You get to grieve the way you grieve, and no one gets to tell you your way is wrong. (Unless you’re being destructive).
There seem to be two sorts of grievers – the ones who like to keep the physical things around to look at and touch, and the sort that don’t. My husband’s family is on one side, and I’m on the other. This has caused hurt feelings from time to time.
So, since I’m in the process of grieving my dog (who I am putting down later today, and yes, I grieve before the moment of truth), let me help you into the head of someone who ISN’T the sentimental type.
You’re watching me clean and do laundry and put away the doggish things at mach 50. I’ve heard you before, say that it seems so cold. But I’m not cold. I’m agitated, and I’m hurting. As I do this work, I’m calming myself, giving myself something to do. I can’t do anything about the cause of the pain, but I can find a chore and do it. So, I do.
As I pick up the dog bed and put it in the laundry, I think of when the dog started sleeping in my bedroom, and why. And I remember. And as I fold up the things, I fold up my memories, carefully laying them in a box to be taken out at leisure, and enjoyed.
Because I like to enjoy my memories, I don’t want them staring me in the face all the time. That actually causes me more pain. Do I want to come home today, fresh with the dog’s death, and step out of my bed onto the bedding? No, I do NOT. It will hurt more. It’s not like I’m going to forget him… I just don’t want to wallow. Let me rip off the bandaid, it’s better this way.
I am preparing myself for a time when I can curl up in a ball and cry and get it all out and rest. And then I will get up, and I will go on. That’s what I do. This is who I am. This is how I cope with pain. I get up, and I do something.
And when you want me to keep my hands to myself and not start cleaning right away, because it’s your grief? I’ll return the favor.
*The dog never sleeps on any of his bedding during the day. I don’t know why, he never has. So, no – I’m not taking away something he’s using. And yes, I’ll wash it and put it away neatly for the next dog, if and when.