At this time last year, I was recovering from a series of deep losses and injuries that left me feeling broken, numb, and physically debilitated.
It all started two years ago to the day. We were two weeks away from Christmas when our beloved 11-month old puppy, Powell, was diagnosed with a congenital fatal liver disease (and many other medical issues), that made putting him down the most compassionate decision.
At this time, we were barely recovered from the unexpected and sudden passing of our 12yr old Schnauzer, Buster.
It was all so sudden and surreal.
I felt out of body. Anxious. Sick. Disoriented.
It felt like I was bleeding out, through tears that had no end.
We hated the reality, but love helped us forge forward.
While my stomach fell through its floor boards and the tears flowed onwards, we made the decision to bring Pow home from the hospital and put him down the following day. We gave him the best last morning a dog could have.
Above: A dear friend joined us at the park to take some last minute family shots.
After a tasty breakfast and a fun run in the park with his bestie, Bella, we drove straight to the vet, where I held Pow as his spirit was freed from his sick little body.
That day, as our hearts were ripped out, and I learned just how strong love is.
…Love gives us the courage to do the otherwise un-imagineable.
…Love steps into the fire and lets itself be transformed to ash.
…Love carries the strength, hope and light to rebirth something new.
We left empty-armed, holes in our chests, but knowing a strength I’d never known before.
That day remains one of the hardest, and most poignant days.
I had no idea at the time how painful it was going to be, nor what it was preparing me for.
Sometimes we can’t see any meaning or purpose at the time, but it doesn’t mean there isn’t any.
Eight months later, I found myself being a primary care-giver to my friend, Surya, through the final stages of terminal brain cancer, in a similar way.
Above: Surya and Pow (and Bella) chilling out together. They were both sick at the time, but Surya was doing an incredible job keeping the tumor and symptoms at bay; we didn't yet know about Pow's disease. Surya loved animals!
When we can overcome and rise up from our hardest days, we build the courage, wisdom, strength and confidence to face and rise up from even harder ones.
And more than that, we build empathy, compassion and the emotional strength to support others in their hard times too.
After leaving the vet’s office that day, I learned that through love, we can do anything.
Truly, ANY thing.
…that sometimes we need to let go long before we’re ready, and how fiercely loving ‘letting go’ can be.
…that no matter how hard life can get, the love from family and friends helps us through.
…how to support myself, resource-up and soothe the trauma that was taking hold of me.
…that I although I may go down for a while, I can – and WILL, rebuild stronger. And that is a decision.
…that deep healing takes so much more than time, but also self-love and forgiveness, patience and active mindfulness.
As we got closer to scheduling the date for medical assistance in dying (MAID) for Surya, my mind was reeling with the mind-bending, surreal, heart-breaking, finality of it.
My death doula, Sarah Kerr, shared with me, “A part of you knows how to do this.”
She wasn’t encouraging MAID, but was supporting me in the decision we’d already made. Somehow, those words found a place to land and provided a strange comfort – or possibly a reminder of some ancient, primal wisdom we all have.
Love for my friend broke me open, and together, along with a few close family members and friends, we planned the most heart-wrenchingly beautiful death he could’ve had.
I’m skipping many details here, as there was just so much. It was also complex, including the injuries, and chronic and debilitating pain that set in to my body during this time; the unexpected passing of my deeply-loved step-mom, while planning Surya’s Celebration of Life; the details of managing all this amidst the beginning of COVID and not being able to travel home to hug my dad (or hold a service for Pauline) for over a year.
It was all just so much.
I was highly functional, but inside felt broken, wired, and simultaneously exhausted, numb, and flat.
It took me a while to disentangle myself, to begin the healing work of disrupting and breaking through habits of grief, sadness and trauma that had set in and started becoming a part of me.
As love cast out fear and suffering, I healed and rebuilt.
Tears can still flow with certain memories, but I’ve come back stronger than I’ve ever been, and here’s what I want you to know if you’re going through a hard time right now…
“A part of you knows how to do this.”
And I believe that that part of you, is the part of you that knows how to love.
LOVE is the most powerful force there is.
Whatever you may be going through…
- Love your way through it.
- Remember that pain is not a punishment, but an alert. And it’s an opportunity to practice love. To strengthen courage. To heal. To connect. To rise. To become even more.
I’m curious, how has love helped you achieve, survive, overcome or heal?
I’d love to hear in the comments below…