About Grieving and Grief

My first experience grieving, newly sober, was our 10 year old rescue dog. She became suddenly ill and we had to have her euthanized at an emergency veterinary office. I held her as she died. I didn’t want to drink alcohol, but I thought that no one would blame me if I did. I did not. Since then, two more dogs and two cats have died in my arms. I struggled for several years after my father died because of unresolved childhood pain. I’ve since created a softer place for his memory to live. Our oldest daughter, sweet, sweet Sarah Jane, died an agonizing death, for her, and for those that loved her, from a rare form of breast cancer at 29 years old. Eight years later, we are still grieving and healing, jolted by each birthday gone and each holiday since. In recovery, we bear witness to those that die from our shared disease, in spite of all that those that love them try to do. Grief seems an especially painfully protracted loss for me because of the permanence. Today sober I can feel and love as I never could before.

I

Looking at photos
Pictures on our wall
Dogs and cats now gone
Each has their place
And space in my heart
And stories sad and sweet
The first the sweet one
Our unadoptable shy girl
That taught us how to love
Our big grey boy
More dog than cat
Though cat he was
Our smiling blue dog
Loved to play more than eat
Bouncing and jumping to the last
The old guy that passed through
For only a while and was always sad
We gave him what we could
That little sweet girl that you brought home one day
A rescue that came and went ever so fast
And stole our hearts in her brief time
And now there are four two dogs two cats
Puppies and kittens once upon a time
Each reminding to love for life is too short some times

II

I returned to the river of the times of my life
I thought of my father and I cried
I cried for I could not remember the color of his eyes
I tried and I tried to conjure his memory fading to the past
Dissolved in the river of time
So I sat by my river and I cried

III

I remember the day after
The day after when
Everything was numb
Reality inescapable
A nightmare we knew
Would never end
But that was then
Today just like all those before
A new day dawns
And amongst the residue of pain
Life emerged anew
What today holds I cannot say
And therein may be what some call grace

IV

A friend died the other day
Alone his body cold
Not found for days
I saw his struggle
Sometimes near
Sometimes far
But I recognized it
For it looked so much
Like my own
I’m here and he’s not
The differences between
Him and me who knows
I only know that I recognized
The look in his eyes
For I saw the same eyes
Once upon a time
In a dirty mirror
On a bathroom wall

About the Author

Robert B is sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.

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