This song is stuck on repeat in my head. Just that line. Over and over. A constant non-stop ever since I woke up this morning dreading our 10:30 appointment at the vet. My (our) beautiful, wonderful, diabetic seizure dog is no longer with us. I hate all of the euphemisms for death, but I feel like I can’t say it like it is, even when I want to.
My dog is dead. He was already slowly dying and we allowed him to go before he began to suffer tremendously.
And so I sit here grieving. Grieving the loss of my cuddle bug. Grieving the loss of my sister. Grieving even though I don’t know how. Feeling guilty for focusing on the positives. Trying to force myself to sit in the pain instead of wandering off to facebook, to instagram, to twitter, to anywhere but where my feelings are.
Running from feelings is what I do. It’s what a lot of us do. Perhaps especially those of us with brains that like to take those feelings and magnify them tenfold. Maybe if I pretend this doesn’t hurt it won’t hurt. Maybe if I don’t think about it these feelings will disappear. Maybe if I pretend hard enough my sister really WILL be away at camp, or my dog really WILL just be at the vet for a glucose curve.
It’s not healthy. And I know it.
And so I am forcing myself to grieve. Even though I don’t know how.
The Kubler-Ross model says that there are 5 steps to grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Maybe. I don’t know about them being stages or steps or any sort of linear or non-linear path. I think they are all feelings one has surrounding death. Although guilt is missing. Guilt is definitely a part of my grieving process.
I think grieving is just a giant puddle of feelings that you jump into and wallow around in. With all of these feelings and experiences happening at once and at separate times and no matter what surrounding you and defining your every moment. I will never stop grieving the death of my sister. I will grieve differently for my dog. My dog was old. My dog was sick. My dog went peacefully in my lap.
My sister was robbed from this world in the prime of her life by cancer.
It is different.
She is ever present and yet she is always distant. Her life and death inform everything about who I am.
I choose to believe she would be proud of what I am doing with my grief. Even if some of it is being a workaholic. Even if I spend too much time at the coffee shop and not enough at home.
She would be proud that I haven’t had to go back to the hospital. That I put myself back on medication when I needed to. That I have stayed in therapy. That I have not self destructed, even this winter when I could feel the delusions creeping back into my brain. She would be proud that I am doing this work, whatever this work turns out to be.
Perhaps grief never ends. Perhaps that is the way it should be.
I finished my undergraduate degree for my grandma years after she died.
I blog and raise awareness about mental health and LGBT issues for my sister.
I live for my sister.
I love for my sister.
I ache for my sister.
She was taken from us far too soon. And sometimes I feel that maybe it should have been me. That maybe had I succumbed to the depression and ended it I could have been the sacrifice the universe demanded.
Which I know is pure bullshit.
A line from one of my favorite musicals, Next to Normal (about mental illness! And grief! Listen to it! Watch it!) goes, “he’s not here. . . he’s not here. I’m still here.” I can’t find the exact lyric where it happens, and there’s a chance it doesn’t and I made it up, and if that is the case, I don’t really care.
What matter is that I am still fucking here.
I’m alive, I’m alive I am so alive and I am going to live every moment. I am going to embrace every moment.
When (not if) you find yourself in the depths of grief someday, cling to the fact that you are still alive. That every breath we take is a miracle. Don’t take relationships for granted. Don’t take opportunities for granted.
It’s so easy to let life simply happen to you. I did for years, surrounded by the darkness and pain of depression.
Fight that shit.
Find the positive.
Don’t let this illness, or whatever struggles you have in life control you.
You are more than a diagnosis. You are more than your pain.
You are a beautiful rainbow unicorn.
For more on my sister and grief, check out: There is more to life than death and taxes