We Are Family – My Dogs and Me!


 

Dogs invite us into their world, and through that, our lives are deeply enriched.  My two beautiful white boxers, Miley and Casey, have brought me such happiness, love and calm after a terrible tragedy befell me.  They are a God-send.  I post this in order to celebrate our love and devotion for dogs, which in turn is reciprocated many times over by their love and devotion for us.

There is so much we can truly learn from dogs.  They teach us how to go with the flow of life.  And they are the kindest, most caring and devoted animals known to humankind. 
Dogs have become a part of our family and a part of our personal history. They live in the house with us; they sit and sleep together with us. They have brought something unique and fulfilling to our lives. They have loved us unconditionally and have taught us important lessons for better living — how to embrace life, how to enjoy the moment, how to let go when it’s time to let go, even when it seems way too soon.

While we struggle to figure out why we were put here on Earth, all a dog wants is to love and be loved — a powerful lesson for us all.

 

 

Furry Shrink

I’d double her life if I could —
we share a history.
When friends turn false, my dog stays true,
her head upon my knee.

She can erase my loneliness —
my pain melts in her eyes.
My dog lies close — she understands
what I cannot disguise.

 

I came across a couple of poems written about our love for dogs.

I think you’ll agree with their sentiments below.

 

 The Greeting

I open the door.
You are already
bounding to the door
with a wagging tail,
flashing teeth,
and four prancing paws.
Your healing power dissolves
the most difficult day
from memory.
A cold nose
and warm kisses
trigger a child’s laughter
from my heart.
I am a better human
for having you
in my life.

— Joan Noëldechen

 

 

 

Puppy Days

Bless this frisky puppy
Who’s into everything
His playful fresh behavior
Is like a day in spring

Remind me to be patient
When he’s chewed another book
Or races through the living room
With a newly laundered sock

He loves without condition
Gives me kisses every day
And greets me with a wagging tail
After I have been away

Like any other baby
He needs a lot of rest
When he falls asleep curled next to me
I know that I am blessed

— Louise Webster

 

 

 

Lessons

If I greeted everyone happily
Instead of eyeing with distrust
If I didn’t pass judgment
But accepted all
If I listened intently
With understanding in my eyes
If I brought comfort
All the time, no matter what
If I loved unconditionally
Without reservation
If I lived life more simply
Instead of worrying so much
If I played tirelessly
And didn’t work so hard
If I made people smile
Just by my presence in the room
If I experienced true joy
At the little things in life
Then I’d be the perfect friend
Just like my dog. 

 

 

You Really Want a Lifetime of Nothing Special?


 For the first time since his wife’s untimely death in March 2009, Liam Neeson spoke out about dealing with his personal pain in a candid interview for Esquire magazine.  In the interview, featured in the March issue, Liam spoke openly of the day his wife, actress Natasha Richardson, died following a skiing accident near Montreal at the age of 45.  In the wake of her death, Neeson said he coped by immersing himself in one of the things he knew best – work.

 

“I just think I was still in a bit of shock,” he told Esquire. “But it’s kind of a no-brainer to go back to that work. It’s a wee bit of a blur, but I know the tragedy hadn’t just really smacked me yet.”

 

“I think I survived by running away some.  Running away to work.  Listen, I know how old I am and that I’m just a shoulder injury from losing roles like the one in ‘Taken.’  So I stay with the training, I stay with the work,” he continued.  “It’s easy enough to plan jobs, to plan a lot of work.  That’s effective.  But that’s the weird thing about grief.  You can’t prepare for it.  You think you’re gonna cry and get it over with.  You make those plans, but they never work.” 

However, as the actor explained, it only postponed – not prevented — the pain from setting in from losing the woman he married in 1994 and had two children with.

 

“It hits you in the middle of the night — well, it hits me in the middle of the night.  I’m out walking.  I’m feeling quite content.  And it’s like suddenly, boom,” he said.

 

These are candid remarks from Liam.  I know these feelings all too well from the loss of my husband by suicide – anyone who has  suffered  a tragedy losing a loved one from an accident, a malignant illness, or a suicide knows how he feels.  If you or someone you know shares these feelings and reactions, remember that you are not alone.  And sometimes the best feeling in the world with loss, especially from a tragedy, is to know that you are not alone. 

 

 Suddenly, without notice, your whole world changes drastically and completely.  Much like Liam, you fight back tears every second and wonder how in the world you can live without your loved one.  You are numb and yet feel every emotion simultaneously. 

 Being alone some days is more comforting than forcing yourself to be in a good mood to have coffee with a friend.  Friends struggle to say the right things to help, but they feel helpless as well.  It’s an invisible barrier that separates even family. 

A remedy for heartache is to lead as happy a life as possible.  Genuine friends understand that you are doing your best to work through your grief and trying to reinvest in life itself.  If others don’t understand, don’t worry about them.  Surviving and rebuilding your life is what is truly important and is what your lost loved one wants for you.   Don’t lose sight of that … it will help see you through!

Remember to start slowly and move carefully with friends who are supportive and understanding.  Meet for lunch or dinner; take a walk on the beach at sunrise or watch the sunset with them. 

Recognize that you’re living through a terrible tragedy, yet still have to survive.  It takes practice, lots of it, to take one moment one day at a time.  You had no choice and no control over the suicide but you now have a choice to survive and live through it and even have moments of happiness and joy.  It does take practice.  Ten months after my husband Martin’s death, I’ve finally realized:

 

 Now is the time to dance because the longer you wait, the easier it is to keep waiting, endlessly, and then life passes you by.  Regrets form and you spiral further downward.  Dance while things are unacceptable and imperfect and things will get better, I promise you.  Take baby steps, and it will create more smiles, give you a brighter outlook and make it possible for you to enjoy life again, with all its inherent flaws.  Happiness will develop little by little.

 

I feel this loss so enormously because I had amazing love.  While I miss Martin terribly, “I’d rather have three minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special.”   

Start dancing in the rain – life is too short.  What are you waiting for?

 

 

 

 

 

Attitude Towards Depression


 

In the sweetness of friendship, let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures.  For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.   —Kahlil Gibran

 

Taking care of a depressed person is often very stressful and frustrating.  Many close to a depressed person have  tried everything they know in order to get the person to seek help.  They have also struggled with trying to make things better for the depressed person, often to the point of their own exhaustion.  Sometimes, caretakers become depressed themselves as they find their efforts have made little difference.  Family and friends of depressed people miss the former person they knew.  They see the dark cloud of depression not only affecting the person’s life, work and family, but they see it eating away at their own relationship as well.

Those close to a depressed person often struggle with their own feelings toward that person.  Feelings of concern, frustration and fear combined with futile efforts to make things better can lead to stronger feelings of anger, helplessness, despair, resentment and guilt.  Please know these feelings are very normal.  No one can make another person get help for depression and no one can take away another person’s depression.

People who are depressed may behave in ways uncharacteristic for them when they are not depressed.  It is not uncommon for a depressed person to be irritable, angry, argumentative, withdrawn, unmotivated, lethargic and self-defeating.  They may say things that are hurtful, harsh, irrational or unusual.  For those who are not depressed, these behaviors are hard to understand and very difficult to bear.

As a relative or friend of a depressed person you should pay attention to your own feelings.  If you find that you are feeling overwhelmed, overly frustrated, depressed, anxious, exhausted, or guilty, then it is time to start taking better care of yourself.  You cannot help another person if you are struggling yourself. 

 Please remember your feelings and reactions are normal.  It is essential to take good care of yourself.  Friends and family of those who are depressed experience a range of emotions from compassion and empathy to anger, frustration and even hatred.  These feelings can be expected since it is very difficult not to take personally a depressed person’s behaviors.  A depressed person’s life is being negatively affected by depression, but so is yours.

You don’t have to be alone.  Dealing with depression on your own can be a lonely and isolating task.  Your friends may not understand, yet you need the support of others.  Depression is a common illness, and there are many others who also have a depressed person in their lives.  You may wish to join a support group and connect with others who understand your struggles.  Talking about your feelings, getting the issues out in the open in itself can help relieve you of some of the stress just knowing others are there to listen and support you as well.

Please remember it’s not your fault.  It is not uncommon for family and friends of depressed people to feel guilty or wonder if they hold some responsibility for another person’s depression.  Depression does not occur because of anything you say or do.  Depression is a medical condition, like diabetes or heart disease, that needs to be treated.

 Your feelings will change with time.  Family and friends of depressed people go through various emotional phases.   Initial reactions include disbelief or denial.  It may seem that depression will just magically go away if it goes unacknowledged.  After some time, people may experience some anger or resentment that life as they know it has changed.  People also may feel grief that the person they once knew seems lost to them.  After a depressed person seeks treatment and begins to feel better, family and friends often feel relieved and lucky or blessed that things are improving again.

But don’t lose hope.  Depression is a very treatable illness!  Psychotherapy and/or medication have been shown to be quite effective. 80% or more of those who seek help for treatment can feel better within several weeks.  

Take good care of yourself.  You need to set boundaries and limits on how much you can and will do.  This is a healthy and necessary thing to do.  And it is okay to take a vacation from caretaking once in a while.  Schedule time for yourself and do things that bring you enjoyment and satisfaction to keep yourself healthy.  This is not being “selfish,” it is being healthy and compassionate towards yourself.  You may also choose to seek counseling in order to have a place to process and manage your own feelings.

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.   — Khalil Gibran 

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~