This week I've seen a wave of feel good stories about people who have adopted the oldest dogs in the shelter or the dogs who have been there the longest. Each one has mentioned that the adopting person lived with and loved another dog, sometimes several, and was looking for something beneficial to do with that heartbreak.
Adoption is a wonderful way to expand love. That's one of the things animals teach naturally (well, most of them - not Angus): there is enough love to continue to multiply.
Love doesn't go away when death happens. That's exactly why we grieve. It's why we mourn. It's why we feel battered, bruised, hopeless, morose, anguished, guilty, and then we have that magical moment when we remember something ridiculous and can't stop laughing.
Love accepts all parts of someone. My believe is that grief is such an odd and complicated experience because it is a jumble of all the emotions we would experience with our loved one in life. That includes the joy and the laughter. It's not all about sadness or anger, and that dichotomy can make it harder to understand.
Nope, you're not crazy. Just living with grief.
This morning I saw a post in my feed about one of these stories with lovely words for the people and animals involved. One of the last things the poster wrote was this: "Adoption is the way out of grief."
There is no way out of grief. Well, there is, and that would require that you give up any and all attachments to the one you love. No more memories. None. Like it never happened.
I'm betting you don't want to do that because this relationship, that is still very much active after death, changed you. This other being is woven into who you are today. To denounce that would be to say that what you had together, and what you still have together, didn't really matter. It wasn't important. It can be replaced.
Adoption won't fill the void left when your dog dies (or your cat, horse, bunny, or other loving creature). Adoption doesn't reallocate the love you gave. Adoption doesn't lessen the hurt or the number of days you wake up and come apart because your boy isn't sleeping beside you.
It does a lot of other wonderful things. It is not the way out of grief, because the only way out is to stop loving. I know you don't want that.
I'm Shannon, and I love and am loved by four Great Danes, four cats, and one horse (four Danes, one cat, and one horse are no longer walking this earth). Here I'll share stories of my adventures in grief photography for companion animals, my own grief journey, and thoughts on caregiving.