Most of us know the grief of saying goodbye to a beloved animal companion. While it may seem small compared to the grieving that comes from a person dying, or from the world’s constant warring, our hearts don’t know the difference.

Grief is grief, and it takes whatever time it takes to move through all the emotions that come with the process of grieving.

So I was surprised to not feel much sadness when we said a Gentle Goodbye to our beloved Emma Joy last month. Instead, what I feel is a sense of expansive freedom, a deep welling up of joy, and a heart so full of gratitude that there is little room for sadness now.

Of course I shed tears as we prepared, as we decided, as we said our goodbyes the day of her leaving. Of course I miss the way her sweet body melted into my arms as I carried her so often those final months. My arms feel empty. My eyes miss the joy of seeing her curled up in her favorite chair.

But I still feel so much joy every time I think of the blessing of this little darling, and how freeing it was for her, and for us, to finally let her body go.

And this is what has moved me through my grief with such grace, as I know she wanted in her unconditionally loving way.

The joy is a bubbling up of every smile, every hug, every laugh, and every precious moment she gave to us, all wrapped into an eternal moment of grateful knowing that she is still here.

Emma had been with us over 14 years. We adopted her when she was 2-3, so that’s a long and happy life for a four-legged. And what a great life she had with us! After those first few years of neglect, she planted herself firmly into our lives, bloomed in our hearts, and stays forever there.

The reason I’m sharing this is because I know it can be easy to get lost in the grieving—denial, anger, depression—especially with so much ongoing hardship facing our world every single day.

So if you’re grieving any kind of departure or disappointment in your life, I invite you to TURN UP the gratefulness. Count all the blessings, savor all the good moments, shine light on every little thing that brings even a bit of happiness to your life.

Gratitude is the balm that turns grief into grace.

Let your grieving take however long it takes. Just remember to be grateful for the treasures that are still here.

Be a Light for our world. -Sor’a

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