The last month or so has been particularly tough for my family. About 5 weeks ago, my last grandfather passed away, and yesterday, the second dog I ever had passed away. I've unfortunately had a lot of opportunity to think about life and mortality and struggle with the meaning of loss.
The subject of loss I've heard is written about extensively, but luckily I have never really had a large need or motivation to study it. I find myself wondering now what others feel like, what I should feel like, and methods for coping. How quickly should one go on with one's life? Is it fair to be happy when someone else cannot?
I've come to realize that I'm curious about the process of mourning and want to learn more about it. I'm also curious about how to best deal with loss and what it means to people as a community. I've seen that loss can bring people together and bring them closer, and it is sad that it sometimes requires loss to do that. But perhaps that is something good that the lost soul leaves to those who outlive him or her.
I've also realized that dealing with loss is really personal. Though I'm curious how others feel and what they do, I'm happy with myself and the feelings I've had. I try to live my life in a way where if I or someone I love is gone the next day, I have minimal regrets. Therefore, I speak to every single person that's important in my life every day and see everyone in my family at least weekly. This might be my cultural upbringing and family norms, and I know it can seem strange to people raised differently than I was (or whose families live far away). But for me it feels natural and normal, and I'm happy about that.
In addition to being close to the people I love when they're alive, when they're sick, I try to pray for them. And when they leave my life, I've tried to think about them in a positive light, to imagine they're in a better place, and most importantly to remember them for how happy they made me feel.
To that end, I wanted to make a small tribute in this blog post to the memory of my grandfather and my dog. Below is a small description of each, including a brief glimpse into what they were all about, to both help me remember them in the future and to honor them in some small way.
My grandfather Izyaslav (leftmost in the photo) was born in Chernivtsi, a small town in Ukraine. When he was a young boy, World War II broke out, and he was separated from his family for several years. He had to completely fend for himself as he journeyed alone and worked to reunite with his family. He was an engineer by training and handy with hands, working on cars and in industrial settings throughout his life. He was very proud of his son (my dad in the middle of the photo) for becoming a doctor and being first in his class, and always stressed the importance of hard work and being a good example to others. He always told me stories and explicitly tried to impart his wisdom on me whenever we were together, but he was also always curious about my life and wanted to hear everything about it. His dream was to dance at my wedding one day, and his dream came true just over one year before he passed away.
Favorite things in life
I miss him very much, and he is in my thoughts everyday. I know that he is no longer suffering and sick, and I know he watches over me always.
We rescued my dog Marcello when I was in college, right after my first dog Mario died. These are the only two dogs I've ever had, and my family has always rescued Neapolitan Mastiffs. We love the breed, and I've been lucky to read about their unique history in several Italian and English books that I've collected over the years. Marcello was sick throughout his life with many mild/topical issues, and he began life very anxious around people and somewhat aggressive. However, the love our family gave him quickly brought him peace of heart, and he became an extremely loyal, protective, and loving member of our family. To me, he was like a brother or a friend; we always loved to play together outside and go for walks, and I missed him dearly when I moved out and could only visit him once a week to brush his teeth.
Favorite things in life
I miss Marcello very much, and he is in my thoughts everyday. I know that he is no longer suffering and sick, and I know he is sunbathing and playing with Mario in a better place as well.