I want to apologize to anyone whose grief I did not take seriously. Or did not understand. Or urged you to get over quickly. Or didn't make time for.
I have a deep regret along these lines that stems from my freshman year in college. The "surrogate" mother of Figaro was my college roommate Jyll. Many years before the white cat came to be, Jyll and I were both crammed in a 70 sq. foot room, and deep in challenging relationships.
I was involved with a guy who ran so hot and cold with his feelings and could be set off into a defensive rage so easily that I turned myself into a creature of anxiety, working very hard to be the kind of girl he wouldn't leave (I was only 18!). Jyll was involved with a guy who suffered from depression among other things. And one cold night, he tried to kill himself. It was unsuccessful, but when Jyll learned about the attempt, she was devastated and at that moment more than any other, she needed a friend.
But I was too much of a mess around my relationship--afraid of the silence he was so good at giving me--so I went to him, instead of her. I turned in the wrong direction, and I regret it.
I also did not grasp my mother's pain when she lost her 17 year old dog, Dylan, often referred to as "my brother."
Perhaps the only person I can comfortably say I stood present for during his grief, was my husband, when his father passed. Nothing has ever looked more painful from the outside.
I want to remind people: grief is grief. Animal, vegetable or human. I know people who have cried over a dead plant. Don't rush people through it. Don't point the way to happiness. Encourage them to feel it--so it passes through them. The happy memories, and the good feelings, return when there's room to do so.
Someday you'll need somebody to choose not to turn away from you.