My Dog Died (otherwise entitled The Right to Grieve)
On September 22nd I had to have my sweet doggie put to sleep due to complications of myasthenia gravis and megaesophagus. (Big words, eh? They make me sound smart.) She was my 30th birthday present and my precious little baby.
I mean, I loved this dog.
Saying goodbye to her was utterly tragic. I got to hold her for awhile first. She still had her IV inserted, listless from 7 days without food and water. All I could think was, “This is the last time I will see her wag her little tail. This is the last time I will feel her fuzzy ears. This is the last time she will look at me with her chocolately brown eyes.” There are only a handful of times when I have been so broken-hearted.
Mixed with my tears, however, was a nagging guilt that I didn’t have the ‘right to grieve’ over this. Part of me acknowledged that my heart was torn in two, but a larger part of me felt pinned under the guilty feeling that grieving over a dog is silly. Maybe even stupid. People are starving, children are trapped in sex trafficking, someone is losing their wife to cancer… and I am crying. Over. A. Dog.
But here’s the thing… death is wrong. Death is the evidence that something is not right in the universe, that something has gone terribly awry.
Death is the antithesis of life.
I have every right to grieve over the loss of life.
I lost my niece a few months ago. She was born and died at the hospital, gone before mommy and daddy could bring her home to dress her, bathe her, tickle her little toes. It wrecked me, made me ask questions I couldn’t put into words.
I lost my nephew many years ago. He was born and died at the hospital. He was 15 oz. and his head fit in the palm of my hand. He was perfectly formed… fearfully and wonderfully made. While my sister was unconscious I cradled him, dressed him, counted his fingers and toes. He was pink and slightly warm when I first took him, and cold when I handed him over.
It wrecked me.
For years I believed I didn’t have the right to grieve over him because I wasn’t his mother. He wasn’t my son. I believed I didn’t have the right to grieve over my niece either… because I didn’t carry her for 10 months, didn’t choose her name, didn’t rearrange my life around her life.
Recently the inevitable happened… I broke. In my mind I was holding my little nephew again, closed eyes and dainty little mouth, unmoving chest, raging against Jesus, yelling at Him, “THIS IS NOT GOOD!” and he so gently says, “I know. But I am good.” I just argue, crying out over and over, “But THIS is not good!” and He just replies, over and over, “I know. But I and good.”
I cry so hard and for so long that I break the capillaries under my eyes… that I end up vomiting. Jesus says to the lukewarm Christians in Laodicea, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” The literal translation for ‘spit’ is ‘to vomit’ and ‘to reject with extreme disgust.’ I am like Jesus, I have to get this out and away from me.
I reject death with extreme disgust.
“Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”