“I can’t help you, Ann.”
On a December 13th afternoon, a light in my life had gone out. I went out for a ride on a normal Sunday afternoon and came back a different person. It started out normal enough but ended with my horse breaking her leg and having to be put down. In my moment of deep grief, I had called my father, while I cried big choking sobs into the phone, he listened. The words he said to me; “I can’t help you Ann”, hung in the air like a knife. I had called my father without really thinking about it. As soon as he said those words, I knew I had asked my father for something he couldn’t give. More than awkward with deep emotion, he just didn’t go there.
My father’s solution to any type of deep emotional pain was to throw money at it. When I broke up with a boyfriend, he would send me two hundred dollars, just so I could “feel better”. While some people would damn him for not being supportive, I knew better. I knew my father just couldn’t handle deep emotions and felt powerless in the face of them. Even for emotional events, money was still his currency. I had only seen my father cry once- when as a child I stumbled downstairs to go to the bathroom at night after my Grandmother’s death. I saw him leaning on the ottoman silently weeping. It scared me- my father always had all the solutions, so the fact that he could cry meant to me that the world truly was a scary place.
I am talking about this because when you need emotional support for a loss, you should find someone capable of doing that for you. That may not be a relative and may need to be a grief professional. We aren’t trained in life on how to handle grief, there is no high school class in how to process your emotions. My father was a farmer who went to a rural school. His only experience with grief was his own personal one, which was limited. He had chosen to put his emotions in a box, and act stoic most times. That isn’t a solution to helping someone in the throes of deep grief. I understood this and respected him for it. He knew his limits. I think he also knew if he got too close to raw grief, it might be a key that would unlock his own buried lockbox of pain. That was why he couldn’t even talk about it.
What I did then was to go back to an ex-boyfriend who had lost his mother. He understood deep grief, and held me while I cried copiously, not judging me for it. I gained a solid strength in that support, a support I needed so desperately. Sometimes with grief it is those who have lost the most that can stand to see the depths of your pain.
Judgement has no place in helping people grieve. I was gratefully that neither my Dad, nor lover said stupidly- “it’s just a horse. You will get over it.” When you are going through it, it feels like you will never “get over it”. It’s like lancing a gigantic boil- all the pus must come out before you can even think about the healing of it. People that say otherwise many times are uncomfortable with your grief, they want you to put it away, they don’t want it out there in full display for everyone to see.
You have to meet people where they are and forgive them if they just don’t have it in them to give you what you want or need. You wouldn’t expect to grind up apples and have that be lemonade. People can’t give what they don’t have or are afraid to look at within themselves. Grief brings up how many things we can’t control; how close we are to loss.
Don’t judge people for what they can’t do for you, love them where they are at. Then find the people who support you and give you what you need. The Angels are always opening doors for us to find what we need to learn. When my mother died, I went to the Sufi’s and let them chant over me in Arabic while I cried. It was what I needed at the time. Remember to look for what you need, no matter what direction it comes from. That is actually coping with your grief. By doing that, you will build a resiliency that allows you to be there for others if they should come to you when they have a loss.
Ann Hoff is a well-known Animal Communicator and a regular contributor to our FB Group “I Am not Crazy Because I Talk to Animals” and leads a monthly Zoom call with members wishing to chat with a pet, or simply ask Ann a question.
Losing a beloved pet and feeling overwhelmed with grief? Pet loss often feels like a disenfranchised grief and others – non-pet owners and sometimes pet “owners” – can make you feel less than for being unable to pull it together. Pets are family. Losing a family member is heartbreaking. Take time to heal. Reach out for help. And if you know someone who has lost their pet, take the time to let them know you understand and care. It will mean the world to them.
PetPerennials.com offers thoughtful ways to send support to those dealing with the loss of a pet. We understand. We’ve been there too.