The Road to Farley

The Road to Farley

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How Do You Measure Grief?

Merriam Webster describes grief as deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement. And to be bereaved is to suffer the death of a loved one.

This week, I have been wondering if all grief is the same or if some grief is more poignant than others. As a nation, we mourn the deaths of 20 children and seven adults in the shooting rampage in Newtown, Connecticut. For the families who are burying their loved ones this week, particularly as the holidays approach, it seems that no loss could be worse.

Yesterday, I lost my beloved Sheltie, Bailey. She passed away while we were driving to Farley. Her death wasn't completely unexpected. She had just celebrated her 13th birthday the day before, and she had been battling heart disease for over six months. I dreaded the thought of losing her, but in my mind I always assumed she would get to a point where her quality of life had deteriorated, and I would have to make the painful choice to put her down. My sweet girl spared me that decision. She was sitting next to me in the front seat, as she had done hundreds of times before in the 11 years we were together. I knew I was losing her, but I was happy to be there with her, comforting her, talking to her, stroking her hair and rubbing her belly, just like I always did. She slipped away in a matter of minutes. I was devastated.

As I sat at home later watching TV, there were numerous updates on the latest with the Sandy Hook tragedy. While I was crying over the loss of my dog, families were burying their six and seven year olds. Did I have the right to really be that sad? I would tell myself no and shake myself out of it. But, later, when I would think of going home to an empty house, the tears would flow again.

Today, I found a little Christmas ornament that I bought last weekend. I had put it with some other items and totally forget about it. When I unwrapped it from the tissue paper, I remembered that I bought it "for Bailey." It was a little slate that read, "What part of woof didn't you understand?"

I'm still conflicted. Driving to Indiana today, I was listening to NPR when they carried coverage of President Obama's press conference appointing Joe Biden to a commission to identify ways to reduce gun violence and keep our citizens safe. I thought he delivered a very important message, especially when he recounted several additional deaths as a result of gun violence that have happened since last Friday.

I don't have any answers. Maybe there aren't necessarily different degrees of grief. Individually we all respond differently. I just know that I will miss my Bailey terribly. She was an awesome dog that was full of personality. This picture was taken less than two days before she died. I called it her birthday picture.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The World is a Mess...

The tragedy in Newtown, CT is just over 24 hours old and some are already using this horrific event to advance their personal causes. I read just a short time ago the names and ages of all the victims -- 20 of them were children ages 6 or 7. I cannot begin to imagine how frightened and confused those children must have been. 

I saw a post circulating on Facebook last night that said something like, "Dear God, Why do you allow so much violence in our schools? Signed a Concerned Student. Dear Concerned Student, I'm not allowed in schools." Come on... this tragedy has nothing to do with the presence or lack thereof of God in public schools. If you read and believe in the Bible, Joshua 1:5 states, "No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." That tells me that wherever I am, so is God. If you are a believer, I think it is safe to say that God was present at Sandy Hook Elementary yesterday and was with every school employee and child. 

There are a similar number of posts about stricter gun control laws and a ban on assault weapons as a way to prevent future tragedies of this nature. I am not a member of the NRA, I don't have a license to carry, and quite frankly, guns scare me. But, I have plenty of people in my family who are responsible gun owners. I don't think the presence of their guns necessarily makes me feel any safer, but I also don't believe that restricting their ability to purchase or carry guns will prevent any future events such as the shootings in Newtown. News reports indicate that the guns used by the shooter were legally purchased by his mother, who was a gun enthusiast. Throughout history, when laws have been enacted to prevent access to something,    criminal elements step in to meet the demand. It's really simple economics -- did anyone really stop drinking in during Prohibition? Have tougher drug laws stopped drug use. I am ready to stockpile incandescent lightbulbs if the government puts legislation in place to outlaw them in favor of fluorescent bulbs. 

The common thread in all of these mass shootings is mental illness. No one wants to have the tough conversations about how we treat mental illness and how mentally ill people are marginalized in our country. 


I tried to finish my Christmas shopping today. I made progress, but didn't finish. I don't get too excited about it. It always gets done one way or the other. I don't actually have that many presents to buy. My problem is that the first several outings each holiday season become shopping trips for me! 

While I was out today, I stopped at Petland in Iowa City to pick up some dog food and a birthday treat for Bailey. My girl is going to be 13 on Monday, December 17th. 

That old rule of thumb about 1 year of a dog's life being equal to 7 years of a human isn't quite accurate from my quick search on Google. That ratio apparently decreases as a dog ages. So, instead of being like 91, it appears that Bailey is more like 77 or so. I'll have to be careful, then, about calling her old because that would make her about the same age as my mother. 

But, back to my trip to Petland -- I got very annoyed when I was there. The place was packed with people swarming over the puppies for sale. Business appeared to be booming. It was all I could do to contain my irritation and not scream out "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? DO NOT SUPPORT THESE PUPPY MILL PROVIDERS! IF YOU MUST HAVE A PUPPY, FIND A REPUTABLE BREEDER. OTHERWISE, PLEASE GIVE A WAITING DOG IN A SHELTER OR RESCUE GROUP A HOME. 

Look at my sweet Bailey. She was rescued from a puppy mill, and I got her from a rescue group 11 years ago. You can find any breed of dog in a rescue or shelter. I think people who shop for a dog at a pet store are uninformed and lazy! And, that's all I'm going to say about that.