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Procrastinating my pain…and guilt

I remember writing in the blog I did about Bonnie’s death that I knew it would potentially be easy to just drift away from the thought of her death an the feelings that accompany it. I wrote that, with the distance from her and not having her in our every day lives, it would be easy to forget rather than heal. But that I didn’t want that.

The last two weeks I’ve been really busy and had a particular big task that’s been taking my time up and stressing me out. And in that time I’ve barely thought about Bon, and barely felt (at least consciously) my feelings around her and her death.

Oooooo, what a reminder this is about what usually happens it grief! It can seem easier sometimes to not deal with the thing, whatever it is.

Easier to procrasinate and not touch the pain too much.

Easier to let it fade instead of heal it.

Just like it’s easier not to exercise. And it’s easier to eat crap instead of taking the time to prepare healthy food. And it’s easier to watch new episodes of Handmaid’s Tale and movies you’ve already seen instead of working on your book (what are you looking at me for?!).

Very often it’s so much easier not to do the important thing. But only in the short-term. In the long-term it’s usually not a better scenario at all.

Last night I re-watched the beautiful video of Bonnie that her old dog-walker made and, just like straight after her death, it made me cry again. Nothing’s changed about my feelings. It’s just been ‘easier’ not to go there. My daughter heard the song playing from her bath and called out “Mum, don’t watch it!”. (We had a chat afterwards about how important it is to feel my feelings, that it’s ok to cry, and the healing work I’ll do after).

So I’m coming consciously back to my work on Bonnie. So she doesn’t just get forgotten, pushed down in my memories, or become a source of numbness. None of these things are healing.

One of the first things I see when I look, is what is causing my pain. People usually just call it grief and don’t take the time to examine it. But ‘grief’ isn’t a feeling. It’s an experience made up of different parts. And the biggest for me that’s causing me the most pain right now….is guilt.



The guilt I feel that we left for 3 months….and never went back to Bonnie.

The guilt that I never tried harder to find her a real home (though she would’ve been just about bloody impossible to rehome – damn dog!)

The guilt knowing that, while she was in wonderful boarding places where she was safe, fed, walked, cared for, and felt content, that she wasn’t happy there.

The guilt that, though she loved the beach so, she hadn’t been there since we left almost 2 and a half years ago.

The guilt around the way she died and questions of what I could have done differently.

And…and this one is a biggie….the guilt of the relief. The weight that’s now off my shoulders. Truth be told, it felt like an impossible situation. I loved her so, but didn’t know what to do for her. Bringing her here was a huge, expensive process that I couldn’t do. And she would have been one of the harder dogs in Bali to rehome. If you’ve been to Bali, and especially in this time of horrific economic destruction, you know the dog situation is terrible. You could adopt a hundred friendly, easy dogs off the street any day of the week. And my girl was neither. I had pretty much resigned myself to keeping her in boarding for her whole life. It wasn’t a great situation and at times, though I loved her, I regretted the situation I was in. I felt stuck.

When I was told she was seriously sick, part of me thought that she may die, and realised the relief this would be.

Now I’ve done this work for many years now with many people. I’ve written about relief before and that, to some degree, it’s universal. And it’s often something my clients and I have to work hard on, as this one can get you right in the guts. And it can take some work to untangle. But despite all I know, I still felt (feel) guilty about the relief I feel. It’s good to admit to it. You hardly ever hear people do that honestly.

But I do feel relieved. For a very hard problem that I now don’t have. And I feel bad for thinking of my beautiful girl that way. But I won’t stay that way.

All of this stuff….I know how to work through it. And I’ll do that in the next couple of weeks. But first I wanted to share some of it honestly – the pre-healed grief – while it’s still happening. A real-life example if you like.

I usually don’t work with new clients till at least 6 months after the death in their life. One of the reasons is that it is so important to actually experience your experiences. To go through the shit – whatever that looks like. You shouldn’t just rush to fix or heal what’s going on so you don’t have to feel it. That can backfire. We are meant to experience things. To feel things. There is beauty and worth and so much to learn in the pain, not just the healing.