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Accepting Grief and Owning Gratitude, It is A Wonderful Life

It isn’t easy. Loss is painful. It can feel like being handed a life sentence without parole. Pet loss grief especially comes to mind.

Culturally, we are ever so slowly migrating toward different ways of thinking. I have hoped to be a messenger of adopting a different mindset, one towards mindfulness and acceptance. It is a shift in our thinking.

As a pet loss bereavement counselor and coach, I often hear the sadness and anger of grieving pet parents, “If only I could bring him back. I should have done things differently; and one of the harshest of all, “I never want to go through this pain ever again!”

In my book, Tails of Unconditional Love, Your Journey to the Other Side of Pet Loss Grief, I share a classic movie reference that I like to use with my clients. It also happens to be my favorite holiday film, and well, one of my all-time favorites.

Taking away the struggles and pain of life would look a lot like George Bailey’s angelic intervention from the Frank Capra holiday classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. If you haven’t seen it, George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, is an all-around nice guy who sacrifices his dreams to help others. One Christmas Eve, he finds himself in a lot of hot water. He’s contemplating ending it all when Clarence, an angel-in-training, steps in to help. He listens as George rants about his litany of problems, then states that he wishes he’d never been born at all. Wish granted! George is given an amazing gift that night.

He is able to see all the ways he positively affected the world, and what things would be as if he had never been around. In the end (and I’m sorry to give it away if you haven’t seen it), George is grateful for everything he has, including the painful and disappointing times. Above all, it’s a movie about both acceptance and gratitude.

Now, stop for a moment and think, what would your life look like if your pet had never been born, never entered your life? What would you have missed? Take a moment and jot down the first 3-5 happy, humorous, and sentimental memories that come to mind. Please do this.

Now, let's discuss options, angelic intervention aside of course. You could opt to protect yourself from all this pain by obliterating these gems from your memory! Or, are you brave enough, courageous enough to face your grief head-on, and fight through the pain that comes with taking ownership of these beautiful memories for as long as you can remember? What’s it worth to you?

Gratitude for our own wonderful lives is where we need to be. This means accepting that you’ve “earned” your special pain, grief. You have built a life full of wonderful, loving experiences to look back on! Understanding that grief is a product of love, gratitude, and acceptance soon follows. This is a big step toward your healing.

I can help! Offering virtual grief counseling as well as life coaching, together we can achieve your goals. Contact me for more information:

Wishing you and yours a very happy, healthy, and healing new year!

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