Daily Step – It’s okay to let joy and grief be housed together.


Joy and grief, housed together in one body.

Have you ever felt both at the same time?

Have you let the joy in when the grief threatens to overtake you.

We currently have two dogs in our house. Margaretta, a long-haired miniature dachshund, who is around 20 years old and Riley, a giant lab mix rescue, who is only 4-5 months old.

What a pair these two make!

Retta has been alone since her long time companion Whooley died last September.

The first couple days in his new home, Riley tried to make Retta his playmate. He tried to play rough as puppies do. Maybe because of the repeated “Nos!” he received or her eventual intense growl of “get away from me kid!”, he stopped trying to play rough with her.

Now, however, every once in awhile, I’ll catch him lying down next to her or giving her a small nudge in the morning to say “hey buddy, we dogs have to stick together!”

It’s interesting to watch these two – one dog at the end of her life and one dog just starting his. 

A couple nights ago, we started gently reminding the boys of her age. We told them that dogs who live this long are pretty rare and special. We wanted to prepare them for what might lie ahead.

My oldest son loves animals fiercely, and so he was devastated to think that he might one day lose Retta. I could see it in every muscle of his body, the grief of what was not yet lost.

In that same little body, however, joy couldn’t help but creep in as he dashed away to avoid the big tongue of Riley coming straight for his face.

Isn’t it an amazing that two such contrasting emotions can live so completely in one body at the same time?

I think sometimes we want to leave enough space for grief to roam. It feels guilt-inducing to have joy present too.

It feels wrong to smile through the tears.

But maybe that’s the mark of a person fully alive.

So don’t fight it.

Let the joy and the grief in.

Oh what a time they’ll have.

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