Recently I was in a Life Coaching session with one of my clients who told me a very touching, heartfelt story. She had gotten off early from work one day last week, so before she headed home to let her nanny off and to happily see her girls, she headed over to Trader Joes to get some of her kids’ favorite foods. The grocery list included Mac N Cheese, quesadilla ingredients, as well as those green vegetables she continuously attempts to get her kids to eat. While she was checking the items off her list, she called the nanny to see if there were any necessities missing from the fridge.
The nanny had mentioned that when they arrived at the house, after she picked up her two girls from elementary school, Megan age 5 and Alisa age 9, which their very sweet and very old dog Flower, was laying outside on the grass and couldn’t get up. The typical after school activities usually include getting the jackets and backpacks filled with books out of the car and into the house, snack time, homework, playtime, and then dinner. It was a bit cold and windy that day so instead the girls found a towel to place over Flower to keep her warm.
It reminded me of the time when I drove down to Orange County to take my parent’s dog on a walk while they were out of town. I had about 20 minutes to go before I would arrive to a wagging tail, when my cell phone rang. I turned down the volume on my stereo and pressed that green button on my mobile. It was my mom letting me know that they had just left Sin City and they were about 5 hours away. Although we experienced a few dropped calls and spotty reception, we were able to communicate what we needed to. We talked about how their trip was, and I gave her the update about their Cocker Spaniel, Dusty.
A few minutes later I arrived at their house and went in to greet a very excited dog. I gave him some water and made sure he had enough food in his feeder when the house phone rang. It was my parent’s phone which I have never answered before but there was this really strong voice I was hearing saying, “you should answer it.” So after about three rings, I did. I said hello and the voice on the other end of the line introduced herself as one of the nurses from the hospice where my grandma was, who we lovingly called Bubby, telling me those dreaded words, “this is it.”
Those are also usually words said by a soon-to-be mom that goes into labor. When my second nephew decided it was his time to come into the world, my sister’s water broke and we all drove over to the hospital where the exciting event was about to take place. She had been through this one other time before, so she was a bit more relaxed about letting some of us in the room where little Nathaniel was to arrive a few hours later. It was interesting and quite educational watching my sister go through the process of getting the epidural anesthesia and then breathing into her body, helping her reach as much relaxation as she could.
She was so very Zen about the whole thing and the energy in the room was amazing. Even with having family there to witness the entire thing, everyone was so relaxed and extremely excited at the same time. When it came time to push, the delightful nurses helped my sister up into position. It was so beautiful to see the crowning of the baby’s head as if to feel teased in his appearance. My sister, who barely seemed to break a sweat, was such an example of how special a woman’s beauty is in that moment.
Which is really an example of how special life is isn’t it? I frequently share one of my mantra’s with my Life Coaching clients which is “everyone is on their own path, at their own pace.” Something that is even true with regards to when we come into this world and when we decide to leave it. We develop relationships with other people that are so strong that we don’t realize how attached we are to having them in our lives. How great would it be if we could see people, friends and family, even our pets as enhancements to who we are?
I feel so blessed that I have had the privilege of watching a life come into the world and watching a spirit leave. They were two extreme experiences that remind me simply, that I am alive. Along with having to say goodbye, comes the process of having to come to peace with the fact that they are no longer here, in the way we are used to. Our ability to grieve is a personal one, including how and when. To the person grieving, we feel like we have to say something like “I’m sorry”, or “time heals all” when sometimes really the best thing to say is, “I don’t know what to say.”
Like the feeling of how incredible it was to watch my very cute nephew be birthed and then to hold him a few minutes later! We all got a sense of how powerful the woman’s body, stamina and capacity to create are. When Nathaniel’s head and arm pushed through, it was the first sign of him about to begin his first day in this new world. To help him completely come in to this part of his life experience, the nurse gently pulled him out.
We heard what sounded like a little lamb, but it was really Nathaniel saying hello to his family. That childlike wonder in me said quietly in my mind, “that was really cool!” I had the camera that day and I remember taking pictures of all these amazing first moments. Here we are almost a year later and we are about to celebrate his first birthday in a few weeks. I am so curious to see how his life will unfold. When he’ll take his first steps, evolve his baby talk into attempted words, and hold his Aunty Lani’s hand with intention.
As I drove over to the hospice and I parked my car, I was already creating my intention for these last hours I would be spending with my Bubby. It was to be a supportive, loving, and nurturing energy for her, like she had been to me growing up. When she passed the following morning and I watched her take her last breath, I had a whole different take on what life is about.
Although I cried for hours that day, once we left the hospice I didn’t cry for another three weeks. Even at the funeral I barely shed a tear. I guess I felt at that time that I wanted to continue to support others in their grieving, not realizing I was denying myself permission to as well. A few weeks later I woke up one night around 3am and finally let it out. I found myself walking aimlessly over to my computer and I started to type. By the time I was done I had created about 10 pages of feelings and memories of who my Bubby was to me and recognized that my process of grieving her loss was just fine. I did it in my own time and the way that felt best to me.
Like the girls who started to realize what was happening with Flower. The parents came home and had to make that really difficult decision of taking her to the vet. When they got her in the car, they invited the girls to say goodbye. Alisa was already allowing herself to openly express her sadness and opted not to. The time she spent with Flower outside on the grass was all she needed.
Megan on the other hand was cracking jokes, finding books to read and masking her sadness by pretending to cry. Her dad explained what they were about to do and that once they take Flower away, she’s not coming back. She did go out to the car to say goodbye, then came back in the house and proceeded to play. As a Life Coach and a friend, I was doing what I could to let her know that whatever she was feeling inside was fine and that if she wanted to show her sadness that was fine too.
Later that night I went to a speaking engagement where the panel just so happened to be about loss. The woman who spoke in regards to relationship loss, and loss from the death of a loved one, shared with us her story. She had lost her husband without notice and had a four year old son at the time. Her son didn’t allow himself to mourn the death of his dad when it first happened. That was difficult for her, especially having to go through the grieving process herself. It was years later when their dog died, that he finally cried about missing his dad. She expressed to her audience how interesting it is that we sometimes wish others would mourn the way we do but yet, they somehow find their way on their own.