Sure, “Good Grief” is Charlie Brown’s famous, exasperated expression. I’ve certainly shouted it many times over the years after people or events left me just shaking my head in disgust. Or after I’ve tripped over my dog or cat staring intently at the refrigerator or the oven, seemingly in a trance. “Good Grief,” why do inanimate household appliances seem so fascinating to our pets?
Grief itself is a process, and one that I know well. I lost my brother in an accident and my previous, very young husband to cancer. Having worked in the Twin Towers on 9-11, I lost friends and colleagues. Like many folks, I’ve also lost both parents, and of the five pets I’ve adopted in the last 15 years, only one remains.
The actions we decisively take during the grieving process — which can last months, years, or a lifetime — can be cathartic, and help us sort through our sadness and other emotions.
After my too-young husband died, I attended a grief support group where we tackled the difficult issues head on. At one point, we made decorative Christmas tree ornaments using our photographs. I’m not a crafty person, per se, and after the project was done, I still hurt like hell, but I actually felt some relief. Every little bit helped. I was grieving but growing as a person, and plowing through it all.
In attending the recent 2017 BlogPaws Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Wanda Kruse, aka @MaggieTKat (link to her site provided: Life Through Science by Maggie T Kat), and thanks to her, once more I found “Good Grief.” It turns out that the BlogPaws folks, with Wanda’s help, traditionally enable attendees to draw, create and display Honor Flags, following the Tibetan custom of displaying Prayer Flags. These Honor Flags help us remember our dear pet companions who are no longer with us. (More info on Honor Flags/Wanda/BlogPaws here at their site .)
I’d never heard of prayer flags and was only mildly intrigued at first. But despite my lack of artistic ability (I’ll stick to writing any day, thanks), and thanks to having a very nice dinner conversation with Wanda at the conference one night, I decided I’d create my own Honor Flag. I’m so glad I did it for my “Buddy Luv.” And for me. We both earned it.
I had plenty of inspiration thanks to Buddy.
I picked his colors — a burnt orange, snow white, and piercing sea-foam green for his eyes — and just let it flow… that is, the flag, the smiles, and oh yes, the tears.
Many hugs with Wanda ensued. People like her restore my faith in humanity. God knows we don’t see enough of it these days. Like she said, the act of creating the flags and joining with others who are also experiencing loss can help us all heal, if even just a bit.
I’ll take it.
Here’s the Honor Flags in progress, at the 2017 BlogPaws Conference.
My gratitude to Wanda Kruse, and to the BlogPaws folks for continuing this tradition. I know the more we continue to love our families and our pets, that the more we will ultimately grieve. But I feel taking that chance is well worth it.
Dogs on Deployment is a wonderful, non-profit, 501(c)3 organization for whom I am Chief Editor of their Military Tails blog (click for link). I’m going to give them a shout out every opportunity I can so as to spread awareness of their important mission.
Support our troops by boarding their pets! That’s dogs, cats, etc.!
It has been 3 weeks now since my mother-in-law passed away. Some events in life are harder than others to process. I wanted so much to immediately write a fitting tribute. To combine my love for her with my writing skills, and just write the hell out of a tribute — in a way that would make me proud, my husband proud, and do this fine lady justice. Frustration! The words didn’t flow. And I can’t exactly say now that this blog is writing itself. But as part of making peace with her passing, as part of my grief process, as part of my prayers for her resting in peace, at last, I now write.
My relationship with my mother-in-law, Grace, got off to a fine start but was interrupted. We chatted, and smiled and laughed and had an immediate fondness for one another. Yes, I thought, she really was as outstanding an individual as my husband had made her out to be prior to our introduction. I let my mind then even wander a bit into our future. (Of course, as an Aquarian and aspiring writer, I have trouble staying in the here and now anyway.) But I imagined her beautiful smile and maybe a twinkle coming from those incredible blue eyes when we announced there would be another grandchild in her future.
None of this would be our collective realities. A beastly intruder known as Alzheimer’s Disease came uninvited into her life. It crept its way into her body, slowly but surely, eventually taking over the lay of the land. In doing so, it changed the course of her life, naturally, as well as that of my father-in-law, Joe and soon the lives of the rest of the family.
Grace will soon have a fitting and beautiful memorial service, with dozens of family and friends in attendance. Their stories will help fill in the blanks for me. Help illustrate exactly who she was and what it was like to know and love her, without the ever-present and rude Alzheimer’s beast breathing over our shoulders. And so, simply I say that it was a joy, albeit briefly, to know you. Here’s to your strength, your spirit and your soul, Mom. Here’s to Grace, with Love.