Thursday, June 15, 2017

Navigating Grief

If  you've been reading any of my previous posts you already know that my companion of almost twenty years passed away August 21st of last year.  I have never felt the amount of grief from loosing someone that I have felt from loosing Cocoa.

I loved those family members that I have lost but Cocoa and I were connected on a different level.  When he died, I felt like a part of my spirit went with him.  Ever since the moment I saw him I knew he was the horse for me.  He wasn't what many people would call perfect but in my eyes he was.  All of his little quirks are things I found charming and cute, well most of the time.

This was taken one Michigan winter.  Cocoa loved playing in the snow.

We did have our times of struggles which were mostly on me.  He was always himself and just did his best to communicate to me when he really wasn't happy.  The more I started listening to him the deeper our connection grew.  The last couple of years he took care of me as much as I did of him.  He knew when I was having a rough day with my arthritis and would go extra carefully down the trail.  It was so sweet of him.

As this last winter passed I felt like I was doing better and able to handle life much easier again.  I even adopted Gemma in March and she's now been at the barn where I boarded Cocoa for two months.  I already love this mare and care for her deeply, the events of the last couple of weeks showed me that.  At the same time I sorely miss Cocoa but I am so glad he isn't living in pain which would've been a possibility due to the laminitis causing some rotation in his coffin bone last summer.  Even though I was going to have shoes put on him, utterly pain free may still not have happened.

Due to weather and migraines May was a rough month for making it out to see Gemma.  So due to how things worked out my husband took me out there on the 21st.  It wasn't the best day for her and I, she was being very emotional and so was I.  Not a good combination.  Through this I learned that I had been correct in avoiding the barn on the 21st of the month and I will now continue to do so.  I didn't realize how much the date could still affect me.  Since then I've been dealing with more grief and missing Cocoa.  We had been out on the trails by this time last year and enjoying our forays through the forest.

I took this on a fall trail ride a couple of years ago.

A week later my husband took me back out to see Gemma again and I found a gash on the right side of her jaw. We have no idea how it happened and I did end up calling the vet.  She got confined to a stall to help keep the bandage in place and so I rearranged everything to be out there everyday, that way she could be hand walked and grazed  She got cleared for turn out a week later and as of yesterday the wound is on it's last stage of healing.

While this wasn't even close to a life threatening situation, emotionally it has been very difficult for me to work through.  Too many memories of the five weeks that Cocoa was trying to heal from heat exhaustion and laminitis and then he was gone (we're not really sure what happened but he was in a lot of pain and the vet couldn't do anything for him).  Thankfully, Gemma is awesome and being a sweetheart through all of this.  I really can't ask for a better second horse.

Gemma, my sweet girl.

I think the most difficult thing is feeling split between missing Cocoa and loving Gemma.  I know this summer is going to be a tough one for me to get through but I know having Gemma to focus on will help me.  She is so wonderful, just like Cocoa but in her own unique way.  The strides our bond has taken through this time of her healing from the wound are amazing.  I am truly thankful to God for giving me such a blessing through my continued sorrow.

I know I'll always miss Cocoa and there will be easier days and more difficult days.  I am looking forward to having more easy ones again.  In the meantime I will keep letting the hope that God gives me pull me forward and enjoy life in the hear and now as much as I can.  Thankfully he has given me a wonderful, supportive husband, family, sweet cats, and a new equine companion that is very lovely.

I had my own notion of grief.
I thought it was the sad time
That followed the death of
someone you love.
And you had to push through it
To get to the other side.
But I'm learning there is no other side.
There is no pushing through.
But rather, 
There is absorption.
And grief is not something you complete,
But rather, you endure.
Grief is not a task to finish
And move on,
But an element of yourself -
An alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing.
A new definition of self.

That was something a family member shareed on Facebook and is definitely sums up what we go through when we loose someone dear to us.  I am not certain who wrote it since the original post didn't give credit to anyone in particular.

I also found this article, Stifled Grief: How the West Has It Wrong to be extremely true and a good read.  Because really any of us who has lost someone knows what it is like and truly understands the depth of loss and the black hole that is left by lack of the person's presence.  Yes, I just called my horse a person, deal with it.

The most help for me has been my faith in God and knowing that he will see me through each day as it comes and each trial as it comes.  With out his constant loving presence and strength I wouldn't be dealing with anything.  It's my hope of  his promises that are a comfort and further help me through the tough times and he also gave me a really good husband.

As long as I choose to see the things that I'm thankful for instead of all that is wrong, I can stay out of the deep pit of despair.  Don't get me wrong it still threatens me and there are times I start sliding down the slippery slopes but God always is there to catch me and pull me out. I know he will help me through this as I am rejoicing in the new bond that is forming with Gemma and grieving the loss of the bond that I had with Cocoa.

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