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Lessons learned in grief

I have been MIA for a bit. Truth be told, the past couple of months have been a blur. If you have been following my blogs, you know that I was the proud mom of a senior dog, Cammy. She was my heart and soul. I blogged recently about noticing her declining health over the past few months and how difficult it was to watch my once energetic and playful pup, struggle to walk. I guess you could call it a mom's intuition, but in mid-August, I knew the end was near.

Fortunately my job permits me to work from anywhere, so I decided to load Cammy up and drive home to Georgia on August 21. Over that next week, Cammy's health declined rapidly. She was disoriented and visibly uncomfortable. It broke my heart to see her struggle like this. On Saturday, August 29, I made the most difficult decision of my life. Cammy crossed over the rainbow bridge and is no longer in pain. She is chasing her tennis ball and squirrels around heaven.

As Cammy's pain ended, I knew mine was just beginning. I had a difficult road ahead of me. Tears are flowing as I type this over a month later. The pain is still raw. I miss her every single day.

I have had people close to me die before, but never someone I lived with or would consider immediate family. For 13 years and 4 months, she was my best friend. Others came and went, but Cammy was my one true constant. I didn't know how I would cope, but I feel I have learned a lot over the past month and I wanted to share with you. My hope is that it helps someone else when they are grieving or when someone close to you is grieving and you aren't sure how to communicate with them.

First, I have learned that everyone grieves differently. Some people may want to move back to their normal routine immediately. Others may want to lay in bed for a week and not see anyone. There is no right or wrong answer here. Grief is deeply personal and each person will handle it in their own way. Don't assume that you know what someone else wants/needs, and please don't make decisions on their behalf just so they don't have to deal with them. You may assume you are helping by taking things off of their plate, but please ask how you can help them and don't assume you know what they would want you to do.

It's okay to be sad and cry - it's actually healthy. Once I got back to Miami, I didn't want to see or talk to anyone for awhile. My friends invited me to hang out at the beach, dinner, and drinks, but I just didn't want to do anything. And that's okay. I wanted to grieve and mourn Cammy. I wanted to lay in bed and cry myself to sleep. I wanted to watch Netflix and drink wine. I craved stormy, overcast days. I didn't want to see the sun. I just wanted to exist for a bit.

Don't ask people if they are okay. I didn't realize how much I didn't like this question until recently. I know it comes from a good place and it is asked with positive intent, but it's a question I just didn't want to answer. The truth is one minute I am okay, and the next I am in the floor sobbing. What I loved most were the "Thinking of you" texts. It felt good to be thought of, and even better to know I could respond with a heart emoji and not have to actually come up with a response. Let people know you are thinking of them, but don't expect a response.

Never underestimate the impact of cards and gifts. I really realized how truly blessed I am during this process. I received sympathy cards, flowers, and so many thoughtful gifts from family and friends. I had people who I wasn't even that close with send me gifts and cards. I can't put into words how much this helped me get through each day. After a rough day, it was so nice to receive a sweet card in the mail. And the people who put the time and effort into sending me gifts that would help me keep Cammy's memory alive. I will never be able to tell each of them how much their kindness helped me during my darkest days.

Grief comes in waves. I have heard this saying before, but I now truly understand what it means. I remember one day going for a 4 mile run. I came back to my condo and I was feeling great - endorphins were flowing and I was feeling accomplished! Then I saw a man walking a white lab. It looked just like Cammy. My heart felt like it stopped beating for a few seconds. I barely made it inside my condo and I collapsed on the floor sobbing. Literally one minute completely changed the rest of my afternoon. I showered and got in bed and didn't get back out until the next morning.

The phrase "Be kind to every person you meet" took on a new meaning for me. I remember going into a CVS not long after Cammy passed away. My eyes were red and swollen from crying. I was definitely a hot mess! The cashier was so nice to me. She complimented me on my hat (a custom Hollywood's Couture special I might add), and wished me a nice evening. Her kindness really resonated with me. The truth is we are all facing trials and tribulations every day. Never underestimate how much a smile or a kind word can turn someone's day around.

It's been a little over 5 weeks without Cammy. They say time heals all, but I am not so sure. I believe I will always miss her. I will just learn to live without her. More importantly, I am going to remember what I have learned through this experience, and I hope that I am a better friend to others when they grieve. I will also strive to be nicer to random strangers that I meet. We never know what someone else is going through. Be kind. Always.


Holly B.

Cammy Hunt

April 29, 2007 - August 29, 2020

Always alive in my heart


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