We said goodbye to our cat Maggie yesterday. She was way too young at 6 years, she got sick way too suddenly and shockingly and mysteriously, the wheels of diagnostic medicine turned way too slowly, and we were faced with a choice we didn’t want to make way too soon.
Along the way to goodbye, we met an extraordinary vet, felt helpless, hopeful and hopeless all at the same time for weeks, experienced huge emotions and memories coming up from our whole lives, tried to make wise decisions based on little evidence, and saw how differently we all – my husband, our nearly grown daughter and me – experience life, emotions and decisions.
Maggie was my “husband’s” cat, our dog is “my” dog. And so the decisions were ultimately my husband’s to make.
And our marriage, and our connection, and keeping the important things front-and-center, and our ability to feel and to love and to share and be real with each other and get through together and accept even this tragedy as something to bring us all closer – that all showed up.
There is such a huge difference between feelings and thoughts. When tragedy and high emotion hits – it’s so clear to see.
Love is always the answer, and yet it’s so much more comfortable to run from it.
There’s love you feel, love you radiate, love you give, love you make a mental decision to bestow, acts of love, things you do that are loving, love you receive…
Some love requires doing something, like taking care for someone or something or especially ourselves.
And some love requires only that we feel.
So – can we “do” love even if we can’t “feel” love? Can we “feel” love even if we’re paralyzed and can’t “do” love?
Almost all of us have “limits” of what we can feel at any one time without blowing out our circuits – or so we think.
Something that happens right now can trigger a long-ago trauma that would be emotionally nearly unbearable – even though what’s happening right now is very, very bearable – perhaps even an opportunity for “personal growth.”
But the trauma is so intense, we can feel ourselves shut down – like a film goes over our hearts and bodies, like we just fade into the background, everything fades to white…and we cannot feel. We go numb, right when we most want to feel love or do love. Right when we want to be here, we go away.
And when you’re saying goodbye to someone you love, the feelings and the traumas and all you want to do and say and change, everything going on in your heart and everything going on in your mind – and everything that seems to be happening inside you like it’s on “automatic pilot,” all the intense pushing from inside you to resist saying goodbye, to change the ending, to alter the universe, to throw the scientific “steps” of grief out the window and create your own new truth…
…it pushes you right up against the one thing that makes the difference in your life, and that’s faith.
I don’t mean religious faith, though that can be wonderful for so many of us, or spiritual faith in a more mystical and new-agey way, or even faith in ourselves and our ability to survive and bounce back and take care and manage and make decisions.
I encourage you to explore and use all of these, as I do, to help you find and practice the bottom line of faith – and that is that you can ACCEPT anything that happens, feel ALL possible and seemingly impossible to bear feelings – and decide to be happy anyway.
Decide that you are important to the world, that you being able to feel, to share your feelings, to feel however you feel at any given moment and still choose happiness over despair for the long haul is important for the world. It is.
A decision to bring peace, love, and happiness to the table of the world is the right decision. And the decision has to be made with your mind, first, and then your heart will show you the way…moment by moment. Right here, right now, this leaf, this flower, this piece of paper, this book, this fluff on the carpet, this sound, this cloud…
Not that you’ll always feel happy, because feelings are always morphing, the “Soup” is always holding all feelings for us to feel. But the “mindset” that whatever happens will not take you down for long will allow you to bounce back up, and then find a new place for yourself at a higher level of happiness. A higher level of love.
The mindset is that your reason for being here is love – to feel love and to do love and receive love, and that when you get that straight in your mind, and then let your body feel what it feels without restraint – all the bouncing from feeling to feeling and thought to thought and even from intensity to numbness seems – right.
You don’t have to fix it. You just have to love it. You don’t have to control it, you just have to love it.
You can look at goodbye in many ways. Choose the one that feels the most intensely positive for you. Even if you feel foolish choosing a positive, fanciful, spiritual, imaginative way – choose the one that makes you smile, makes you laugh, makes you lift your chin up and look around. Choose the one that offers possibilities.
We all want to shut doors and go down dark roads. It’s how we were brought up.
Change direction. Even in grief, love speaks loudest.
My loving wishes for you as you say goodbye to old ways of being, to old thoughts that no longer serve you, to people and animals and things that move on in a mysterious way.
Make a faith for yourself that makes it okay. It’s okay to make it okay. It’s okay to cry and feel anger and still smile at things that catch your eye and remind you of why you’re here. Love. Whatever it looks like.
I’ll be here with you, swimming around in my soup, bouncing and crying and smiling, and looking my husband and every one I meet out in the world in the eye while I feel all that. Let’s do this together. Let’s allow our minds, hearts and bodies to open to love. Right here, right now…this leaf…this word…this chaos… this sound, this rain, this breeze, this person…