I am not known for being an overly emotional person. If you ask anyone (other than my husband) they will agree that I am pretty even-kelled. (My lucky husband on the other hand gets to see the good, bad, and ugly of my emotions.) I never cried in front of people and it was rare that people knew when I was upset, mad, or sad. That was until recently. With the passing of our pup Nittany so much has changed in our lives from our routine to our conversations to planning for the future. The one biggest thing that has changed for me personally is my ability to keep my shit together emotionally. I have found myself bursting in to tears at work when I look at a picture of Nittany, in the car when a song comes on the radio that Nittany and I used to do puppy dance party to, and everywhere in between when I remember something about Nittany. The tears are both happy and sad but they come so unexpectedly that I feel like a ticking time bomb.
Yesterday was my birthday and I was having a great day with friends. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with grief that I could not shake. I would just burst in to tears and feel so sad. At first I thought it was because I was growing another year older but age has never bothered me and I knew deep down that wasn’t the cause. When I really thought about it, and with something prodding from my husband, I realized my overwhelming sadness was a memory I had from a couple of months ago when I said “the only thing I want for my birthday is for Nittany to be there.” I think I said this when we first figured out what was going on with her health and she was still relatively healthy. When I remembered this statement on my birthday I was thrown into a tail spin. I felt so sad that Nittany wasn’t there and then I felt so guilty and angry for being selfish enough to wish she was here even knowing how sick she was at the end of her life.
Grief is such a weird thing. It comes out of no where. You are cruising along throughout the day, enjoying yourself, and there it is lurking around the corner. You feel like you are feeling better and making progress and then is just smacks you across the face and reminds you about whatever you are grieving. Time passes and you are starting to feel confident that the memories are only going to be warm and fuzzy and suddenly you are taken down to your knees with sadness and heartache. Even with the grief I know I am making progress forward but I was just so unprepared for how much it would hurt.
My running has been a huge area where I have been struggling lately (see sometimes the Jolly Runner talks about running). It started out being tough to run because Nittany wasn’t there to welcome my back, so I was avoiding runs during the week. I was still running on the weekend because that was a different routine where Nittany wasn’t as big of a part of my return home. Because I am in a training plan for my next half marathon in October my runs have been longer which give you a lot of time to think. I have grown to despise this time in my head. Eight miles of just being in your own head can be healing but it can also be painful. Running around town I see all types of dogs with their families and it is a reminder of what I’ve lost. During and after runs in the past I have experienced the normal “runners high,” feeling strong, happy, and confident. Lately the “runners high” has been overly emotional and while I feel more energetic I also seem to be sadder too. This time in my head and the sadness that follows makes me want to just take a break from running but I couldn’t even imagine what kind of emotional mess I would be in a cut out running all together.
People have given me great ideas on how to handle the loss of Nittany and I appreciate the ideas and words of encouragement but one thing I have learned is that everyone grieves differently and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. The only think I have learned for sure is that it’s good, and necessary, to grieve. If you try to keep all those feelings inside you might explode, but most importantly you are not letting yourself heal. I want to thank everyone who has been along with me on this strange journey and especially my husband for being my rock and walking this road of good grief with me. Thanks for listening to my ramblings and letting me grieve through my blog.