We lost another dog this week. Cozy. She was sweet, spunky, loving, needy, beautiful, anxious, and more than anything she was MY dog, who followed so closely on my heels that I often tripped over her laid-out-flat body. As much as I loved and grieved her mama Snoopygirl, the grief I feel over Cozy is different. More intense. I told Mr. OTN that I think it is because of their personality differences.
Snoopygirl was a strong and independent Beagle. She was smart and intuitive. She sensed our moods and was always there to offer comfort.
Cozy, on the other hand, was not so intuitive, anxious and needy from the start. When you would reach over the dog gate to pet her she would wrap her paws around your arm and hang on for dear life. When any of the family members would lie down she took that as a clue to climb right up on your chest where she would knead like a cat with her front paws while at the same time pressing her head into your face (sometimes a bit too hard) seeking to be as close as she could be!
We gave Cozy the head kisses she longed for and hubby and I always equated her persistence with our own need to be persistent in pressing in for more of God. She taught us lessons, that one.
When Cozy starting going downhill she declined quickly. Her always wagging tail hung limp, she stopped eating as vigorously as a normal Beagle does, she lost weight, and even lost the energy to follow me from room-to-room. Finally she stopped eating and drinking altogether and preferred to stay put on her bed in the kitchen. We knew it was time. On her last day we took turns holding her like a baby as she pressed her head into our shoulders receiving comfort.
I believe that the difference in the intensity of our grief is this: Snoopygirl gave comfort, Cozy received comfort, proving the point that it is indeed more blessed to give than to receive.
We fight against pain, trying to suppress it, getting busy to forget about it.
But why do we tend to think happy is the only way? Do we not know that happiness can be felt more intensely when we’ve experienced grief?
Some positive things about grief:
- I consider myself blessed to have loved a dog like our little Cozy. If we hadn’t had sixteen good years with her there would be no sadness to feel, but we also wouldn’t have happy memories to cherish.
- I’m thankful for the things Cozy’s neediness taught me. As Ann Voskamp says in her book, The Broken Way, “The only way to abundant life is the broken way of risk.” We take a risk when we give our hearts away but abundance comes in giving ourselves in love.
- Times of great sadness can also be times of great closeness to God, if we’ll seek Him. Scripture tells us in Psalms 34:17-18 that God hears the cries of the brokenhearted and He moves in close to share in the pain.
- I know that God can use every sad life experience for a higher purpose. We gain understanding through experience and II Cor. 1:3-4 says that we can comfort others with the same comfort we’ve received from God. Not only can God use our hurts as a means for us to pour into the lives of others, but when we pour out, He fills us up again so we can give some more.
Now I know that there are other, more painful things in life than the loss of a pet (especially for those of you who may not be pet people). Mr. OTN and I have experienced and are even now experiencing some of those “other” things, but we have come to accept that we can’t expect for life to always be happy.
When we feel the need to pursue happiness at all costs that can lead to all sorts of other addictive behaviors . . . but that’s a post for a different time.
Know this. It is brave and even healing to allow yourself to fully feel grief and brokenness. Sharing that brokenness with others makes you more authentic and real. I’d much rather be with real broken people than fake happy people. How about you?
If you are experiencing brokenness of any kind in your life, I pray that God will speak to your heart today. Our hope is in God alone. He alone is perfectly faithful in love toward us .
New Year’s blessings to you my friends,
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