A message from Joan Souders, CGE, grief support specialist

I live in a 55+ community and have been approached by neighbors about their dying loved ones. Like a good neighbor, I listen and support them as much as I can. Over the past few months, I have observed some touching scenes of companionship. 

When you live alone you often find a companion, usually a four-legged one, to share your life with. 

The other day I was called to a home and there lying in the bed was a lady who had died. I walked into the room and saw her little dog lying by her shoulder looking up at me. Lily was this lady’s companion, and you could see just how sad the little dog was. Grief impacts all creatures. 

I recalled my next neighbor who had picked up her little dog who died and the tears that ran down her face as she placed him in the car to go be buried. Her heart hurt for the loss of companionship.

Grief is the loss of companionship and love. Each of us who are experiencing a loss hurts deeply. It seems like the pain will never go away. It doesn’t! It softens as we move through our grief.

At first, grief is like a sharp sting, and it seems unbearable. As time moves forward and we begin to live with our loss, it becomes more like a wound that is healing and less painful. 

Grief steals from us that companionship we had throughout our life. We feel abandoned and lonely, and we question if we can handle the pain. Losing companionship is fearful. We question how and when that emotional need will be replaced or even if we want it replaced. 

Fear can grip us and keep us locked in our grief, or we can allow it to evolve in time to a new life. We become grateful for the companionship we had, and we look for the support and care that comes as we journey through our grief. With the memories of our loved companion guiding us, we can develop new friends and companions. 

The story of these two neighbors reminds me that love comes in all forms. Companionship is a gift. Grief is love. Love never fails even in death.

Do you want to speak to someone about your grief?

Processing your story and journey in a supportive environment can be healing. Connect with a Heartlinks grief counselor by calling (509) 837-1676.

Heartlinks’ grief support groups provide a safe place to share one’s emotions with others who are also grieving. They are a great place to learn from others’ experiences. RSVP is not required. Visit our Grief Support page to learn more about upcoming groups in your area.

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