Apr 26, 2012

How To Handle Grief

I actually have no idea how.  I've never lost anyone close to me.  However, I did lose a favorite dog once and that about sent me over the edge.  I'm a novice when it comes to this.  I have no pat answers.  I sure could have used some yesterday.

Last night, in a panic, Bennett starts yelling for us to run upstairs to his room.  So we run.  He's hysterical over his bird, Max.  Max is acting very atypical for a parakeet.  Bennett just knows something is wrong.  We start calling the pet stores.  We get advice.  We look up emergency vet clinics that take birds (none did).  We run to CVS to get a dropper (so Bennett can hand feed Max water).  We attach a heat lamp to the cage.  All in an attempt to show Bennett that what breaks his heart, breaks ours.

So we sit.  And we wait.  Together.

We are optimistic that maybe he'll make it til morning when we can rush to the vet as soon as it opens.  Bennett plans on doing an all night vigil with Max; holding him close to his heart and feeding him one drop at a time.  We desperately don't want to see a repeat of Azul.

But then the tide changes and Max takes a turn for the worse.  He's been stumbling all over the bottom of the cage, tripping and falling with every step.  Now he's just sitting in one spot, eyes closed and leaning over as if he's trying to lay his head down.  That's when we lost all hope.  Bennett is holding Max's head up, willing to keep him alive.

It didn't work.

Max put up a good fight.  It was too sad to watch, so we went in cuddled in my room instead.  Bennett was full of questions.  "I prayed.  I asked God to heal Max.  Why didn't He?  He could if He wanted to."

So true my friend.  I have no answers for you.  This is a hard place to be in.  It's okay to be angry.  It's okay to be sad.  Please try not to make this God's fault though.  Sometimes there are no answers.  It is what it is.  It's okay not to understand the 'whys'.  Words seem empty though in the midst of the pain.  So I stop talking and we just hold each other and I let him cry.

I let him stay home from school today to grieve.  Bennett is very free with his emotions and likes to talk about how he feels a lot.  We had many wonderful conversations, remembering Max.  He talked about what it felt like to lose a second beloved bird.  He said how bad he felt for Angel (his lone remaining bird).  And surprisingly, he thanked us.

He thanked me all day long for comforting him, for giving him the freedom and the time to grieve, for helping to cheer him up, for running out to get the dropper for Max (Daddy) and for cleaning up the cage and putting Max in a keeping place until his burial this evening (Daddy).  My son was full of thankfulness in the midst of his grief.  Amazing.

Two things of huge importance we talked about:

1.) When bad things happen that don't make sense and we know God can stop it, why doesn't he? As we were discussing this today he told me, "Mom, I'm still wrestling God about this, but I know He still loves me."  I told him how happy I was to hear that he chose to wrestle about an important issue to him and told him if he feels that God gives him an answer to please pass it on to me!  And I thanked him for his honesty.

2.) Try not to put up a wall to protect your sensitive little heart from hurt again.  It's a natural and understandable reaction.  It's the sensitivity that makes you love and care for all the animals so well.  It's part of who you are.  You start desensitizing yourself so that pain doesn't hurt so bad and you miss out on the beauty of life.  To quote Dumas,  "Only a man who has felt ultimate despair is capable of feeling ultimate bliss."

Goodbye Max.


 Angel & Max

Here's Bennett's story in his own words.
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