relationships & love

    5 Coping Mechanisms for Managing Loss (or; Grief’s a Bitch)

    by Bridget — April 2, 2021
    Jessie and Bridget at the World Record Dog Training Day

    Life during Covid-19 really sucks especially if you loose a loved one. Here are a few helpful ways for managing loss in these difficult times.


    March 31st marks exactly one month since I lost my beautiful husky, Jessie. Ever since, we’ve been discovering ways of managing loss. We only just celebrated her 13 year adoptaversary on Valentine’s Day (which also happened to be Lunar New Year this year). She was 14, almost 15 and she lived a good life as the princess of Kennedy Town. She was strong, bossy, resilient, and friendly to people – especially when you had treats! We’ve been through a heck of a lot together over the years. And then in December, we got bad news that she had a mass on her liver that showed up on an ultrasound. So I suddenly stepped up as her palliative care nurse.

    Now that she’s gone, there’s a gaping void in the house that used to be filled up by her presence and an even larger hole in our hearts. We miss her so very much. Managing the grief is arduous and even sometimes surprising. It has a way of showing up when you least expect it, or keeping you up at night for no good reason whatsoever.

    Managing the loss of a pet a card with a poem

    Three weeks after Jessie’s passing, a card showed up from her internal specialist at CityU VMC. It was something unexpectedly sweet and probably the most expensive card I’ve ever bought, LOL! You wouldn’t believe how much money I gave that clinic over the years for Jessie’s care. It is however, really thoughtful and it reminds us that she was loved by many. It’s the same doctor who told us about her liver mass. The last time Jessie and I saw Dr. Johnathan he said, “Jessie is a model husky. I wish I could take a video and show it to the other huskies and tell them, act like this!” Here’s the card, signed by his team and perhaps some others around the hospital, but it’s hard to read all of the signatures – they are doctor types after all, haha!

    Managing the loss of a pet, the inside of the card from the vet with signatures and drawings

    Sadly a couple of weeks ago, we also lost an old sailing friend of ours and a former colleague of my husband’s. We’re waiting for info about funeral arrangements or if there even can be one in these difficult times. Yeah, March sucked.

    Here’s something amazing… while I was finishing off writing this my Hong Kong BFF went into labour! So March may have been about death but April is already off to a good start with the beginning of a new little life. I’m so excited!

    I know many people are experiencing grief these days. Covid-9 has stirred up all kinds of emotions, and has brought isolation, and even death. I hope this can remind you that you’re not alone.

    My Coping Mechanisms for Managing Loss:

    Celebrate Life

    • First we posted on social media so our friends would know that she passed (also that way there are a lot less people to tell personally. It’s hard to do at first but it gets easier).
    • We’ve been sharing Jessie stories with everyone and vice versa.
    • Celebrating life includes any type of after arrangements you want to make like funerals, memorials, or burials.
    • Treasure those memories: like keeping some of their favourite things, getting keepsakes made, or getting a portrait done, etc.
    • Don’t forget to celebrate that you are alive. Death often reminds people to live life to the fullest and for good reason. Don’t waste what you have left.
    • My Pomeranian got an upgrade to ‘emotional support dog’ and I’m giving her extra squeezes.

    Friends Make Everything Better

    • We were overwhelmed by our friend’s responses on social media, I’m quite certain it made my heart grow a few sizes. It really meant a lot that our friends took the time to share their support for us, thanks so much!
    • Get on the phone or video chatting. Don’t wait for people to call you, if you need someone contact them!
    • Meet for lunch (or whatever covid restrictions allow).
    • Trade stories about loss.
    • Some of our clever friends brought us yummy goodies for us to eat – so thoughtful and definitely appreciated.

    Seek Advice & Guidance

    • I wrote to one of my favourite animal nutritionists, Ali on the Padfoot Poms, Poodles, & Pals Facebook Group. Ali and her partner have a lot of dogs, so it made me think she must have some good advice about managing loss. She did, plus she was sweet enough to make a video reply for me, and I’ve included some of that great advice here.
    • Some other people in that group had kind sentiments and good advice as well, like journaling your feelings.
    • Research websites on grief, such as https://healgrief.org/understanding-grief/
    • Look out for quotes about loss and grief. These particular quotes about grief found me a few weeks before Jessie’s passing:

    “Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of our eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

    Jamie Anderson

    “But what is grief, if not love persevering?”  

    Vision, in WandaVision

    Meditate

    • Meditation has helped me a lot in the past when I’m stressed. I’m an avid fan of Deepak Chopra’s Sanskrit mantra meditations. Right now I’m working through the 21 Day Meditation: Getting Unstuck. It seems like the perfect prescription for life right now.
    • It also brought me this little wisdom nugget “everything that is happening to you is also happening for you.” So I’ve been looking for bigger meaning and using this a way to propel myself forward with my intentions and dreams.

    Be Nice to Yourself

    • give yourself time to grieve
    • do things that make you happy
    • practice forgiveness
    • let yourself procrastinate if you need to, I even procrastinated writing this piece.

    Bonus Tip: Clean & Organise

    • I always clean when I feel strong negative emotions like anger, frustration, sadness, grief. I’m also usually one of those people who likes the distraction of work. But thanks to the pandemic I don’t really have much of that at the moment so instead I’ve been rearranging my workspace. I’ve been clearing out physical clutter in my creative space as well as the mental burdens in my mind.
    Dog paw prints in a horizontal path

    I wish all of you a renewing April full of life and happiness! Please share your stories of your tips for managing loss in the comments. How do you handle grief? Someone might find some solace in it.

    Main image: Thanks to my hubby for taking that photo of Jessie and I on December 4th 2011 during the Guinness World Record for the World’s Largest Dog Obedience Class with SPCA. Looks like Spain beat our title a year later.