pause while you grieve. It doesn’t even shift to a lower gear. The hours just keep passing, as though your heart isn’t breaking once again.

There are so many things one must do. You still have to eat and sleep. Pay bills and get the oil changed in the car.

The trees keep leafing out. Little green nodules bud out on all the branches. Nature seems to come alive again after a long and peaceful sleep.

Life Goes On:

Wars keep waging. Soldiers keep dying.

Children in various parts of the world keep starving.

Holidays keep rolling around. New Years’ and then Valentine’s Day and Easter. Memorial and Labor Day. Halloween, Thanksgiving, and finally Christmas.

You see, it doesn’t matter that your heart has been broken into a million pieces. You’re supposed to gather the shards around you so that no one else will be touched by them.

Because our culture is not tolerant of grief.

Your heart still keeps breaking because of your sudden loss. There is no stopping it.

Prolonged grief disorder (PGD) has been included as a new mental health disorder in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases.

Researchers study diagnostic algorithms, the time between death and months of significant impairment. As though the time matters. Grief is still grief. Loss is still a loss.

Everyone wants a timetable for your sadness. They want you to hurry up and stop grieving and close this chapter of your book.

You get through an hour, then a day, and finally a week. One week ago tonight was when my grief began manifesting itself.

Three Pets In Less Than Four Years:

I’ve lost 3 pets in less than 4 years. And cried for hours and felt like I’m withering up inside.

I’ve faced the world a little at a time because my emotions are unpredictable.

I could be looking at plants at the nursery and tear up. I’ll turn and walk away because no one wants to see evidence of your sorrow. It isn’t acceptable.

The day begins when the sun rises and then hours later the sky grows dark. Stars sparkle from the black velvet blanket overhead as they always do, night after night.

People start planting their gardens and trimming their yards. Lawnmowers begin to appear in garages. Families plan barbecues and get-togethers with neighbors.

Time just keeps going while I am grief-stricken and tears run unchecked down my cheeks.

The World Doesn’t Pause While You Grieve:

The world does not pause while you grieve. You may be emotionally stuck at that moment when you found your loved one no longer breathing. That is yours alone and something you cannot share.

It is fixed in your mind, glued there as if you’ll never see past it.

Planes keep lifting off. Trains keep moving down the track. Pile-ups keep happening on the interstate.

Babies keep being born. Wailing their way into the world out of the darkness of their mother’s safe womb, red-faced and fists shaking.

Because the world does not pause while you grieve, moments turn into hours and hours into days.

It was one of my first thoughts this morning when I woke up. The reminder that the world does not stop while you grieve. Not even for a second so you can try to catch your breath.

There is no merciful delay while you seek a way to soften the loss that is sharp edges of glass piercing your skin.

No interlude as you try to find your way.

There is no comma after the sentence to allow for a temporary rest.

Because no matter what, the world does not pause while you grieve.

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66 Comments

  1. Finding a safe place to grieve is indeed hard!! I hope you can Brenda…at least with 1 other person or so…but in ways it is still a solitary thing because our relationships are so different among people, and with our pets etc. I am so sorry you have to go through this…no doubt made worse by your injury and pain too!!

  2. A heartfelt and touching post… one I can relate to wholeheartedly.
    I’m sorry for your very sad loss of little Grace.

  3. Loss comes to all of us. It pervades everyone’s life. Small losses, great, heart-rending losses. Yet, why is it still so, so painful? Some people experience more major losses in their lives than others, yet what would be minor in the eyes of some is major to others. Some might not think that losing a pet is a major loss; we know that’s not true. Anytime we love and care for someone or something the potential for great grief is there at its loss. The more we invest our time, love and energy in a relationship, be it human or “other” the deeper the grief at it’s loss. I think that is the kind of grief you are experiencing at the death of Gracie. It’s major and, really, it honors her and your relationship with her. So you must cry all the tears you have inside for not having her in your life anymore. No matter what anyone else thinks or feels or says. It’s your absolute right to grieve in your own particular way with no apologies. And so important to your physical and mental health.

    Sending hugs and healing thoughts.

  4. Brenda, this post is both sad and true. People are afraid of grief, sadness, pain, illness…they do not know what to say or how to help and often times they do not want to say the wrong thing for fear they will offend.
    Grief will suck you into a dark hole that feels like your life will never be normal again and then one day, a long time from now, you can think of your sweet “fur kids” without crying and take joy and comfort in your time with them.

    For all here that have lost their beloved pets and those who have lost a child, parent, significant other or loved one…I think that is all of us, my prayers are with you.

  5. Brenda, the only thing I think you have to remind yourself on those days of great grief, is that all the love you gave to those pets. If only every pet in the world had a caretaker like you.

    1. I sometimes wish I could live out in the country and be able to rescue lots of pets. I would like nothing more. But I don’t think physically I’d be able to do it.

  6. My heart goes out to all. We all grieve in our own way to help us cope and make it through another day!

  7. Incredible post Brenda. You describe exactly the feelings surrounding grief.
    When my Dad died I remember feeling so angry when someone laughed at the funeral. How dare they laugh? Don’t they know my Dad just died?
    A friend mentioned a few years ago after our cat died that you become accustomed to their absence. I couldn’t imagine it at that time but it has proven true. I think about her a lot but the grief has dulled down.
    Take care Brenda.❤️❤️

  8. I just wrote about I know all about grieving and told the horrific story why and b4 I could hit send it disappeared!!!
    So frustrating!
    I’ll be praying for everyone that’s going thru it on this blog and in the world!

    1. I’m so sorry! I don’t know about comments, but did you know that if, immediately after you accidentally delete text, you can hit Control & Z and it will reappear?

  9. Absolutely to all of this.

    I remember the day after Phil died. The next morning, I was actually enraged that the sun came up and that the birds were chirping! I was wailing and said, “How can this be?! How is the sun shining and the birds chirping when my son has just died!!” I also remember feeling angry that people were posting every stuff on Facebook like nothing had happened either. Like life just went on for everyone else…but MY life had stopped. I felt like the whole world should stop with mine.

    I know now that all that sounds totally unreasonable, but when you lose a child, there is no other horror like it in the entire world.

    And as you know, I lost my cat, Zippo 3-1/2 years ago and Monkey two months ago. And now Clementine doesn’t have much longer to live. It tears my heart apart just thinking about it.

    Love and blessings to you, Brenda.

    1. Melanie, I think of you often. Because of Phil and for all the recent losses you and Brian have suffered. I know that you are waiting, wondering when the time will come for Clementine. And that has to be the most horrible feeling. I felt it with Charlie.

  10. A very true and special post, Brenda. Thank you. I wonder if not only is it a cultural thing, but fear that makes people intolerant of grief. My husband passed four years ago and sometimes it feels like it was longer and sometimes it feels like yesterday. And that sorrow can grab you at any moment, with seemingly no trigger.
    So sorry for your losses, Janice and for the other readers who are in this club.
    Brenda, I was thinking what a difficult day this would be for you. We are all here with you.

    1. Thank you for remembering that it was a week ago today. I still haven’t been able to get the blood out of the carpet from where it was around her mouth.

  11. I appreciate your kind words, Brenda, and those of all my friends on this site. John was my only son and my Chihuahua Nina had been my best friend for 20 years. She died in my arms. I am so sorry for all the losses that have been mentioned. Our lives have been changed forever and we are now members of a club that we never wanted to join. I love each of you.

  12. Hi Brenda,
    People don’t understand unless they’ve experienced loss. Since 2006 I’ve lost my husband, 4 co-workers, my best friend, 3 cats, 3 dogs and both my parents. For me grief never goes away. I take one day at a time. There are good days and sad days. You never know when something will bring it all back. A friend said she wished she could understand how I felt. I said imagine every single person you love in your life, and your pets, are gone and you’ll never see them again in this world. That will give you an idea. I’m fortunate that I still have my brother who lives 100 miles away. I don’t see him often but at least I know he’s a phone call away. I’m also very grateful for the stray cat I took in last May. He’s been a great comfort especially when I lost my Bichon in November, she was 18 years and 3-1/2 months old. That was like losing part of me. She was in good health until the very end, just a very old lady.

  13. Brenda, Your post today brought me to my knees. I have been chastising myself for not moving forward. I too have lost two beloved pets in the last two years, but next month it will be one year since my son died and I just can’t seem to move beyond it. I avoid people, because the tears are so instant and uncontrollable. I don’t want to put that on anyone. My last sweet dog passed away only last month and losing her just magnified all the other losses. When I cry for her, I cry for my son even more. Does that even make sense? Thank you for your post today. Sandra

    1. I’ve been avoiding people too. When I talk to my nextdoor neighbor I might be fine and talking about gardening and suddenly I’m crying. It’s a process. It might be a lifelong process. Grief doesn’t have an expiration date.

    2. I’m so very sorry Sandra! No parent should ever have to live through the loss of a child. I don’t know how you can move past that. Hugs.

    3. Sandra, I don’t know if you will see this reply, but I have lost a son, too. My oldest son, Philip back in 2009. He was 21 years old. Your loss is still new…the grief the first few years especially, are incredibly hard and awful. I can promise you that things do get easier as time goes on…it will be easier to breathe and smile and be with other people. But you will have a broken heart like no other forever. I am so sorry that you have lost a child, too.

  14. When there’s grief, you have to grieve, and people who don’t, or don’t know how, carry a heavy burden with them. Grieving too long is probably not very healthy either. I think most people know when it’s the right time to move from active grieving to another kind. Our people and our pets never leave our minds and our hearts; they are always there. And sometimes you will see them in your mind’s eye and your eyes will fill with tears, but you will probably be smiling at the same time. It’s the love and the happiness and the memories bubbling up. Maybe not the best phrase, but I think of it as happy grief.

    1. Wow. A very good description Donna!
      Wondering, as people (all of us surely) with intense feelings when we loose any loved one, how do we respect them & theirsuffering?

  15. I currently have a 14 year old springer spaniel that I love to distraction. She is our very first house pet as our other dogs were outdoor kennel dogs AKA pheasant hunters. Sweet creatures but not on the same level as a true house pet. Last summer I lost my husband of 37 years. My fur baby was and IS with me throughout this miserable grieving process and I don’t feel alone because of her. She’s my comfort through long lonely days and nights. I cried in her fur more times than I can count. But I know she’s nearing the end of her life cycle and I’m scared to death to face it, probably within the next year. I’m enjoying her in the present, but the horrible thought of losing her inevitably creeps in now and again. Then I truly will be alone and the grieving process will start all over again, raw and exceedingly painful. Until you’ve experienced that kind of loss you have no idea what it’s like. People don’t fully understand which makes them uncomfortable I think. Since losing my husband I am so very empathetic to those who have lost close family members (that includes pets) and friends. I get it now. I’m a member of the club that no one want to join.

    1. I know where you’re coming from. When I lost Abi in 2018, Charlie became sick (or they discovered his heart illness) five days later. I was grieving Abi and then I had to think about losing Charlie. It was overwhelming. And every time he seemed to be sicker I knew I was going to have to face his passing before very long. And time does not stop to let you catch up.

  16. My heart goes out to all who are grieving especially you and Janice. Everyone grieves differently and the hate going on in the world today adds to my sadness.

    1. Ah yes. So much hate. So many people think they’re right and everyone else is wrong. I don’t understand the hate. Seems to me it takes too much energy to feel hate.

      1. I understand, Brenda. And it’s okay to take your time.
        My sister died unexpectedly 20 years ago. My overwhelming emotion at the time was “what’s wrong with these people walking about in their normal existence? Don’t they know what’s happened? Don’t they care?”
        So, yes. I do understand. Completely.

    2. Yes yes.
      Myself also Cindy.
      Acquaintances & friends, we are all terribly sad and highly depressed 😔 seeing this r-war.
      Many of us cannot watch news programs. Just maybe a quick glance. Way too difficult.
      The seniors who are very often confused as to why it is happening. Then many of the precious children, might think they are going on a vacation.
      All of it, is more than hard for us to witness and bear.
      I grieve for Ukraine 🇺🇦 😪 every single day.

  17. Grief is a feeling that controls every aspect of one’s life. Our oldest son, died of Cancer, 22 years ago, at the age of 34. My husband and I still grieve for him, but we still celebrate his life. His daughters still grieve, as we do. When somebody says “It’s been 22 years ago, and you’re still sad? You are so right, many just don’t understand, nor do they want to. There are memories that make you smile and laugh, and then there are those that make you cry. As you posted, and life goes on…

    1. Yes. I so agree.
      Our dad died of a horrid cancer at only 62 years old.
      So many years ago. I was a young teen. We still think about dad all the time. Always in our thoughts.
      I often find myself planning (in my mind) meals for him!
      Foods dad never tried before.
      Or to talk about cars, fishing, and how or if RC Cola still tastes the same! Etc etc.
      You just never forget. 💔

  18. There are times when I completely recognize that I’m still grieving for my husband although it will be 16 years Monday that he passed… I’m very irritable from the last week of March through April 11th,my mind is in that hospital room reliving watching my best friend succumb to brain cancer.
    I don’t attempt to explain it to anyone as I’ve no doubt the reaction would be to get over it already…
    So you take all the time you need to grieve for those sweet babies and us, your faithful readers and sometimes commenters will understand.
    Gentle hugs💓💗XOXOXO

    1. For many years I would find myself sad but not knowing why during the month of April. It’s amazing to me that I would not remember it was my Grannie’s passing until the date she died or the month was over. I suppose it was my brain trying to protect me from the anguish.

  19. Dear Brenda, a poignant post that speaks to me, also. Recently with some experience I was going through, I tearfully said to someone – “See? this is what I mean, when I say that living without my beloved daddy is so hard!” And the person was incredulous – “Jean, the old man died in 2007!” So you see why it speaks to me …….

  20. Brenda, your post hit close to home. As you may remember, I lost my son, my boyfriend and my little Chihuahua all within six days. Six days! Its a wonder I’m not crazy. But life goes on. It is heartbreaking for me to realize that the next chapter of my life won’t include the loved ones I lost. Thank goodness, I have my little dog Sammy who gives me great joy. Grief is just love that has no place to go.

      1. Thank you, Gaby. I don’t think I will ever heal from this but I must learn to live with the pain. Not sure how I can do that.

    1. I do remember. Six days! It is incredible that you’re still walking and talking. Just incredible. I’m so sorry. My heart is with you. And I’d forgotten that phrase: “Grief is just love with no place to go.” I love that phrase. Thanks for reminding me of it. I looked up who wrote that: “Grief is just love with no place to go.” | William P. Spence Funer

    2. Janice, there are just no words to describe how very sorry I am for your losses. I can’t even begin to image what you are going through. I don’t know that I could survive so much pain. My heart goes out to you.

  21. Your words are so true, the world around us just keeps moving along as we stand still in deep grief. I truly know what you are going through!

    1. I agree with you that some or most people do not know what to say. And most of the time a well meaning person will say the wrong thing. I have found a quick hug, a listening ear or two from others; and watching your self talk are appreciated. You talk to yourself more than anyone talks to you. Being grateful and assisting others has been healthy for me. You are loved and you are not alone.

  22. Beautifully written, Brenda! Thank you so much and you’re absolutely right. By the way while you grieve people walk away from you because either they don’t understand or don’t want to understand.
    Gentle hugs!

      1. I think a lot of people may be uncomfortable with the display of emotions. They don’t know what to do. And some probably don’t know how to deal with their own emotions very well let alone those of others. And some people are just big jerks.

      2. I wonder why that’s so, since most everyone will experience it at some point in their life. You’d think they’d be more understanding.

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