Inspiring people to higher levels of Health & Happiness!!!
My dog Harley died and it shattered my family. How to process Grief and Heal.
My Dog, My friend, Harley Died this weekend! And it SHATTERED MY LIFE!
I participated in my Yoga Health Coaching Retreat a few weekends ago. We went deep. Why? Because if I don’t go to the very most difficult place, to the very thing I don’t want to say, to the most uncomfortable issues, then they will continue to hold me back. Quite frankly, I am ready to move on up to a new level. There is always a new level! So I began shattering things at the deepest level.
Then, as I am swimming in the darkness, I get a call from my husband, he and Bodhi are hysterical. He killed our dog. Harley, who was just 5, came to me when I first started this journey in becoming a Yoga Health Coach. It has been the most powerful 4 years of my life. Harley has been my guide. We got her when Bodhi was 1. They went for a hike with her, upon returning home, they left her in the car. Thinking she was asleep on the bed, they did not think of it for a while until Bodhi called her to give her a treat. Then they found her in the car, though not alive in her body.
I cried, I screamed:
First of all, I left the retreat balling my head off. As I drove, I was crying, screaming, and pounding my fist on the steering wheel. I was so mad. So sad. She had so much life in her. She got me out in the mountains every day, even when I felt too busy. As a result, I have always been grateful to her for that. She nudged into family hugs and playtime and we embraced her. Even more, she taught us how to love more deeply. We embraced her quirks, forgave her for her powerful tail and knocking little Bodhi over when he was younger, barking at every passerby, and running off and not coming when we called. She would follow me into any room waiting for me to land so she could lay near me. My heart was shattered.
On the drive, I did not try to censor my mind. It ran wild. Inside, I felt the paradox of so much anger and yet so much compassion for Todd. Screamed welled from the depths my being over and over again. When I began to get a headache, I turned to my heart. Stopping my wild mind, I put my hands on my heart. In the present moment, I just Felt it all. It helped a lot. I stayed there. At home, I went to her. Finally, I laid her stiff body, I tried to bring her back to life with all my soul, I begged, I sobbed. Most importantly, I was raw and open. I felt it all.
The whole family was shattered.
Shattering is not all bad, it lets the light in that was not there before. Bodhi wanted so bad to avoid pain, but he learned to cry, and he learned to let us cry, though his little compassionate heart really wanted to make it better. We have bonded so deeply through this pain. Interestingly, pain is mandatory, but suffering is not. I feel lots of pain, I want to feel it, I love Harley. Most noteworthy, suffering comes from the mind. The mind spins stories. It comes from resisting what is, avoiding pain is suffering. The pain itself moves through quickly when we feel it.
Here is how it works: We are going to feel physical and emotional pain in life. There is no avoiding it. Suffering though is optional. Certainly, the mind left out of control will spiral downward. The ego is the trap of the mind. It judges, makes up stories, compares ourselves to others, worries, and imagines the worse. I caught this so clearly. Now I catch the mind when it starts to spin stories around Harley, the event, or judgments, and I just drop into my heart space. I can do it in even one inhale. Similarly, you can too. Practice a lot and it will become natural!
This experience of grief has been the most open-hearted experience of grief that I have ever had.
I did not run, I did not hide, I did not avoid, I did not worry about what anyone else thought. Instead, I followed my heart. Breath by breath, moment by moment, I shifted out of my head, and into my heart. Likewise, my family did too.
For two days we did Art.
We drew rainbow hearts for Harley. Then, we drew her with wings. At dusk, we had a ceremony for her with candles, drawing, flowers, and songs. We stuck together like glue. Tears flowed, we screamed, we asked Harley for forgiveness, we forgave. I have not seen Todd cry in 20 years and he balled. We were all shattered. Shattering is not all bad. Missing Harley, Grief helped us shed the outer casings of our hearts. Due to this, our hearts cracked wide open, and now our hearts are more connected.
Now we celebrate Harley.
She pops into our minds often. This is what I believe. We are all Energy! Energy is neither created or destroyed. Fortunately, we just change forms. So we imagine her running in the hills with us, snuggling into our hugs, and wagging her crazy tail. Most notably, when I feel sadness, I just feel it, with my hand on my heart.
Tips to deal with Grief and truly Heal:
Most importantly, we must feel. This is done with the heart, not the head. Place your hands on your heart and feel. Really feel the emotion. Where does it show up in your body? Throat, chest, belly, back, shoulders? What is the physical sensation of it? What color is it? When you feel it, it dissipates. Try it for yourself. Try it with Fear, Sadness, Hurt, Anger! Likewise, try to feel it more fully, really feel it, it can not increase when we truly feel it, it dissipates.
2. Cry and Scream
This is so important. Give the emotion the outlet it needs. Most of all, give it back to the earth.
When I was 14 my dad died from drinking and driving. I so wanted to jump up from the graveside and run and scream. Urgently, every cell of my body wanted to do this. I didn’t. I was worried that people would think I was crazy. So I held it in for nearly 30 years. Last year, it came to me and I knew I had to give that little girl the chance to get it out. Finally, one night at 2 am I awoke and it was in my mind to do it. I did not want to do it at 2 in the morning. I tried to sleep. It would not leave me, so at 3 am I got up, hiked to the cemetery nearby, and did it. That’s right. Notably, I called my dad to be with me and I ran, I screamed, and I pounded my fist on the ground. I let go and I healed. Perhaps if I had done this at the time, I would not have carried it for 30 years.
Similarly, go find a place to scream, and get it out from the depths of your being. It’s okay. You will feel better.
3. Get out of your Head and into your Heart
Primarily, just keep feeling, catch your mind when it starts to spin stories and just feel. Perhaps use a mantra to stop the mind like greatest love. just feel. peace. be present. etc. Be keenly aware of your mind, your thoughts, old beliefs that are not true. Furthermore, you will know if you are in your head because it will feel like discomfort, anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, or depression.
We heal through art. It is the subconscious way of expressing the pain. So draw, paint, or make something to represent your pain. Draw to heal. Finally, let it go.
5. Be courageous
First and foremost, it takes courage to face grief with an open heart. Then, what you will find is that it feels better. For the reason that whatever we don’t face, gets stuck inside of us. Then, it makes us ill. So, lead with your heart and be brave.
6. Forgive, Let go
Forgiveness will set you free. Finally, let go of anything that is beyond your control.
7. Be present
This one moment is the only one that matters. Be here now. Achieve gratitude right here, right now.
Furthermore, instead of avoiding thinking of the person or animal, celebrate them. Above all, remember them, talk about them, imagine that they are with you. Call them. Ask them for help. Feel their love and presence. Importantly, we are all ENERGY. Furthermore, we only change forms. They are with you.
I hope this helps someone with the grief they are experiencing. Let me know if there is something here that uplifts you. I support you. I have so much compassion for the suffering we all feel in this world. Most relevantly, I want you to heal. Join my next Higher Health Course where we learn the magic of being present, healthy habits, and allowing in greater amounts of Joy, Abundance, and Success.