I chose this picture since it seems to represent what we do not want to show. The cement stairs seem to still be solid, very much present under the worn and weathered wooden stairs. I believe we are like these stairs. It is inevitable as we become older to experience grief through loss. For me, mid-life seems to be the age where I am experiencing back to back grief. Change happens, sometimes drastically and not all together planned. When that happens sorrow is bound to set in along with grief. What is the difference between the two emotions?
an unfortunate outcome : disaster
—used chiefly in the phrase come to grief
To me, sorrow is what we feel on the onset of loosing someone or something important. It involves the tears and any outward emotions that we exhibit. It is the pained look on our face, the tired, worn out movements that often accompany the burdens from grieving. Grieving or grief is the process itself. It is the foundation of our sorrow, in comparison to the picture, grief is the cement stairs, sorrow is the wooden stairs.
Time often wears away sorrow. In my case, the loss I experienced yesterday when I buried a stray cat I had named and loved for 2 weeks has caused me to grieve. I shed tears of sorrow on the way to the vets to pick up his body, I joyfully picked out three small plants that I hope thrive across the street from this rental where I buried him. I purposely have not breathed a word about his demise to many; a few neighbors now know, but that is all. In retrospect, only a few neighbors actually saw him, and perhaps one other really knew him like I did. The grief and sorrow will be felt for a while, he was a good kitty, pretty awesome in my book, yet his feline HIV would have infected (If it hasn’t already) others in the neighborhood. Someone also had traumatized him by burning the pads off his front paws. He was a mess, in pain and would have cost too much money to keep alive. I felt like God, in a bad way, having to decide what is best for my healthy kitten and my bank account, which is always precariously low, and sacrificing his life for the quality of life of the other dozen or so cats that roam the neighborhood. Of course, my own kitten as well. As it stands, not listening to my intuition may have cost my healthy kitten his own life… although I was told HIV cats can live years before succumbing to the disease. The cost associated in getting “George” ( think the abominable snowman…”I want to hold you, pick you up, pet you, squeeze you, love you…) healthy, in that he would be ‘healthy’ enough for a little while as I struggled to maintain his disease cost wise, was going to be more than I could possibly afford. As it stands, I am looking for a new home myself by the first of July. I won’t have rent it looks like past that time.
It was a tough decision and one I couldn’t wait days to figure out what to do. Had I had thousands in my bank account with a steady job that covered my needs continuously, perhaps I wouldn’t have had to make that decision. The sorrow I express and the grief that lays in the pit of my stomach are proof that I am not ok with the decision I made. I regret that I was forced to make such a decision for another, even if it was an animal. I do not regret taking him in, earning his trust and loving him for two weeks. He will always hold a place in my heart and I struggle to understand with my limited knowledge what lesson I was supposed to learn through knowing him.
By nature, I am an empathetic person. I know that the last few years I have become hardened, angry and protective of my compassion, forgiveness and trust. Innately I trust even when others may not. I trust that the process is exactly what I need, that there are lessons learned through every interaction I have with others, the outcomes and decisions I make. Having George in my life has shown me how to balance that compassion, empathy and trust with others once again. The Universe is telling me to let go of the armor I’ve placed around my heart and continue to attract love and give compassion when I see it is needed.
I was at the counter to pick up George’s body when my phone rings. It was the mediator and she was calling me about the divorce I initiated but couldn’t follow through with. In my mind, I had run out of ways to keep the relationship going. I was stonewalled at every turn it seemed and I felt he obviously no longer loved me. I didn’t want this process to stagnant like the last two years of our marriage had. Funny thing is, like George and the stairs in the picture, there was possibilities, hope, yes hope attached to my soul that I honestly wasn’t ready to let go of. The mediator had mailed him the paperwork at my request, two weeks ago and he had returned it to her yesterday, signed. He is ready, he sees no hope, he is done. I am kicking and screaming, I am exhibiting sorrow, I am not ready, I still hold fiercely onto HOPE. I will forever love him, even through the mean things we inflicted on each other, as I cannot turn off that feeling like a light switch. I will not go back to him knowing the daily disrespect he showed before I left would continue, yet I can’t seem to move on in my heart. Yes, we would have seriously needed to work on the foundation of our marriage. I did still carry hope that we could turn it around and rebuild what we had chipped away in hurting each other. Twenty years is a long time to be with someone and allow in the few final years the relationship to die an agonizing death. Grief sits like a boat anchor deep within my spirit about this death of our relationship. I have exhibited sorrow outwardly and although it was good to have other people accept that, I feel I only can carry on so long with that type of outward expression. We tell each other to move on, get over it, yet it remains a large painful sore that will take years to heal, enough to not be a hourly reminder, only aching like arthritis from time to time.
I will close this post with a quote. I found this at my favorite thrift store last month, a greeting card placed in a plastic picture frame. Remember dear reader, we all are grieving something. Be kind to your fellow person because you never know what is hidden behind the smile they plaster on their face.
“Grief, like the ocean comes in waves only to recede and come yet again. But with it comes healing. Memories wash ashore and are bathed by the golden sun. Grab hold of those memories and let them fill the emptiness.”