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Griffin's Journey

Mar 11

It has been one month since I said goodbye to Griffin.  The sharp sting of grief has mellowed to an ache that has burrowed deep into my bones.  I still look before moving the ottoman.  I still catch myself automatically soothing, “You’re okay” when I hear a car backfire outside.  I still feel disoriented when I wake up without a solid warmth snugged up against my side.  My days feel adrift without our routine and the house is so very quiet.  I miss Griffin tremendously and I expect that I always will.

From Griffin’s diagnosis to his surgery through five different chemotherapy protocols to the very end, I was grieving.  Not every day and not all the time, but the anticipatory grief of losing him was pretty consistent and every oncology appointment that never resulted in good news brought me low again.  Each time I cycled through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression a little quicker, trying desperately to stay in a positive mindset knowing there would be plenty of time for tears later.  And now it is time for me to practice acceptance.  My beloved boy is gone, and nothing will bring him back to me.

My very wise 14-year old niece shared this quote with me: “As long as there is love and memory, there is no true loss” (Cassandra Clare).  One of the best things I did after Griffin passed was to ask everyone to share their favorite memories of him.  From family and friends, to colleagues at schools where Griffin accompanied me, to staff at the hospital that treated Griffin and the hospital where we volunteered, to my neighbors – over 100 people shared stories about Griffin.  I knew most of the stories, but the new ones were lovely surprises, as were some photos and videos that I had not previously seen.  Each story affirmed what I already knew – Griffin was an amazing soul who touched so very many people with his joy, his gentleness, his empathy, his silliness, and most of all, with his capacity for unconditional love.  Reading those shared memories is a balm to my aching heart and the document into which I have compiled them all will be a treasured legacy.

It has been one month since Griffin passed and while I feel sad every day, I am doing okay.  I go for daily walks in our favorite park.  I attended an individual therapy session and a pet loss support group meeting.  I started volunteering with a local dog rescue processing adoption applications and completed initial steps to become a volunteer with two other organizations.  I am steadily working through a list of spring cleaning tasks.  I have buckled down to find a full-time job.  I am reading a ton of books.

One of those books was The Beauty of What Remains: How Our Greatest Fear Becomes Our Greatest Gift by (Rabbi) Steve Leder.  He writes, “We lose so much love to death, and if that love was real and deep, the grief is real and deep.  Grief is not a race to be won or an illness to be cured.  To deny grief its due is to deny love.”  I am very lucky to have the support of so many and no one would question my need to grieve, but somehow reading that passage really made plain to me in a way that I did not fully understand before that love and grief go hand in hand, mirroring each other in their depths.  It is comforting to think that when my grieving is over, the beauty of our love will remain.

On a practical level, I know that how long or how much I grieve will not change the fact that Griffin is no longer by my side.  And so from a self-preservation perspective, I try to focus on gratitude rather than sadness.  I am grateful for so many things about how Griffin passed – that he did so peacefully at home, that he was not in pain or scared, and that it was so clearly his time to go.  I am grateful for the 11 years that I shared with Griffin, and considering we were rarely apart even when I was working, it probably adds up to far more time than most people get to spend with their pups.  I am grateful for Griffin’s magic, as evident in the outpouring of stories, and that I lived in the presence of that magic up close each day.  I am grateful that Griffin inspired me to work towards a healthier lifestyle and made even the bitterly cold morning walks fun.  I am grateful for all that Griffin taught me – patience, kindness, being fully present, determination, curiosity, and finding joy every day.  Griffin truly was the sunshine of my life and I will love him forever.

One day I will create a video to celebrate all of Griffin’s life, but in the meantime, I hope you enjoy these photos that each represent a year, from 2010-2021, that Griffin spread his sunshine to all of us.  Thank you all for the love and support that you gifted us throughout Griffin’s journey.  May his memory be a blessing.

3 comments so far

  1. jerry
    1:39 pm - 3-11-2021

    Stacy, I just want to add to my forum comment, that the first photo of puppy Griffin is just so dang adorable. And it also gives a glimpse of his life ahead, that look on his face is one of wisdom far beyond his little puppy body. He knew why he was put on this earth from day one. He did his job, and he did it so well. We are honored to have been part of it.

    Thinking of you and sending lots of love your way.

  2. Michelle
    9:20 pm - 3-12-2021

    Stacy,

    I am so sorry for your loss. Losing them is never easy no matter how much time we get. I totally get your grief and it sucks.

    I love all the pictures of him.

    Hugs
    Michelle & Angels Sassy, Bosch, Baby Simba and Sweet Snickers

  3. Denise Hull
    11:04 am - 3-14-2021

    So very sorry for your loss. Great pictures that really highlighted the life within him and the life with which you blessed him. Prayers and thoughts are with you.

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