A few weeks ago, my unconditionally-loving Golden Retriever, Papu, died tragically and suddenly. He was not quite 8 years old. He was not the brightest Golden Retriever and was born with some birth defects. At an early age, we had refused to put him down but it became evident we had to, to relieve his non-reparable injuries.
His job in life seemed to be just to love us. We will never forget his insistence on laying his huge head on our lap whenever we sat down, and his patient waiting near the dinner table– on the offhand chance that we would give him a scrap or drop something on the floor. He loved to eat and would eat anything! We’ll never forget his insistence that we retrieve a toy from its constant hiding place under furniture, as he excitedly guided us to just the right spot. Now, whenever I close my eyes, I can see him in different places, doing different things, and I miss him terribly.
Not too many mornings since his departure from our lives, while walking our other dog, Keesha, around our lake, my eyes filed with tears and my heart was still crying at the loss. How Papu had loved thus walk! I knew that this was an opportunity to extend love to my thoughts of grief, but I could not find the strength to take that mental action. The grief was just there, and I could not step back from it. So I asked my higher power for some insight, though I did not think that I was connected enough to hear anything. But it came anyhow and here is what I received.
Grief is a feeling that is part of being human, and as long as I accepted being in this world, I also accept without fear, all the incompleteness and feelings of give and take, having and loosing, that it entails. I do so without the belief that I am less than a child of God in my reality. Acceptance is a flavor of love when it is without judgment. Judgment is the attachment of a flavor of separation to any thought or emotion. Did I feel separate from the loving dog because I could never feel his head on my lap again, because I could never throw a ball for him again, because I would never be able to take him to the ocean again and watch him frolic in the water? Yes, indeed I felt that loss and the absolute finality of the separation of death slapped me in the face. But I do accept the feelings of loss, those feelings that are so much a part of this world. I chose to embrace them for the time being.
I thanked my higher power for its compassionate way of pointing out something to me. I realized that my practice of the first Step has become integrated for me. I don’t always have to take the action of extending love, when I am being an extension of love with my feelings. I just let the feelings be what they are. I grieve. I miss my Papu. I’ll probably always miss him, but perhaps someday soon, I will go beyond the tearful stage. Most of all, with all the Love that I know surrounds me and is me, I accept it all and allow it to be what it is. There is no need to push away the feelings of loss. In time, their impact will pass, and the only change that will have lasting consequence is my appreciation of having had him in my life, as well as the experience that it is okay to hang out with grief for a while. Reality will never change. The love we are and the love that Papu brought into my life will never change. It’s there, in all its compassion, surrounding the grief and extending on its own.