This subject has entire books written on it, but given some recent events I feel compelled to add my own thoughts to the already extensive work written on loss. Loss is one of the countless monsters a man has to face in this life. It is relentless, merciless, all-consuming and does not discriminate. The millionaire and the beggar alike will face loss. It will consume a man if he allows it to do so. On 4/21/20 the monster of loss struck my household, in arguably insignificant way: one of my rescue dogs (Luana) was killed in a freak incident involving another dog in the neighborhood.
She had been with us only about 4 months, but losing her tore a hole in what felt to be my very existence. I found her one January afternoon, dehydrated and nearly dead, terrified of people. Lots of effort and interaction later she had made a complete turnaround. A happy, social dog that unconditionally loved everyone she met. This narrative plays out innumerable times across the world: a kind, loving soul (animal or human) is taken out of this life way too soon and we are left to cope with the aftermath. My wife was especially devastated by what transpired that night. She told me repeatedly how it wasn’t fair and Luana didn’t deserve to die and be buried in the cold ground.
The pain of loss is a consuming vacuum. It’s a horrible “nothing” that you long to fill but never can. It’s a giant whole in the ground that no matter how much fill dirt or gravel is shoveled in, will always demand more. That person (or dog) is never coming back. But after a few days of feeling this horrible sensation of loss it dawned on me that anytime Luana detected anything less than happiness from me or my wife she would engage in all sorts of antics to make us laugh. She sat quietly at our feet many nights and kept watch from the porch over us when we all went to bed. It dawned on me that I was letting the loss destroy my life. Work going undone. Chores being left unhandled. If Luana had saw me that way she would have put her favorite pull rope toy in front of me and pestered me until I played tug of war with her. Life has to go on.
Eventually you learn to walk around that giant, bottomless hole or keep the pain at bay. Loss is one of the many monsters we fight, but it can be defeated with mental fortitude, determination, and support. If the monsters in your own life become too heavy, there is NO SHAME in reaching out for help. Pick up the phone, send that text, make that call. And always stay in the fight.
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