Even if you don’t know what to say, say it.

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January 16, 2017 by Nicole

This has been an emotionally draining weekend.  My husband and I finally had to make the decision to say good bye to our last dog on Friday.  After 15 years, my old lady had really not much in the way of a good quality of life, as you may have read in my last entry.  We decided that it was not fair to let her linger on, since clearly her body was able to outlast her mind and the stress of that was really starting to get to her.  In short, the dog that we said good bye to on Friday was not the same one we’d cared for during the first thirteen years of her life.  The last two years, and the last couple months in particular, had more bad days than good ones.  So it was time to send her home.

The actual moment of her death, thanks to our wonderful vereranarian, was very quiet and peaceful, and she went quickly. I would say that the hardest part of the whole experience, after having been through it three times now, is not the actual death, rather those final hours leading up to it.  

When I shared the news of our loss on my Facebook page, it was such a comfort to see how many people acknowledged her passing and our pain, either just in the form of a like or by way of a sympathetic comment.  There were also a few people who expressed their sympathies to us when they saw us today (two days later) in person.  In the midst of mourning the loss of my fur baby,  I can tell you that this small thing makes such a huge difference.  It feels a little like with each person who wants to help you cope with your loss–even just by a simple like on your facebook post–a small part of the pain is washed over in love. So thanks to all of you who have done this for us in the last few days.

In my case, it’s my dog.  But there are lots of people in the world who are suffering through worse than the loss of a pet.  And it seems to me that many times, people don’t reach out to try and offer comfort because either they don’t know what to say, they are afraid that they will say the wrong thing, or they just are uncomfortable doing so.  I don’t think it helps to mention that God will work all things for good, or that it ‘s part of a divine plan, or whatever else people things sounds holy and biblical.  That route probably makes it worse. 

I would encourage you, however to be brave and just offer honest condolences, even if it’s just as simple as “I’m so sorry.” If you want to bring God into it, then tell them that they are in your thoughts and prayers.  Tell them that you wish for God’s comfort and healing in a time that is very difficult.  If you’ve been there before, share in their pain and let them know you’ve been where they are.  Or, try to put yourself in their shoes.  What would you want someone to say to or do for you in a moment of grief? Give you a hug? Send you a note or an inspirational video or song? Take you out for coffee and just listen to you?

It seems to me that of all the types of courage there are in this life, walking with someone while they grieve is one of those things that calls for courage.  In a day and age where we probably (okay, definitely) don’t connect with people face to face enough, the grief of other people makes us feel incredibly awkward.  It’s easier to text rather than talk.  We don’t like feeling uncomfortble.  

Take a chance and be brave.  

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