As I write this my heart feels heavy and happy, sad and grateful.
My wife, Celeste and I have made the decision to lay our loyal companion of 14 years, Sasha the dog to rest next weekend (04/04-2015). It’s so hard to believe because six weeks ago she was golfing with me everyday, going for hikes and ripping it up in the forest like a young pup. That is until a bad case of Vestibular syndrome hit her hard.
Today we spent the day present with our tears and each other. It is bitter sweet knowing that we have these final seven days with Sasha before we will send her home.The well of grief I’m present to is incredible and so beautiful. I’m grateful to be feeling this pain in my heart. It is a sign that my heart has swelled up with so much love that the only thing it could do is crack open and overflow with tears.
If it weren’t for my wife, Celeste I don’t think I ever could’ve written what you are reading. So thank you darling for inspiring and teaching me so much about my own heart and emotions.
It wasn’t until Celeste’s father took his own life that I truly understood the full rainbow spectrum of emotions that are available and necessary for us to experience on our human journey. For two years (and a bit) I supported Celeste through a journey of deep grieving. At times I wondered if she’d ever come through the other side. But the spark of light in her eyes assured me that she would.
Being a man, I at first thought I could help fix her pain and sorrows; somehow make them right. But as time wore on and I watched her move through wave after wave of this tsunami of grief, I began to understand that there was nothing wrong. In fact, it was so perfect and right.
The grief she was feeling was a celebration, just like the grief that is spilling over from my heart right now is also a celebration for how much I love this beautiful being who has brought so much joy to our lives.
Witnessing Celeste embrace her own sadness, depression, tears and pain gave me permission to explore my own. In the last few years I too have rode many of my own waves, but I don’t think any have been as big as the ones I’m feeling now.
Growing up in a culture where it’s wrong for men to cry or to show any emotion other than anger, rage or happiness makes it challenging to be authentic. When we go to a funeral we look around and see men wearing black sunglasses because they’re afraid to show that they feel pain. They think it’s weak.
How can it be weak for a man to love? Why is it that we praise men who do not feel? If we lived in a world where men were encouraged to feel their sorrows and share their emotions openly, I do believe we’d have less war, hatred and violence.
But instead we numb it with drugs and alcohol, we feel ashamed and wonder why we’re not stronger or we push it down and let it rot in our guts until it becomes rage that we often take out on others.
This idea that is so deeply ingrained in us is so ass-backwards. A man (or woman) who does not truly feel all of his emotions shuts his heart down, becomes bitter, rigid, angry and numb. This is not a man. This is not noble or honourable. It is cowardly.
For so many years I wore a mask that I didn’t even know I had on. I showed a fake smile to the world because that’s what I thought I must do if I wished to be accepted or liked. I was so afraid to show my true colours; what was really present on the inside.
My invitation to my brothers of all ages is to be courageous and cry like a baby. Please show yourself to the world. Let yourself be vulnerable, because it is in breaking down that we build ourselves up to be stronger, more whole and more powerful.
There is no shame in being sad. There is nothing wrong, even when we feel that we might drown in the waves of grief that are crashing down on us. This is life. Celebrate the experience. Let the tears flow and please, if there is someone you care about deeply in your life, let them know. Show them. Get off your computer and hold them. Because soon they may not be here and unfortunately, we’re not all fortunate to know the number of days we have left with those special someones in our life.
This is the bitter sweetness I am feeling right now. The gratitude that I still have 7 days to cherish the touch of my sweet dog Sasha and the sadness of knowing that after that she will leave this beautiful world and return to where we all must go someday.