3 Ways to Deal with Grief – Cats, Carpet, and Cutler

The divorce isn’t going well.  I have a long way to go in the grieving growing process, but I’m attempting to focus on the good.  In that vein, I’d like to share the three best ways in which I have processed, handled, and worked through my grief so far.  (Aside from prayer, which is my constant resource and comfort.)

  1. Cats – Within an hour of picking me up from the airport, my dad offered me some of the best advice he’s ever given me: “Be a cat,” he repeated a few times. And I sort of laughed and thanked him and thought, “Huh??” I mean, my parents have seven cats (no joke), so I knew that I would be surrounded by cat therapy every second I was at my parents’ house.  And I have been – Liesl helps me get ready at the sink in the morning, Bobby rolls over and requests huge tummy rubs before I go to bed, Hallie is “helping” me with my puzzle, Jesse is my shadow pretty much all the rest of the time with a purr like a diesel engine, and Sassy sleeps at my feet all night long.  And up at my sister’s house, apparently their two standoffish cats love me, too, funnily enough.  But my dad explained what he meant by “Be a cat” a little later:

    “Cats never think about the past or the future.  They are simply in the present.  Be a cat.”

    Bobby, the most adorable hug bug ever.
    Bobby, the most adorable hug bug ever.
    From left, Liesl, Jesse, and JoJo. I'd like to be a cat like Jesse!
    From left, Liesl, Jesse, and JoJo.  I think I’d like to be Jesse.

    It’s been unbelievably helpful.  Because the hardest part of grief has been dealing with memories of the past and my fears of the future.  Neither of which are valuable.  So I try to stick to what is going on right now, this minute, and not allow myself to stray anywhere else.  (Real talk: it’s really hard.)

  2. Manual Labor – Last week, I ripped up the carpet (and carpet pad) in my sister’s new house. I joked that it would be like therapy, but it turned out the joke was on me – I felt remarkably calmer after the physical labor. I’m not a violent person in any way, but ripping up and slashing open wall-to-wall carpeting was extremely satisfying.  Also throwing it.  Also kicking it down the stairs.  And the best part is, I was being helpful!  I had similar satisfaction in slicing vegetables for chili and in mowing my parents’ lawn.  I’m not sure what other delightful opportunities for manual labor are going to pop up in my future, but I await them gleefully.
  3. Hiking – I joked to a friend that I was heading home to “cry, hike, and heal,” and I wasn’t really joking. As I’ve previously blogged, hiking is a passion of mine. The smell of the trees, the physical exertion, the views at the top that remind you that the world is far bigger than you think and that whatever you’re dealing with will pass…it’s heaven on earth.  The first few days I was home, I mostly hiked with my sister.  She was amazing at letting me talk and cry and yell and snark and pray through it all, while our feet keep pounding through prairie grass and pinecones.  I’ve also explored trails on my own – some being a bit more than I bargained for!  Following are some shots from my recent hike up Mt. Muscoco in Colorado Springs.  “I will lift up mine eyes to the hills, from whence cometh my help.”  Never have I been so grateful for my home state of Colorado.
The path at times - slippery dirt and large precipices! (But really quite safe.)
The path at times – slippery dirt and large precipices! (But really quite safe.)
Inspirational quote of the week: "Between every two pines is a doorway in a new world." Really holding to that.
Inspirational quote of the divorce: “Between every two pines is a doorway in a new world.” Really holding to that.
A panoramic view from the top of Mount Cutler, onto Colorado Springs. It is breathtaking!
A panoramic view from the top of Mount Cutler, onto Colorado Springs. It is breathtaking!
The path up Mount Muscoco sometimes felt like Lord of the Rings to me!
The path up Mount Muscoco sometimes felt like Lord of the Rings…
View northwest from near the top of Muscoco
View northwest from near the top of Muscoco
Looking back at Mount Cutler and the Broadmoor from near the top of Mount Muscoco
Looking back at Mount Cutler and the Broadmoor Hotel from near the top of Mount Muscoco
The view towards Cheyenne Mountain (south) from the summit of Muscoco. The sun came out at the perfect moment! If you zoom in, you can see the antenna farm at the top of the mountains in the distance.
The view towards Cheyenne Mountain (south) from the summit of Muscoco. The sun came out at the perfect moment! If you zoom in, you can see the antenna farm at the top of the mountains in the distance.

At any rate, God is guiding me right now, and I know that this whole experience will bring blessing.  All I have to do is stay in the present moment.  Even if it hurts, the rainstorm will pass through; it cannot last, and the world will be greener for the rain.  It’s a constant battle to focus on being grateful for everything good at present; but there’s a lot on that list.

Any other recommendations for getting through a divorce?  Or any grief, really?

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