Throughout the year, it seems we experience a variety of emotions based on past life events and experiences. From smells to seasons, the entire year is full of reminders of good memories, or harsh reminders of lost loves and broken-hearted moments.
The smell of fresh blooming tulips to transport one back to fond memories of Easter, a whiff of perfume for a beautiful reminder of someone special, the smell of fresh cut grass to say summer has arrived, or the smell of wheat to take an old farm girl right back to the fields.
Or possibly it’s that first snowfall of the season, the time when that silly Golden Retriever ran outside, laid on his back and wiggled in delight, and created the most beautiful doggie snow angels. Or the first time the Christmas boxes came out of the attic, only to find oneself in a heap of tears as the grumpy, old, smelly cat’s ornaments were tenderly tucked away from a year ago, a time when the old normal was normal, and life’s book had not yet closed a chapter named Tiger.
And then, there are just those “reminders.” The day one starts a “normal” day, but for unknown reasons, a heart that feels heavier than normal. Glancing at the calendar, the tears start as you are immediately taken back, one year ago or possibly many years ago, when you said good-bye to your special love. You remember the smells, the air, the sounds… like it was all happening again.
The love for an animal can sometimes be as mysterious as the complexity of the grief we feel. Sometimes one doesn’t fully understand how much they loved that silly old dog or crazy old cat until the time comes when they are gone. All you know is you loved them, and you miss them.
Here’s my wish for you during the holidays and for the entire year. Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat any good friend, with kindness, love, care, and compassion. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to fully love, and to fully grieve, for those amazing animals who have touched your human spirit.
Be kind to yourself and also allow yourself the time and space to honor those special loves who are now locked forever into your heart. When you find yourself throwing your nose to the sky because a smell sparks a memory, or you find a bit of hair that’s still hanging around all these weeks or months later, smile. Honor the memory. Give yourself permission to shed a tear, to remember. Stop for a minute, and be present to the beauty of that memory. Give yourself permission to remember, to feel, and give yourself permission to just “be” for a minute versus hurrying off to “do” your day.
At the heart of all of this is the permission to be reminded that it was all real. The life, the love, and the chapter you shared. It was all real.