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To Grieve is to love and to love is to fully live

I had a best friend.

She happened to be a cat.

Her name was Miso. And, she died last week.

From the moment I fell madly in love with Miso16.5 years ago, I began to dread the inevitable likelihood that I would one day have to face her death. It seemed like every moment I shared with her held a majestic beam of light up to the knowledge of impermanence twinkling in my heart, creating a steady reminder of the rare gift of the finite time we would share. I knew Miso's passing would be one of the most difficult experiences of my life. And it was. Anyone who knows me well knows I don't cry easily, but in the last week - I wondered if human beings could die from tear shed dehydration as I sobbed like a two year old face down on the kitchen floor, the living room floor, my bedroom floor, on my bed, on the couch, in the car, on a chair, in the park, on the toilet. Pretty much all the time, and everywhere... for days. Long deep aching sobs, sobs you can barely breath through, sobs you think you might vomit from, sobs that convulse you from head to toe... the only words I could speak while sobbing were "Miso. No. I'm so sorry. I love you so much. Thank you". Not all at once, not in that order, and often times accompanied by moaning sounds I didn't even know my body could make.

It hurt so bad. It still hurts so bad.

But the biggest tidal waves have passed now, and some tender realizations have emerged.

I benefitted greatly from talking to friends and therapists who understand grief, and listening to podcasts about pet loss - so I wanted to throw my hat in the ring and write this essay for whoever might need it now, or someday in the (hopefully distant) future.

Miso had been sick for over a year (on medications that gave her excellent quality of life), and I knew that she could take a nose dive and pass anytime. I would often internally coach myself in order to prepare, and sometimes suddenly rush into a room to check and make sure she was still breathing after a hint ran through my mind that maybe the time had come and I missed it. She was always still breathing. Because Miso didn't naturally pass away. I had to face my greatest fear and be the one to make the decision to humanly end her life when her organs began to fail. I know it was the right thing to do. The hospital vet, and her primary care vet both told me it was the right thing to do, and that if it were their pet, they too would choose to end their suffering. Plus, the idea of waiting too long and then feebly standing by as she transitioned into an acute stage of pain was simply not happening on my watch. But, even with all the logical appropriate humane decision making of myself, my husband, and a team of veterinarians - it was still one of the hardest and most painful decisions of my life. Because I loved Miso so much. I loved Miso more than I knew I was capable of loving another living being. Miso taught me what love could be beyond the human concept that rings through our minds. She taught me about the love that silently passes like a lightening bolt of energy toward and between whatever we cherish most in life. I loved everything about her. I loved every moment with her. I loved every quirky and majestic queen like quality of her personality, the details of the patterns of her fur, the way she looked up at me when I called her name, the pink pads of her paws, how she stretched, and ate, and cuddled.


How could I choose to end that? How could anyone?

Something about love that our culture rarely discusses is that it doesn't only exist during the good, sweet, fun, and celebratory times. Sometimes love requires us to be fierce, protective, and stronger than we ever knew possible. Sometimes love tells us that no matter what we think or feel, there is something that we must accept in order to fully honor the love we share and posses with another. And sometimes, as much as I wish this wasn't true - sometimes that means we must accept that whether we like it or not, death is the final destination of our love. Whether someone we love passes, or we pass - that love given, received, and felt moves, shakes, and swirls at the threshold between who is still living and who has crossed over. After Miso's death, I now believe that grief is birthed when the immense surge of love energy shared is suddenly untethered because its ground channel for transference has become absent from the physical world. It is like your whole love operation, the one you have been shepherding and stewarding for years, suddenly gets unplugged, thrown upside down, and spilled all over... and this spill, this big mess of wild raw tender energy floods in all directions ..making waves that rock your body, mind, and emotions into pieces..

In the days after Miso's death when I was an emotional disaster of epic proportions, one of the things my friend said that has stayed with me and became the inspiration for this essay was that "The size of the grief is in comparison to the size of the love". (Thanks Luke, I love you). That struck such a deep chord and helped make sense out of what had felt like an embarrassingly messy out of control reaction to my cats passing. As this thought has sunk in more over the days, I have connected this truth to so many other aspects of my life. And recognize now the many ways in which I have not grieved for the losses of people, places, and things I loved dearly in the past. But instead stayed stuck in sort of numb sadness for weeks, months, or years. I now know, the tears are the way through the grief. I a