'No, no! The adventures first,' said the Gryphon in an impatient tone: 'explanations take such a dreadful time.' -Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Caroll
Gryphon has been gone for almost two weeks and I just realized that I really miss him. I know that sounds crazy but, as a friend so eloquently told me last week, "Grief is strange." Since November of 2009, when Emily passed away quietly in her sleep, we have mourned the loss of several pets who were with us for a decade or more, Emily, Tynan, Bobbie Birdie and now Gryphon. And just like how all of those pets had very original personalities, lived different lives and had dissimilar deaths, grieving their loss has been unique as well. With Gryphon, it was hard for me to admit that I really, truly miss him.
Now that I have admitted that I miss him, it feels kind of liberating. I miss Gryphon. I miss stroking his face with both hands the way he liked. I miss rubbing his ears. I miss him trying to bite me when I'd attempt to stroke his body. I even miss his Siamese yowl at night. I miss him being curled up by my feet while I sleep. I miss him curled up next to me on the couch as I type. I miss feeding him. I miss him licking his hairball treatment out of my hand. I actually miss scooping his litter. I miss the sound of his paws on the floor. I miss him greeting me when I get home or going to find him if he didn't greet me. I miss picking him up and kissing him on his head even though he hated it. I just miss Gryphon so, so much.
If you search around there are five to seven stages of grief ranging from shock and denial, pain and guilt, anger and bargaining, depression and isolation, adjusting and functioning, reconstructing, acceptance and hope. Well written articles about these stages tell you to interpret them loosely and let you know that you will drift in and out of each stage randomly- they are not necessarily sequential. After all, grief is weird. The process of mourning is just as unique as each of us and as individual as the lost pet we are grieving.
When you are mourning, especially with the loss of a pet, you will likely get all kinds of sympathies from friends and family. I have gained so, so much comfort and wisdom from conversations with loved ones over the last two weeks. But I have also gotten some "bad" advice. I put the word bad in quotes because I know the givers of the advice meant well, it was just advice that didn't necessarily reflect the individuality of how we each mourn in our own way. And I am sharing this with you so that if and when you ever need to mourn a pet, you can allow yourself to grieve in your own way, no matter what anyone else, including me, advises.
It is okay to have contradictory thoughts and feelings while you are grieving. It is also okay to have perfectly organized and rational thoughts during times of sorrow. As I have spent time reflecting on the life of the pets I mourn, I remember that my thoughts were all over the place while they were alive too. Perhaps, similar to researching the stages of grief and reading about what other people go through, this makes the oddity of grieving feel a little more normal. Just a little.
And missing Gryphon is normal. Yet I also walk by his grave each day and smile because he gets to be outside again like he so loved. I wish he was still alive but in his nine-year-old body. I occasionally sob then laugh... I am so lucky to have known him and to have had him spend over nineteen years with me however... wait. There is no argument with that. That was perfect. Except that it is over. Grief is strange.
'That's the reason they're called lessons,' the Gryphon remarked: 'because they lessen from day to day.'
-Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Caroll