Good Grief Dammit

by DavalosMcCormack on July 21, 2009

I never knew Dammit The Amazing Wonder Dog. Except by reputation. Dammit was famous for being very cool. She was a fireplug of a dog but she could leap to ridiculous heights. When her owner, Chicken John, squirted a bottle of water in the air Dammit would leap high to catch the drops in her mouth. When he blew bubbles she would leap even higher to burst them.

By all accounts she was an amazing dog. The day she died the San Francisco Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation officially declaring her an extraordinary beast.

The only time I saw her in person she was lying on an altar at Chicken’s home, surrounded by flowers and candles and friends and love. A few hours earlier she had slipped away from this realm to the next.

She seemed at peace. But those who knew and loved her were grief stricken. The Amazing Wonder Dog they had known and loved for 19 1/2 years was gone. It’s hard to have someone in your life for that length of time and lose them. The pain is extraordinary. For some people their heart is broken just as much by losing their  Dammit as by losing their Dad.

Dammit was guest of honor at a wake, an Irish celebration of the life of an Australian heeler in the heart of San Francisco. There were songs, poetry, tears, and alcohol (the Irish bit should have clued you into that).

Chicken John was surrounded by people who loved Dammit and wanted to show him how much they cared. It was a lovely moment. But I wonder what will happen in the days, weeks and months to come.

Grief doesn’t end when the mourners disappear. In some cases it never ends. I remember when my dog Greta died. She was a wonderful boxer who looked fierce but whose most dangerous weapon was a large tongue of incredible slobberyness. If Greta liked you you were in constant danger of drowning from her affection. After her death I found it hard to even tell people she was gone without either breaking down crying or getting so close to it that I would have to turn away.

To this day I miss her. I never see another boxer without thinking of her.

For people who have lost a loved one, wife or husband, sister or brother, father or mother, friend or lover, dog, cat or horse that feeling of grief goes on, and on. And that’s the hard part. So often friends, co-workers, offer sympathy at the beginning but then get on with their life. For the person who has lost someone that’s not so easy.

You don’t love someone deeply for years, even decades, and just get over them. It takes time. But too often we either try to ‘tough’ it out and act like we’re ok when we’re not. Or sometimes we just want those who lost someone to get over it, to get on with life, because we’re uncomfortable with the level of loss they are experiencing.

Grief takes time. So, if you have lost someone you love be patient with yourself. Allow yourself time to mourn, to feel the loss. Don’t try to hurry through. The pain won’t go away any faster just because you want it to go away.

Here is what Charlotte Bronte wrote on the death of her sister Ann.

THERE ‘s little joy in life for me,
And little terror in the grave ;
I’ve lived the parting hour to see
Of one I would have died to save.

Calmly to watch the failing breath,
Wishing each sigh might be the last ;
Longing to see the shade of death
O’er those belovèd features cast.

The cloud, the stillness that must part
The darling of my life from me ;
And then to thank God from my heart,
To thank Him well and fervently ;

Although I knew that we had lost
The hope and glory of our life ;
And now, benighted, tempest-tossed,
Must bear alone the weary strife.

So, if you know someone who has lost someone dear, be patient with them. They will get over it in their time, not yours. So, till then, be kind, be thoughtful, accept them and comfort them.

Dammit, by all accounts, had a great life. Now, as she moves on to her next life what may sound to some like a curse is actually an introduction to her next adventure. God, Dammit. Dammit, God!

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