Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The other dog

"Peyton died."

That's how I found out about the neighbor's dog: Via text from Jim while I was in Michigan last weekend.


Apparently four weeks prior, the little guy's blood work came back just fine. Then Peyton stopped eating. And he went down hill quickly from there. Two weeks quickly.

So why am I writing about this now after being MIA - lost in the world of Oracle - for more months than I can recall?

Because I learned something from Peyton (something big) and writing about it will help me explain.
"He's just a dog."

You can't say that to me. So don't.

They're not people - I realize that - but 'just a dog' doesn't apply to these furry little friends we welcome into our lives.

You understand if you know a dog like Gromit. If you don't know, just stay quiet about it. Please.
As you might imagine, I struggled with how to respond to our neighbors' loss. I imagined what to say. But it was impossible, I always dissolved into tears. Not helpful. And so frustrating.
Maybe you know this already, if so, good on ya. I'm a slow learner but I've been noodling on this particular issue for a long time and Peyton finally helped me understand.
Here's the lesson: Part of being strong for other people is letting them feel their grief without making it about YOU. I can mourn Peyton without making it about me. Their sadness is more important than whatever I'm feeling and I need to be strong, especially around their children.

While I share in their sadness over the loss of Peyton, there is no way I can comprehend what they're feeling. And crying is not a helpful response. Being warm and supportive is. That's the lesson from Peyton.

Be strong for people who are experiencing pain. When you cry, it transfers the focus away from them and over to you. It is perhaps one of the most selfish things you can do in that situation.

That's what I learned from Peyton, the sweet fluffy neighbor dog who died way too early.
I am listening to: Hawaii 5-0, the TV show
I am reading: With reading glasses now, so irritating
And I am: A slow learner