When Grief Gives Way to New Love

Tears for my goldfish led to a new puppy.

BY: Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway


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On a Friday morning, after the family had gone to work and school, I grabbed my clergy stole, and took an old spoon, a pair of latex surgical gloves, and the stiff little fish bodies and dug a deep hole in the earth near an old tree. Something told me to dig deep, deep, deep. I remember thinking, why am I using a spoon and not a shovel? But I just kept spooning my way about two feet under. I lay them into their grave and prayed. And I cried. I cried and prayed, so loud, that I must have looked like a crazy woman out in the backyard.

The grief was so intense. It brought forth all the grief I had ever felt. They were just goldfish, but to me they were family. All weekend I felt the sadness over me like a pall. The tears and sorrow would grab me any time. Even though we’d been looking for a doggie for Alexander, I was in no mood to look at other animals. Yet, somehow we ended up at a shelter and within moments, Kismet Brockway Fuhrman walked—and licked—her way into our lives and by that night, into our home.

No one was more shocked than I that the dog we were meant to have would show up just two days after (so tearfully) burying our fish. I was awed at how I knew to dig the hole so deep, so that no animal could get to them in the back yard. Even though it seemed “too soon” to get another pet, my intuition was moving me in another direction. I have no doubt that we were supposed to meet Kismet on that day. I think I grieved so hard for my fish because my soul was cramming three to six months of grieving into 48 hours.

There is a belief held by many that we must grieve for a long time in order to move on. But it may not be true for everyone. Some people are capable of loving and caring for a new pet almost immediately. I was surprised to find that I was one of them. The grief was soon absorbed into the amazing amount of effort, dedication, and work it took to train and care for a puppy.

“Many people worry that getting another pet too soon after losing the one they loved so much is an act of disloyalty to the one who died—but like everything else in grief, that is a very individual matter and varies widely from one person to the next,” says grief counselor Marty Tousley. She points out that there are some people who simply have enough love to go around. Some people need a longer time to grieve and heal, and that should be honored as well. “Then there are some people who discover that it’s not so much that they go looking for another animal, but another animal just seems to find them,” she says.

When the time is right for you, you’ll know.


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