Our puppy-filled summer ended recently as we said farewell to our last two gorgeous bundles. It was a tearful time as I waved away these two who had found their way more deeply into my heart and our home. I knew it was time and that they needed to go and begin settling into their new life with new families but it did leave me with a sad heart.
This familiar visitor was grief. I had chosen right from the start of this puppy journey not to hold back my heart, not to stay unattached to them but I also knew that in doing so I would mourn their departure. I was tempted to downplay my grief judging it as a little bit silly, and unwarranted, wanting to give it a name other than grief but grief it was. It’s easy to name something as grief when it’s related to the death of a close loved one or some other obviously great loss. Then we are “allowed” to grieve – for a time at least. We can find it harder to allow ourselves to grieve for the smaller losses that scatter throughout our lives with regularity.
Grief doesn’t contain herself to the obvious, she doesn’t arrive only alongside a big loss. She can arrive all over the place, sometimes unexpectedly and when she does she’s asking to be seen, acknowledged and cared for.
I recognised that what I was feeling was grief and to let it be there as grief. I chose not to judge it as silly, unnecessary and foolish or to listen to “those people” (whoever they were!) that told me the same. I let myself welcome it for what it was and let it have space at the table of my heart.
I wonder if for me and you that grief can sometimes go unnoticed because it’s not the obvious kind? I wonder if we can ignore sadness and sorrow when it comes because something in us says that it’s not valid? I wonder if in welcoming grief in all its forms we can welcome the opportunity to be thankful for what was (8 puppy-filled weeks in my case) whilst also mourning its absence?
Grief isn’t only sorrow and sadness, it’s also a doorway to joy and hope. When grief has a place at the table of our lives it’s accompanied by comfort, tenderness and love. These can soften our hearts and help us connect to the deeper places within ourselves. Grief transforms us, it hurts but it’s also a gift. Let us notice it without judgment and let it have a place at the table in whatever form it arrives.