I’ve always had a relatively sunny disposition; I try to stay calm, happy and stress-free, so when my dog passed away I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to handle the emotions I was experiencing. These were not emotions I was used to feeling: extreme sadness, guilt, heartbreak, loss, emptiness. Amongst the grief I was feeling about losing my best friend, I was also trying to understand why I was feeling those particular emotions. I won’t go into too much details about the different stages I went (and am still going) through because everyone truly does grieve differently but I do want to say that I can wholeheartedly say I understand how easy it is to stay in a negative headspace. I understand how hard it is to get out of bed when you woke up in tears. I understand how it seems impossible to reply to messages or engage in conversation because the constant emotions running through your body, the heartbreaking memories and the never-ending tears take every ounce of your energy. SO I want you to know that you are not alone. And it is ok to not be ok.
When my pup first came down unwell whenever someone would ask me how I was (just in general conversation) I would say ‘good thanks’. I realised that I say this regardless of how I am actually feeling so even though I could feel my world was slowly turning upside down, I inadvertently lied and said I was good. You don’t have to be ‘good’ all the time. People who ask you how you are genuinely want to know how you are – you don’t have to pretend.
There are a few things I’ve learnt about how I deal with grief and being in a negative headspace so I want to share them with you in the hope that this gives you help with whatever your battling.
Share your story. I know this is super scary, trust me, it took every fibre of my being to post online what I was going through (which seems ridiculous because I have this blog where I share things) but telling people what was happening meant they would know how I was feeling. I’m an incredibly private person when it relates to my emotions and I usually deal with things internally but I had to ask for help (both mentally and financially) and it was the single most important thing I done. I had family, friends and complete strangers reach out to me and support me. I can’t tell you how it felt to check social media and read hundreds (I’m not kidding, hundreds) of messages of support. I promise you, you will experience the same support because there are other people out there experiencing the same thing you are and you are not alone.
Spend time with your loved ones. I spent majority of every day at my parents’ house because being home without Dallas was unbearable. Being around people who I knew loved me, and who wanted to be there for me but also give me space was fundamental to my wellbeing. I could cry on mum’s (or Dads, my siblings, my friends) shoulder when I needed to or I could lay on the lounge and distract myself by binge watching Marlon or Friends on Netflix. They weren’t judging and they were happy to sit back and let me be me. Ask someone you trust if you can spend time with them, or if you get invites to spend time with someone, seriously consider it – it might be exactly what you need at that time.
Be alone. I’ve spoken about using a support network, but also remember to spend time alone to really allow yourself to grieve. This really will be a time to work out who you are and what your methods are for self-soothing. For me, I looked at pictures, or cuddled Dallas’s toys and just cried. But I was cautious about letting myself do this for too long because I knew, personally, it would be very hard to pick myself back up.
I’m not saying this is going to make you feel better because I’m not an expert, but I sincerely hope that it helps. And for anyone reading this who is in a pretty good headspace right now, or who hasn’t felt this way before, I’d like to share something with you. When I was at my lowest points, one of the best things that could happen to me was receiving a message from a family member, friend or stranger asking if I was ok or letting me know they were sending me strength and love. It hands down filled my heart with something pretty close to what left me when my dog died – love. So, even if you think the people around you are ok, just ask. Please, just ask.