Holiday time is fast approaching! The autumn leaves have colored and fallen, the air is crisp and clean, and the daytime skies are that brilliant Carolina blue to which we are accustomed, here in the sunny south.
As the seasons turn, we notice the dimming days, and the growing darkness, without and within. Summer’s bounty has been harvested for safekeeping on pantry and freezer shelves, in mason jars and in the modern zip-lock bag. We are hard at work preserving what was recently so abundant. Now marked so clearly by its absence, it becomes ever so more precious and dear. The steady hum of lawnmowers and noisy insect friends, has given way to a growing sense of quiet stillness.
We are reminded at this time of year, that life is like that, too. This quiet stillness can be restful and inviting, and it can be a place that is difficult for us to be. The holidays are a time for celebration, for togetherness with friends and family, for dining tables piled high, and for joy, sweet joy, to the world! For animal lovers, along with the traditional decor, out come the holiday toys and gifts for our precious furry ones; the sweaters, the antlers, and the Santa Kongs filled with peanut butter and cheese.
For some, the holiday bells may ring differently, this year. Many among us have recently lost, or are anticipating the loss of beloved four-legged, finned, and winged ones at the most difficult time of year for facing such sorrows. Some of us are fortunate to have folks in our lives who appreciate these things: that our losses are great, and that we feel less moved by the usual holiday spirit, going on around us. Others of us, not so much. Some are elderly, or alone, or simply lacking in family or friends who empathize and understand.
Grief for our animal companions is a tough nut to crack, any time of year. Many don’t understand the grief or think us irrational or eccentric, and we remain bereft, as well as bereaved. Add the holiday music and hustle-bustle into the equation, along with the too-empty space by the hearth, and the tally is clear. There are far too few resources out there for support, in spite of the bustling “pet” industry. Sadness is sadness, grief is grief, and unattended they land where they land, like a truckload of bricks. If you are experiencing overwhelming loss and grief, and the idea of transition seems too far away for comfort, welcome a compassionate friendship or a supportive hand to hold. Life does go on. It takes time, understanding, and support to heal that place within; a place that may be raw from an earlier unhealed grief, and tightening down with this fresh loss. If you know someone who is struggling at this time, perhaps you might consider being that hand to hold, and offering compassion in this holiday time of giving and gratitude.
I wish the very best for you.