We all know what loss feels like.
A roadside bomb to the heart.
Once we have had that experience
it is hardly surprising
that we would fear having it again.
When I had to take my beloved terminally ill cat
for that final visit to the vet in 2009
I had such pain that I could not imagine
ever daring to have another cat.
I was afraid to love that much again
and have my heart broken.
This Christmas I finally dared.
Actually, no I didn’t.
A homeless cat simply walked into my heart and sat down.
Recently I got married again.
My husband and I both lost our previous spouses eight years ago.
One died, the other left.
We had met very soon after our losses.
After our wedding, a friend asked: What took you so long?
I thought about that.
Probably some of that same fear of loss.
Afraid to love that deeply again
and have to say goodbye.
I have begun to realize that part of what allows us
to deal with the fear of loss,
and become able to love again,
is the comfort we receive while we are grieving.
My husband (to be) and I comforted each other deeply
in those eight years before we married.
He also comforted me about the loss of my cat.
Her sister also died during those years,
and he held me through that as well.
Being comforted through our loss
We realize we can come through it
and love wholeheartedly again.
I still remember a sermon I heard more than twenty years ago.
It was about loss.
The preacher said the degree of pain we experience in a loss
is in direct relation to the depth of our love.
That you couldn’t avoid the pain without withholding the love.
He stressed that the pain is worth it.
He quoted a plaque that he said is on the wall
of a children’s hospital in Buffalo:
For all the joy the child shall bring
The risk of grief we’ll run
My Pastor’s loss
My Pastor, who just conducted our joyful wedding ceremony,
wrote to me shortly thereafter
that he and his wife were devastated
by having been suddenly hit
with the loss of their beloved dog.
I wrote them a letter hoping it would offer comfort.
They said it did.
If you are experiencing a loss of any kind today,
I hope the content of my letter may comfort you as well,
and maybe even ease the fear of loving again.
I am deeply sorry that your beloved _____ is no longer in your arms
where he always loved to be
and always wanted to stay.
I hear you that your hearts are broken, and I weep with you.
How terrible to come home to the tragic shock of finding him grievously ailing.
And then to experience the pain of hearing the diagnosis,
realizing its full gravity,
and seeing the imminence of devastating loss.
How terrible to realize that you might have to say goodbye
to your treasured longtime loyal loving protector and friend.
Your precious _______!
How wrenching to have to reach the acceptance
that there is and was nothing you can or could do to save him
and keep him alive.
And then have to make the agonizing decision you had no choice but to make,
to prevent his suffering.
to have to take him on that sorrowful final journey.
feeling all the painful regrets and guilt, unwarranted but real,
for all the things you imagine and wish you COULD have done
to prevent this awful outcome.
It is all truly excruciating.
Some of the worst pain you will ever have.
I am so sorry
How precious ______ is and was and always will be.
His life and love is so powerful and tender and true
that he lives on in spirit.
He will show up in beautiful and unpredictable ways
that will touch and sustain you.
You will laugh and cry in these miracle moments.
How wonderful that his boundless love cannot be contained!
That his loving spirit is not defeated by death!
Your loyal ______ stays with you
by your side in bold technicolor
both in memory
and in action
every future day
of your adventurous and joyful life!
Yes, it is worth it to love deeply.
So let’s talk about how having a pet
can help us to grow
so that we dare to become able to love
to our full capacity.