The grief is real whether it’s a person who is close to us, a pet, or even someone we didn’t know.
This week, the death of Kobe Bryant and the others that perished on the helicopter, struck a cord in our lives. A very few of us knew any of those that were involved in the crash, but we felt sadness, pain, and grief for the loss. It is a reminder that our circle of life can come to an abrupt halt at any age and at any time.
Not quite two weeks ago, we lost our beloved lab, Honey. As we were saying goodbye to her, the tears were real as was the grief and pain. Yes, she was a dog but she was our dog. That feeling of grief was for me the same gut retching feeling I had losing a dear friend, my parents and other close family members. It seems silly that you can have the same feeling of grief with a pet that you do with a person, but it is real and should not be denied or shrugged off.
Over the past few days, the news media has shown the sadness and grief as people gather to mourn Kobe. Their sadness and grief shows pain on their face. Is it because of Kobe and the others? Does it remind them of other loses? It really doesn’t matter because it is their grief.
The definition of grief
Grief is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as very great sadness, especially at the death of someone.
Grief is defined by Wikipedia as a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, it also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, spiritual and philosophical dimensions.
So grief can be applied to many situations. We have a bond and it is lost, it is natural to feel grief.
Dealing with grief
How do we deal with the grief we are experiencing?
From my experience, I found myself walking around, just not feeling like doing anything after losing my dog (the experience was the same with people I have lost as well). Honey, was a rescue dog and had been with my husband and I for over 12 years. She was a great deal of comfort while I was undergoing radiation treatment for cancer. She continued to provide comfort and companionship during several moves away from dear friends, the death of two parents, the death of a dear friend, retirement from a job I loved and reinventing a new career. Unconditional love and support was the way Honey rolled.
I found getting back into my routine, including exercise was extremely helpful. Even when I felt like doing nothing except watching TV, I knew I had to move. Get fresh air, get back on a schedule, go for a run. It helped. Getting off your schedule is disruptive. It affects your sleep, your mood, and even what you eat or drink. So try to get back to some of the normal routine.
Losing a pet is in no way the same as losing a spouse, child, parent, close relative or friend. But to some it can be and we can’t judge. When a person dies, there are necessary activities that are time consuming, time sensitive and difficult (funerals, paperwork, banking, visitors, and so much more). Even then a walk, eating properly and trying to get your regular sleep is helpful. It will keep your body at its optimal level to deal with the stress.
Supporting someone who is experiencing grief
For those who are not experiencing the grief directly, it is helpful to empathize and allow the person to be with their grief. Recognition of the grief is so important. Many times people just say nothing. Saying “I’m sorry for the loss of ___________” is helpful. See the helpful tips below. Speaking the name of the loved one, friend or pet is also important. Often we are uncomfortable with talking to someone who is experiencing grief, but saying the words can be very comforting to them and to you.
With death, comes the reminder of life. We tend to put things off until retirement, Monday, next year, or sometime in the future. We just put it off for “later.” What if there is no later? The future may have a different timeline than we do. My philosophy is “do it now” because we never know when our circle will be broken.
If you want to learn more about grief, or are experience grief this is an excellent resource.
We struggle to say the right thing to someone in grief. These tips may help.
The Best Things to Say to Someone in Grief
I am so sorry for your loss.
2. I wish I had the right words, just know I care.
3. I don’t know how you feel, but I am here to help in any way I can.
4. You and your loved one will be in my thoughts and prayers.
5. My favorite memory of your loved one is…
6. I am always just a phone call away
7. Give a hug instead of saying something
8. We all need help at times like this, I am here for you
9. I am usually up early or late, if you need anything
10. Saying nothing, just be with the person
The Worst Things to Say to Someone in Grief
At least she lived a long life, many people die young
2. He is in a better place
3. She brought this on herself
4. There is a reason for everything
5. Aren’t you over him yet, he has been dead for awhile now
6. You can have another child still
7. She was such a good person God wanted her to be with him
8. I know how you feel
9. She did what she came here to do and it was her time to go
10. Be strong
If you have not listened to Peter Attia, MD I would highly recommend this podcast he did with Damon Hill. Damon’s the legendary F1 driver Graham Hill died suddenly when he was 15—so much of his life is an outcome of this tragedy. Additionally, he participated in one of the most deadly sports of its time, Formula 1 racing. Damon saw many teammates and friends die during races he was driving in. It’s a long podcast, but it is an interesting story that you will find fascinating.
#86 – Damon Hill: Overcoming loss, achieving success, and finding