It’s OK To Not Be OK.

Christel Van Gelder Stories Leave a Comment

In my last post, I mentioned the —brutal—passing of my beloved cat Tootsie.

During the first week of January, Tootsie was cornered by my dogs when we were out for dinner. Needless to say, she didn’t survive. Three big dogs and a small one were too many for her to escape. Dogs are animals. I can’t blame them or be angry with them, as they went with their instinct, to hunt, to attack, then kill. It sounds harsh. And it is. But it’s nature. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t upset. We all were. My husband and son kept me away from the crime scene. They cleaned up the mess and we buried little, brave Tootsie, wrapped in a blanket in a tiny cat bed. May she sleep safe and in peace.

The days after I felt numb. Didn’t know what I was doing, where I was going. On auto-pilot. Grief made me slow down.

I reminisced about that day that Tootsie walked into my apartment. She must have been about 7 to 8 months old at the time. It was a few months after leaving my home and ex — yes in that order — and I had already a rescue dog, Blondie. Tootsie walked through my front door as if she owned the place. Not afraid of the dog. Not shy at all. And she decided it was a good place for her to call home. She chose me of all the people living in the apartment complex.

So you understand her death was a blow. She was with me for nearly nine years. I felt like I failed her because I couldn’t save her from my other pets, which became part of our household after she did.

When we discovered what had happened, many “what-if’s” passed through my head. About how I could have prevented this. About why I didn’t leave some food out in my office instead of in the kitchen. About why I didn’t think to lock her in a room.

But I can’t turn back time. If only I had a Delorean now, I could go back and undo what happened. But I don’t and I can’t.

So the only thing I can do is accept it happened. I don’t have to like it. But nothing I do or say or think will change reality now. I can only deal with it the way I know how to. Which is to have a good cry now and again. To whisper a silent “goodnight Tootsie”. To say “sorry for not being there in time”. To curl up under a blanket and take care of my hurt soul.
Knowing that it’s OK to not be OK, because at the moment, quite honestly, I’m not OK at all.

Why did I share this story?

Because I want you to know that losing someone dear to you — even a pet — can be very hard. But it’s not necessary to keep up a brave façade. To hide your tears. It’s OK to not be OK.

Because when you work hard to keep up that false façade to the outside world it’s going to:
1) totally drain you,
2) you’re not honouring your emotions and your body will react when you keep things bottled up,
3) and in the end, people will see right through you.

So believe me, better let it out. Scream. Cry. Talk about it with someone you trust.
Make time for yourself. Make a hot drink, curl up under the blankets, listen to some sad music or watch that movie that always makes you cry. Actively stir up those emotions, so you can let them out, free yourself of them, and feel some relief.

If your loss is big, I guarantee you those emotions will come back. And that’s OK as well. Grieving is not a quick-fix, nor can it be done by taking the fast lane. Let your pain exist. Honour it. Wallow in it if you need to. Then let go, slowly. Because as one of my coaching teachers once told me: “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” The more you allow yourself to feel, the better you’ll deal with what happened. The better you’ll deal with things that may hurt your in the future.

If you’re putting up a front, hiding behind toughness, (wo)manning up, so no one can see your pain, maybe it’s time for a talk. Email me or go here and schedule that chat with me.

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