The Experience of Grief

January 5, 2017

 

2016 has just started and we are still full of good and positive resolutions to be happier, stronger, better, lalalala… However, it already sounds like "enough is enough!" with many people leaving us: David Bowie, the French singer Michel Delpech, Alan Rickman, Celine Dion’s René, the French-Moroccan  photographer Leila Aloui and… last but not least … my puppy Corbu who got hit by a car and who passed away on the 7th of January. I thought that it was time for me to write about grief. When I talk about grief, it can actually apply to any kind of situation that involves the loss of someone or something you loved: a break-up, the sale of a family house, a job loss…

 

Firstly, it is always a shock and we never really know how we are going to react. We would like to be warned because we would like to be IN CONTROL. The truth is… there is no way to anticipate grief. If you had told me that my lovely dog won’t be walking with me every morning a week before his death, I could have said something like “In this case, I die with him!” After the shock, we may come up with the weirdest ideas and feel “out of our mind”. That's not weird: that's normal to feel lost!

 

There are actually 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, acceptance and rebirth. In what I call “the dictorship of happiness” or the world we live in, grief can feel very disconnected to what we are supposed to feel everyday whereas it is such a natural response to a loss and the denial phase can take a little while. After break-ups, I used to be an expert: I was avoiding the pain by being busy 24/24 and going out until I could collapse on my bed without thinking. If I could deny my pain for a little while, I never managed to escape something: the BOOM-BOOMerang effect! Believe me, it is even worse since nobody understands why you cry 3 months after the break-up, especially after being “sooooooo strong”! If we allow ourselves to feel the pain ASAP, to acknowledge negative emotions and finally to remember that a lot of people would feel the same in a similar situation, we will probably be quicker to fall into anger or depression! It is an amazing news... I know!

 

At the stage of anger and depression, we often think that we are so unlucky, that we will never go through it, that we are nothing or that nobody can understand what we live. In my case, I could still hear my intuition telling me that I will be alright at some points. I was asking myself: “How?” “When?” “Where?” Ok, I never received any further details but I had faith. Confiding everything you think to trusted people or reading testimonials of people who have had similar loss can help a lot. If you let it go and if you don’t try to have a brave face, crying can also be an amazing release. Automatic writing also allowed me to get a better sense of where I was and what I was feeling.

 

After anger and depression, comes the acceptance. At this point, we wake up in the morning and we know that it was not a nightmare but that it is life. We would have preferred not to have to go through that challenge but we have accepted that we have no choice. Writing a letter to the person that you lost can be very meaningful for your recovery. Going back to places of shared and loving moments can be the opportunity to create new memories and to start again. I also see the benefits of a ceremony to state that from now, there will be a before and an after. Thus, I am actually going to leave Corbu’s ashes in the park on a special day that I will dedicate to him. Some of my friends who ended their relationship did organize a separation party together but it is really up to you :-)

 

We would prefer not being reminded that “What does not kill you makes you stronger.” but at some points, CRAZY but true ... we do feel much better and ready to take on new experiences. We may even appreciate more some moments, some people ... and see more beauty in life! Last year, I actually changed my whole life after loosing my two beloved uncles and I thank them every day for that. I like imagining their comments about what I am doing and take it or leave it but I can still hear them very clearly. In the case of my dog, I am grateful for having had this amazing time with him where I loved him with all my heart and where I have experienced unconditional love at a time where I needed it so much. Looking back at this time with Corbu, I also know how much I can love and how much I can receive. For now, I will continue to trust my intuition and to believe that another dog is waiting for me somewhere.

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