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  • Writer's pictureSian Storey

“We have come to see that grief is not something you pass through, as there is no other side.”

Updated: May 22, 2020

Issue #95 of Nick Caves “The Red Hand Files” very much struck a chord with me. We have come to see that grief is not something you pass through, as there is no other side. For us, grief became a way of life, an approach to living, where we learned to yield to the uncertainty of the world, whilst maintaining a stance of defiance to its indifference”.

It’s always the way, I think, that when you are experiencing something yourself, you see meaning in what others have written or expressed, a kind of confirmation bias I suppose.

Rob and I recently adopted a rescue dog, Arthur, an elderly, blind and mostly deaf Jack Russell cross who bulldozed his way into our life the way he had with many others that he had had the good fortune to come across in the last two and half months of his life. He was starting to find his way around the house without suffering too much trauma…he’d clearly been used to doing this for a while.

Arthur on his way to us
Arthur - our Dogs Trust rescue

His history was largely unknown but relatively easy to extrapolate. Found wandering the streets in an Irish town, he was brought in already emaciated and no amount of feeding at the foster carers helped to change this. Alert number one, something going on in his gut.

He had a little pink nose that the Vet thought might be from constant rubbing on metal bars. Alert number two, a breeding dog most likely and although not overtly physically abused, certainly neglected.

I can’t even cut a long story short as we only had him for 6 days, 5 nights, before he died. A large intestinal bleed and it seemed cruel to put him through yet more change and uncertainty with investigations, admission to the Vets, another separation…….and so he went to sleep. I still haven’t found a euphemism for euthanasia that I am comfortable with but “put to sleep” is the one that causes me less qualms.

I certainly wasn’t expecting the overwhelming hurt and pain that engulfed me after the discussion on the phone with the Vet to “let Arthur go”. I also don’t wish to trivialise anyone else’s experience of grief for someone they have loved dearly and deeply. They are incomparable. They are all so very subjective.

But all the hurt that I had felt with those that I have loved and lost over the years…both family and friends, human or otherwise…….all came crashing down on me in one fell swoop. That’s what grief was like for me sitting in the Vets car park unable to touch or hold Arthur again, a collective of emotions that ran amok. Intensified perhaps by the current situation with Covid 19?

I also agree with Nick Cave when he says that there is no other side. I live WITH it. He goes on to say, “that in time, there is a way, not out of grief, but deep within it” and that resonated with me this week when I read this deeply moving issue. Grief, for me at least, doesn’t go away but I wrap myself around it and go on with the daily living, finding joy in all the painful intrusions that those that have died have left for me to find. There are plenty when you start to look.

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