Grief. It’s What’s for Dinner

Logan Lynn’s Beloved Dutch, a Pomeranian

My beloved Pomeranian companion of the past ten years died suddenly a little over two months ago and I have yet to make heads or tails of the whole thing.  Truthfully, I’ve been carrying his cremated body around in a tiny tin box ever since, sleeping with him next to me at night, and am so far having a really hard time letting him go.

During the first few weeks after his death I was in a state of sheer panic around his absence. For over a decade, silence in the house meant little dude was up to some sort of mischief or that he was in trouble, so to be suddenly surrounded by this new, impenetrable quiet has been unsettling. I found myself calling for him in the night, looking for him all over the house in the morning, and waiting to hear the pitter-patter of his paws on the hardwood floor as I opened the front door or walked to the kitchen, but he is gone.

As it turns out, I had a great deal of purpose wrapped up in taking care of this tiny creature, and I’m finding that in many ways I was dependent on the love I received from him in return. He was the only consistent thing in my life for the past decade, and without him around everything just feels harder. I have yet to make it through a full day without some sort of tearful breakdown and was unable to control said emotional outbursts at all until very recently. It sounds crazy that an animal could make me lose my mind like this, but he was so much more than a dog to me. For many years he was my child, my family, the only reason I got out of bed in the morning, and the only reason I came home at night…so to call him my “pet” minimizes the depth of our relationship.

A few weeks back while I was talking to a close friend about my inability to let Dutch go, he challenged me that maybe it was feeling too hard to do because I wasn’t actually supposed to be doing it. He suggested that, instead of working so hard to let him go, I should learn to hold onto Dutch in new ways. His body is gone, that much is certain. All that’s left is this box of ashes…which isn’t all that comforting when I stop and think about it.
So, I took his advice. I began to look for Dutch again, minus the feeling of panic those initial searches held after he passed. I started to focus on all the ways he is still here with me instead of mourning all the ways he is not, and suddenly he was everywhere again. We walked by a baby Pom on the street the other day who had the same goofy sideways gait my guy always had and I was transported back. It had been so long since I had seen him, and this short glimpse felt like such a gift. I passed another the following day who was trying to chew his way through his leash; something my little one had managed to do with many leashes over the years. Once more I felt him close to me and we were, in that moment, together again.

I know that grief has to run its course, and I know that it takes time. It is my hope that, in missing him, I can continue to find my dearly departed friend in nature, in my interactions with other animals, and in the silence that has replaced his noise in my life. His body may be gone, but his spirit is not. Our love was real, and I will carry that with me forever.

Grief is tricky business. There’s a fine line between letting oneself feel the pain of loss and becoming completely taken over by depression and despair. In the end, I have not been able to swing this one alone. It has taken a lot of therapy, support, and countless hours crying out my feelings to get to the point of being able to function again, and I am still working on
getting there.

One of the most painful truths about love is the impermanence of life, but the experience of someday losing everything that matters to us is something we all share. I don’t regret giving my heart to Dutch, even if it’s been broken as a result. When you love someone, you risk the heartache that comes along with it; but choosing to protect yourself from the pain of loss by not allowing love in is so much worse. Be brave, love fiercely, and know that nothing is permanent. There is so much freedom in that truth.

Logan Lynn

About Logan Lynn

Logan Lynn is a Portland-based musician, activist, writer, producer, and regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

Comments

  1. We lost our pup last year and this idea of not letting go but holding on in a different way is so helpful. Thanks just out.

  2. Once again, Logan Lynn has me in tears at my desk. Beautiful.

  3. Brian Tedesco says:

    Sounds like you need some therapy — for a variety of issues.

  4. Very observant, Brian. As I mentioned in the article above, it has taken a great deal of therapy to get to this point in the process, and the personal work continues. I actually believe we all should be able and willing to talk about our issues to each other, to a therapist, and to whoever, without the fear that someone will think we are weak or take a dig at us, be it online in a comment field, or in person.

    There is a huge amount of stigma attached to mental health and sadness that doesn’t exist around other common conditions. The fact is, we all lost things we love. We all suffer. We all also have the opportunity to work through the loss and suffering and come out the other side empowered and compassionate. My laying all my shit out there for the world to read has everything to do with my wanting to change those stigmas and bring visibility to “a variety of issues” which many would prefer to keep swept under the rug.

    I am not ashamed of my sadness, or areas where I am still growing into myself. Those pieces of my human experience are just as important as the ones that have already been worked out. The more we can honor our broken bits, the more likely we are to heal and help others honor theirs.

    Compassion is key, man. Stay kind and the rest will follow.

  5. Big_love says:

    Thank you, Logan, for sharing your story. Grief is intense and I appreciate your honesty. Sending huge hugs to you thru this ether, which doesn’t help much, but know that your story rings true for many, myself included. Next week is the 5 year mark of my first dog companion’s death (after 14 years together). For me, those waves of grief are still surprising sometimes. I was a snotty mess after my dog died, and I leaned heavily on the Dove Lewis pet grief program. Keep taking good care of yourself, and know that there are many others who have shared this pet-grief path……..

  6. Logan, thanks so much for sharing wholeheartedly, your grieving process. I am so so sorry for your loss.
    I don’t think grief goes away, and I am not surprised when grief pops up again. We have to “feel them to heal them.” and there’s no rules about feelings. You described exactly what we went through when two or so years ago, our tiny adorable doggy died. Actually I’ll say “are going through,” because Corrie dying was one in a series of losses, each partially caused by circumstances brought on by the preceding loss. Here is how she arrived. 10 p.m. on a Saturday night in freezing Oregon October rain. As we left for a walk, I heard skittering in the leaves on the stairs behind me. I turned around, and Corrie was on a stair where we were literally looking into each others eyes. I said “what are you doing out here!” Realizing immediately there was a timing that was unmistakably, in my belief system, a divine intervention. She brought her adorable soggy self running down the stairs and ran to the door we’d just come out of, as if she’d all ways been there and just waitin’ for mom and dad to open the door. She had been either neglected and/or on her own for some time, and if she hadn’t been found, it’s questionable if she would have lived. What would be a healthy animals first layer of skin, was flea dirt, and regular dirt. Hair gone from her ears, and bare tail where she’d chewed and chewed. When my sweet honey washed her 3 times, there were at minimum 30 huge fleas on this about 6 pound doggy. I cannot describe all the ways who she was brought so much joy, nor adequately describe in words how much we loved her. We both looked for her, dreamed of her and woke up calling her name, then dashed to tears when we realized she wasn’t here anymore. There was no consolation because she was spirit, warmth, softness, breath, and so darn adorable I NEVER got over it. She was with us 3 years. She came in late October. She left in late October. For some reason, writing this fact tipped me over into tears residing in my heart and guts. Expressing them is so healing. We also looked for her everywhere, and thought we saw her even run through the house….hurry into another room, even look under the bed, behind things etc….. in fact I saw a picture of you and your sweetheart on fb, she was in a backpack or baby carrier over your shoulder or back….and was reminded of Corrie, who was either or and, pom, lhasa apso, chihuaha, pekinese. I marveled at how much they looked alike, and they both were fawn colored, precious, precious. Your courage is appreciated. I don’t know exactly how you feel, I do have an understanding.

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