9 January

The Awful Beauty Of Grief

by Jon Katz
The Awful Beauty Of Grief
The Awful Beauty Of Grief

It is easy enough in our world to be reminded of what divides us – just look at their news every day, it is a gift to reminded of what connects and unites us. We humans are a complex and difficult species, we argue, compete, even kill one another. But whatever our differences, we will all come to know death and loss in one form or another.

Grief is a gift because it reminds me of what we share, what it means to be a human being. When I lose something I love, I am suddenly connected to every human being on the planet, and connection is the universal want of the human being.

In grief, there is no “left” and no “right,” no righteous cable commentators, no pundits and ideological warriors, no factions or murderous fanatics and zealots, no difference of opinion. There is an awful beauty and truth about death, it exists beyond the quarrels and divisions of human beings.

Grief speaks with a clarity and power that is enveloping and all encompassing.

And here is the other thing I have learned about grief in my frequent encounters with it: everyone knows it, has felt it or fears it, has or will experience it. Everyone reading this has lost something dear – a mother, a father, a brother or sister or friend, a dog or cat or  horse or donkey. It is selfish for anyone to think of grief as theirs alone, grief echoes through the hearts and souls of every person in the world. It brings us together as no politician or ideology can.

Grief cannot be possessed, it is not something that belongs to one person, it is at the soul of the universal human experience. I also know that when an animal dies, it touches people in a particular way, perhaps because they cannot speak to us, and it is so simple to project our deepest and most powerful longings and hurts onto them. Because we see them as pure and unconditionally loving, they can become a well without bottom in which to pour the pain and losses of our lives. That is something to be careful about, a place I do not wish to go.

Everyone reading this has suffered as much as I have or more. We all know loss.  We can, as it happens, feel for one another, understand one another, unite with one another. Animals can do that, sometimes even more than people. So many of you have lived with Lenore, grown up with her, shared her voracious appetite for love. She is your loss as well as mine, I can feel it in the thousands of messages pouring in from everywhere. She is a reflection of your love and your loss.

Animals are not people, their deaths are not the same. I do not see the death of an animal as a tragedy, but as a loss, a passage. Grief is a process, it goes its own way, and in its own time.  I believe grief is a gift, it reminds us again and again of what it means to be a human being. Lenore, then, joins the wondrous galaxy of animals who helped me along my hero journey, who marked the passages of my life.

Perspective is often the orphan child of grief, and perspective is healing and grounding. But grief, like death, gives me hope and joy, not just sadness and loss. Grief persuades me that we are not billions of different things, but in so many ways, we are one thing, the same thing, no matter  how great the pressures to divide us, there are places where we come instantly and instinctively – and quite powerfully – together,  places where nothing can really ever separate us. There is an awful beauty in that, a precious legacy for any creature, animal or human, whose purpose is love.

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Connie Brooks of Battenkill Books has asked if I am comfortable signing and personalizing copies of the books written about Lenore. I said of course I am, it is a wonderful tribute to her. There is on adult book that features here, “Izzy & Lenore,” and two children’s books, “The Dogs Of Bedlam Farm,” and “Lenore Finds A Friend.” If you are interested in that, please call the bookstore at 518 677-2515 or contact them through their website. They take Paypal and ship anywhere in the world.

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