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I can't even think straight anymore...too much going on with this whole Christmas thing and most of it isn't good.

We've been to another Christmas party and it wasn't good, even though I'd thought this one would be. I don't know what's up lately, but wherever we go, topics and added pressures that normally don't come up are abounding, and it's making my pain worse than ever. This time, someone brought up the topic of how animals that are eaten as food suffer so tremendously in this industry. I know ALL about it and have for years, but I couldn't bring myself to add my 2 cents because the host of this party was SO loudly and busily defending such practises, having to be 'right', having to justify and sway everyone in the room to his viewpoint. I tried to ignore it and listen to other conversations, but he was so LOUD, and I was 'trapped' in a corner while everyone ate their food with plates on their laps.

While I did manage to lay down with their 2 cats for awhile (with the coats in the bedroom) and had a small cry while cuddling them, and had some nice, quiet time feeding them the catnip I'd brought for them, I also didn't catch any breaks from people asking about our gal...was she still alive? No, she passed recently...more questions, some sharing back about their own animals (both passed and present)...but very little understanding of my grief or our bond. Many glazed eyes and no real relationships with their own animals.....the dog's "dumb as a post"...the cat's a "mystery". I could hear the unspoken thoughts....they don't actually THINK, do they? Or FEEL?

Naturally the host (and avid hunter as well; we've had a few debates on this each year) not only had forgotten that we'd already made it quite clear, 2 months ago, that Nissa was our fur-daughter, but was perplexed by my sorrow. He'd thought I was trying to be funny when I'd said I was just trying to get by this season. I was so sick of this whole evening that later I had to remind him that Nissa was our feline daughter and if he could try to imagine how HE'D feel if one of his 2 daughters died...no, he said he didn't even want to GO to such a place. I said I did't have to imagine such sorrow. Even then, no real understanding... will you get another one then, or would that feel too disrespectful of her memory? Yes, and no, BUT...if you'd lost a daughter and someone asked you right away if you were planning on adopting 'another one', how would you feel? I hoped he was embarrassed. I'm so sick of this minimizing of grief, relationship, attachment, deep bonds, of trying to be 'understanding' myself, of others ignorance. I'M the one who needs such understanding right now, dammit! Not 'them'!

By the time I finally met someone who may have understood, who was going through HER first Christmas w/o her father and who has 2 dogs herself who she loves dearly...I was totally sapped of all strength and could barely even reach out. The host's wife was a little better, having offered 2 other friends of theirs time to spend with their 2 cats, and one dog, when these friends had lost their own companions. She did offer me the same, but they live so far from us, it's not practical...and then I'd have to spend time with this man who doesn't really understand. NO THANKS!

Everyone in this family was taken aback and perplexed by their 2 cats NOT hiding all evening...they were busy being sociable, getting cuddled by me and one other woman who actually liked cats (glory be!). We tried to explain to some people that animals (especially cats...sigh) react to what you do and don't expect of them..and if you give them none or little credit, they'll only comply with your rigid views. Why would they reach out if YOU don't meet them half-way? It was all so exhausting...but the only way to stop them from making nothing but disparaging remarks about animals. I didn't WANT to play 'teacher'...I wanted someone, anyone, to say something empathetic, like, "I'm surprised you're even HERE, at a party, after such a major loss...so soon after!"

I tried to tell my H that I was at the end of my rope, but frankly, he was too drunk by then to truly care...and get us the hell OUT of there! Too busy enjoying his own socializing. Even now...HE doesn't understand...not really....not enough for me.

And now, one more stupid party to attend next week...only because I want my animal books that I lent back from the host. I'm going to make it quite clear...we're only staying about one hour, and that's IT. And this party is by the woman who sent me that insensitive email story, and who has NEVER called me since I spoke up for myself and said that I didn't find it helpful. In fact, every single person I've told about this has offered NOTHING in the way of understanding WHY this story was so hurtful. Just as they don't 'get' my grief, I don't 'get' their lack of reasoning. It's NOT 'rocket science', after all...it's basic courtesy and a little bit of empathy.

The ONLY good thing this week, was that one distance friend actually sent us not only a card (the only one YET from a friend this year), but a little something I found hanging on one of our trees (so my H was in cahoots on this). I made sure I wrote her right away, in thanks and gratitude for thinking of me this season. And I also sent a "thinking of you" card to other friends who'd just lost their dad. BUT, I'm not ever expecting ever again, that these same kindnesses will ever be returned. I've also learned they almost never are. The anger inside is building....

Edited by Maylissa
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I give you credit for being able to stay there. stupid people that is all i can say. someday they will experience grief and hopefully understand it. maybe not. i am glad they had the cats for you to snuggle with. if you don't want to go to the other parties don't go. just do what you can. i am praying for you. Lori

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Maylissa, dear ~

I am reminded of a line by David Kessler (nationally recognized leader in the field of hospice and palliative care, who co-authored with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross the book,On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief through The Five Stages of Loss) which he shared during a presentation on compassion fatigue: Why do we keep looking for support in all the wrong places? It's like shopping for milk in a hardware store!

While I can certainly understand your husband's need to go out and have a good time (perhaps as his way of escaping the sadness at home, if only for a while), it seems to me that in your present state of mind, it just makes good sense to protect yourself by intentionally avoiding situations and gatherings where you are more likely to encounter the insensitivity of others ~ such as at noisy holiday parties where (despite how they are feeling on the inside) everyone is expected to put on a happy face, merry-making is the order of the day, alcohol flows freely and the conversation is superficial at best.

In any event, I just discovered an article that could've been written just for you, Maylissa ~ and if you take the time to explore the rest of this site, I think you'll find some comfort as well as some good information there. Click on Winter Holidays ~ Trying to Cope.

See also A Different Kind of Parenting, which explains how Kara Jones came to develop her "ezine" ~ and please do let me know what you think.

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Thanks for the credit, the kind words and support. Now I've caught some cold (probably at that same party!), so if I go at ALL to this last one, it'll only be for a very short while, to collect my books from the husband. I just kind of figure I ought to retrieve them ASAP, as I don't intend on calling the wife anytime soon (because of HER insensitive behaviours), but I do want my books back and it'll be even more awkward if I leave this too long if we're no longer speaking. At least at a party of theirs, I won't be 'trapped' into being ONLY with them. I won't, however, be deliberately visiting with the cats in their household, as the wife sounded REALLY offended when I'd previously half-jokingly suggested the next time we were over, I'd really like to curl up with the cats for a nice, quiet snooze. So there'll be none of that allowed in HER household! Pretty selfish, is all I can say. And if we don't go, maybe my H can just pop over sometime and get them back for me. I'll ask him.


Yes, David Kessler was right. I KNOW too many of these people aren't good for me...I just keep trying to give them the benefit of the doubt and let them show me that they're NOT all that bad...and just keep getting proved wrong! :glare:

And yes, I realize my H uses these social occasions as his own form of relief (not that I think drinking TOO much is a very healthy way to get this ), from not only my sorrow but his stress at work. If I'd known how exactly to get home from there, I would have just packed him in his car with me and left earlier...and not had anything to drink myself, either. I hadn't realized just how MUCH he'd had until it was too late. So I was stuck because he couldn't have driven at that point, so I had to wait until much later. (for the next party, if we even go, he plans on not drinking at ALL, as these people never provide any alcohol anyway)

It really is a shame I was so flustered by the time that other grieving woman showed up, as she had tears in her eyes too, and we probably could have really connected. She worked with my H and was appreciative of his attitude towards her when she lost her dad, so may have even been considering us a 'safe haven' at this party. However, I also realized I wasn't capable of being someone else's leaning post, so c'est la vie.

I read through most of that site (and followed some of the other links as well), as well as the other link and as usual, I'm so glad you provided these to me. It's not often enough that I find others whose families and relatives are as closed-off as mine (although the author at least has her husband to commiserate with on a equal basis). I do realize the marked difference one's upbringing has on how loss is dealt with (or not!) and I try to keep this in mind, but understanding and allowing for that does nothing to alleviate the feeling of being left still wanting and empty after trying to do the 'right' things and reach out in my pain. And there's often no way to predetermine who's going to be receptive and understanding until one does.

With those I already know, and have assessed as not being very receptive, I'm often still wont to back away for 2 reasons. One, there are so few people here for me to begin with (so I'm settling for crumbs even though I don't really want to), and two, I keep hoping to see some spiritual principles really born out, with persistence...things like "The surest way to make a man is to THINK him so," and the like. So sometimes it's just hard to know where to draw that line and simply let them go. Plus, they all feel like just MORE losses (which they will, indeed, be, if I do let them go) on top of all the other ones I've already had. This world is just getting way too small for me!

I've actually done what Kara did, and stopped not only attending family functions, but subjecting myself to their presence at ALL, in the past. To be

'forced' to do this with those I chose as friends, though...is much harder. I do see her point, though ( and yours ), although I balk at leaving myself all alone here, w/o being able to find any 'replacements' for those holes.

I did enjoy her Dictionary of Loss and found many of the phrases and words could equally apply to animal loss if one considers oneself to have been a 'parent'...but then I always knew that. But again, it's not like I can join their 'group' because I wouldn't 'qualify' as a childless mom.

In my own best interests, I also tried attending an art therapy class that was supposed to be for ANY kind of loss, of any 'degree', on the suggestion that I might meet other fellow animal lovers there. I did not, though...and I didn't even like the form of therapy! There's another course coming in the spring on the human-animal bond, but it's still headed by the same art therapist, so I'm not sure it'll be any more successful for me. I keep TRYING to find other resources here, but keep running up against brick walls....which only serves to depress me even more with each failure. I'm starting to really panic that I'm NEVER going to find even one, lousy friend who I can count on to BE a friend, and who's here. I've been waiting and searching now for about 30 years, to no avail.

As my H tells me, he's not a "touchy-feely" or really "sensitive" kind of guy, and never will be, so I can't ever rely on him to fill all these needs, which are naturally highest after loss. He says he's even "incapable" of spontaneously remembering and sharing any GOOD memories of our kidlets and us, as a family, yet wants to see me get to THAT spot...but won't help me to get there. So even if I was lucky enough to find a good friend, I'll never get that from them, either, as they won't have known Sabin and Nissa at all. Neither could I get this from family, if you recall, after I lost my Mum and brother. No matter the loss, it's the same, sad story, from all sides. Is it any wonder I'm not only angry, but panicking? If this loss, the self-admittedly worst one for me yet, can't elicit any of the best anyone has to offer...if no one can come through for me even in this....when WILL they? When WILL I warrant such extra effort, if not now?? Judging from so many of the stories of even spousal loss on this board, not even then, should that also happen in my life. A future like that is simply too frightening to even ponder!

I've also made a pre-Christmas appointment with my former therapist, in hopes that she might be more useful than the one I've been seeing of late. I'd also like to hear what she has to say about having taken some of her suggestions yet not gotten the results she'd hoped for. Perhaps she can shed some further light on this.

While I can distance myself even further than I already have through my life, that doesn't really solve my basic problem...unless I learn to LIKE the idea of being a real hermit. So I think what I REALLY need is a way to find kindred spirits locally. A Guidebook for sourcing out like-minded people, that doesn't require one to jump through too many hoops of fire first, preferably! I just feel like I'm spinning my wheels and getting nowhere, even though I know alot of the steps to take and try what I can to get my needs met. I can and do sometimes spell it out in detail for people, but no one's really listening. It's getting far too exhausting to keep trying. And I'm not sure of this, but if you were suggesting that I might try to set up something myself like what Kara did?....I don't think I have that kind of energy or hope now.

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I think what I REALLY need is a way to find kindred spirits locally. A Guidebook for sourcing out like-minded people . . . And I'm not sure of this, but if you were suggesting that I might try to set up something myself like what Kara did?....I don't think I have that kind of energy or hope now.

Maylissa, dear ~

I agree completely with your statement about needing to find kindred spirits. I also recognize that your energy is very low and you’re feeling quite hopeless right now. Given the fact that we’re in the midst of the holiday season, I know that this may not be the best time for you to be thinking, “Where do I go from here?” (You may be interested in reading the article I posted in my message to Starkiss earlier today: When There Is No Jingle in the Bells.) But by now I also know you well enough to recognize your many talents and skills. I have too much faith in you to believe that you will stay forever in this place of misery and despair and hopelessness, and I know the day will come when you’ll feel more ready to think about moving forward in your life.

Clearly you’re an animal lover. Clearly you know a great deal about homeopathic medicine, both for people and for animals, and you care passionately about it. Clearly you understand the normal grief process, and repeatedly have demonstrated to all of us that you have a real gift for reaching out to others who are in mourning. These interests, talents and skills are the strengths that will become the foundation for your “new normal,” Maylissa, but only when you feel ready to tap into them and decide what you want to do with them. In the meantime, as Doug Manning says, give yourself permission to grieve, “for as long as it takes in any way that works . . . permission to do what you can do . . . permission to change traditions . . . permission to be where you need to be . . . permission to be with the ones who bring peace and comfort . . . When there is no jingle in the bells, don’t try to shake them until the jingle returns.”

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Dear Marty,

I'm so glad you directed me to that article, as I found it was another one of those 'empathetic ears' and 'understanding hearts' types of articles for this wretched season. I even had my H pass it along to his ex-coworker who'd lost her dad last year and she appreciated it, too. Now we may even get a visit from her over the holidays, which would probably do both her and I some good. It's ALWAYS good to get validation, especially in print, for 'bucking the system', when outside forces are trying to make you conform to the status quo. In light of this, and my terrible cold, I declined that last party, and am SO glad we stayed home instead, (I'll get my books some other time), especially given that the hostess didn't offer any understanding words for Christmas for me this year, when we informed her we wouldn't be coming. I certainly don't need even one more STRAW of that nonsense to 'break my back'!

Although I can't really concentrate on the idea right now, I am getting some fuzzy ideas for what my focuses will be in the future. Maybe I'll even end up starting my own, local animal loss support group, or resource, as part of that vague picture...with advice on helping aids for people and remaining animals. Maybe it'll be one of those stories where the lack someone found in their own support system during a loss leads to a development that helps to fill in some of the gaps that made loss worse. (if you or anyone else happen to have any thoughts or further ideas on this, please feel free to run them by me for grist for the mill!)

And thank you, Marty, for holding your confidence of me safely in your heart for now, where it can't be so easily 'torn apart' by my own current mental and emotional state...just like that saying I'd mentioned; "...to make a man, is to think him so..." I know I need people like you rooting for me on the sidelines. ;)

My previous therapist has already given me some 'homework' for the future...doing something rather more 'tactile' than mucking about with electronic photos, in memory and honour of Nissa. I see the wisdom in that, but it's so far just feeling like yet another project to add to my already huge list that I'm getting nowhere on as yet. (we did get permission from my in-laws to be very late with their gift; not 'til the NY now) She was pleased to hear of the plans I set into motion for mine and my H's small gettaway over the holidays and added a couple of small suggestions for doing myself a favour while we're away, which I've now acted on and included in the plans (cuz they were only small things). I only hope they work as intended, as I'm now finding the closer we get to our time away, the more I'm feeling pressure to 'enjoy' this time as exclusively mine...when, as of today, I'm still totally focused on Nissa and my grief. I can't just "turn off" being and thinking like the mom I've been for almost 20 years, and I truly wish everyone (even my therapist!) could not only understand, but accept that for what it is. I'm sure you know how it goes...when you tell someone they SHOULD do anything, they often end up resisting the very thing you 'insisted' they do! (DON'T think about elephants...) Besides, once a mom, always a mom. So I can only play it by ear, one moment at a time and hope for the best.

You know, I was just saying the other day that I truly believe that IF society really gave us all true and sincere 'permission' to grieve as loudly and long as we really want, that alone would likely allow our grief to process more quickly and smoothly (as smoothly as grief can ever be, that is). If we didn't have to spend copious amounts of energy fighting the currents of opposition, I'm pretty sure we'd all heal alot sooner than we do otherwise.

I and other animal lovers/grievers are doing a candlelight memorial service spanning across North America and parts of Europe tonight, at a synchronized time (this took shape on that animal-dedicated board I also utilize) and I know it's going to be very hard...I'm already panicking about how I'll be feeling today, AND tomorrow...the most dreaded day. We're 'supposed' to include some thoughts and positive feelings about the GOOD memories we have about our furbabies, but I suspect all I'll be doing is bawling...even that's too much pressure for me. It's strange...I don't normally have such resistance to feeling as badly as I might, so I think I'm still very frightened to feel the enormity of the sorrow I have over my Nis'...and all this opposition to what's perfectly normal just hasn't helped the situation. Maybe the 2 songs I plan on playing as part of this ceremony will remedy all that and the dam will be broken once again.

Thank you for being one of those soft places to fall, Marty....I really needed that!

Edited by Maylissa
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