This past weekend, I spent 4 hours with Lulu, my loyal companion at the ER. She had vomited what looked and smelled like feces after 24 hours of discomfort.
By 1am, we ruled out any blockages in her colon. My intuition however, along with several from my woo tribe confirmed something still wasn’t right.
While at the ER, I did a life review with her. We went over milestones and times we’ve been there for each other. I gave her permission to go.
What I really wanted to do was control the outcome. Ha.
Human nature has us constantly looking for ways to try and control our destiny by focusing on choices that brings security and predictability.
The truth is, we can try and run, but we will never be able to avoid uncertainty. It is our fear that makes us afraid.
The idea that we cannot control death is just not a message people want to hear.
Fear of death has most Americans spending on average 15% of their income on medicine, while spending much less on effective, healthy, positive impacting measures like exercise, meditation, yoga, diet, to improve our life span.*
Lulu inspired me to take us down a road less travelled this week.
Below are five ways to have this uncertainty of WHEN that time will come to say goodbye, where she will need my help to transition to be more of an adventure vs. a curse.
Inspired by Pema Chodron and Stephen Levine’s brilliant writings, 5 ways to be uncomfortable in the face of uncertainty.
Get to know your fear well
-When I was frustrated, reduced to tears by the service we received in the ER, I also had a chance to check in with my ego.
Why was I frustrated? What are the stories I am telling myself at that moment? Why was I second guessing my intuition? What did I know for sure?
When we begin to see what is driving our fear, we can become more curious about what is going on. We can acknowledge what we are attracting and repelling. We become familiar with the stories we run to protect ourselves.
Staying in the middle and practice equanimity
Instead of running answers as black or white, we can practice staying in the middle, a place where we can observe our thoughts. Thoughts came up. Instead of running away or obsess about it, I let them sit.
I did what I needed to rule out bloat or bowel obstruction and chose to focus on just being present to what is.
I tried being curious. I drove to the grocery store afterwards and stood in line with my package of chicken breast and white rice I was going to cook for Lulu to calm her stomach.
I noticed I was the odd person out amidst lines of liquor and snack foods at 12:30 in the morning.:)
Think bigger than what is right in front of you
When we are in fear, in a panic about something or someone, we probably feel opposing forces. Either Attraction or Repel. If we are repulsed, chances are we feel anger, frustration, perhaps even indignation.
Instead, if in the moment, we can choose to sit with the energy, vs. reacting or repressing whatever that just came up, then we’ve just opened up the options available to us.
To be bigger than right or wrong. It reminds me of one of my favorite Rumi quotes “Beyond the field of rightdoing or wrongdoing, I’ll meet you there.” Vulnerability allows us to explore different options.
Pema talks about softening. When we are in that place, the 4 limitless qualities—love, compassion, joy and and equanimity evolves from being limited to limitless. Our protective fences come down when we are not trying to make ourselves right.
Work with rather than struggle against
My inspirational grad school teachers had a saying, “How you deal with the issue is the issue.” When the going gets hard, all of the experiences we have a hard time accepting, wanting appears, how we work through it is HUGE. Instead of beating yourself up, blaming yourself, shutting down a part of you, try to practice everything as working WITH rather than struggling against.
Related to number 1. Get to know your triggers and fears well, practice equanimity and loving kindness and compassion as you go through the mucks. Practice applying love to the places that hurt vs. resisting the parts of ourselves we don’t like.
From the heart. Always. Keep it open!
The tendency when grief strikes close to home is to close our heart as a way to protect ourselves. Instead, practice being open to all of our emotions, the good, bad, ugly. When we are open to what we are feeling, then we can be open to what the other person is feeling. With our eyes and minds open, we are more apt to see what is in the heart of others we come across. You can send love outwardly to anyone who needs it. By simply doing this, you’ve made the circle a little bigger, as you never know what the person you just loved up will do for another!
I was super frustrated with one of the emergency vet hospitals we stopped at. While I was waiting for the doctor, I could hear the vet techs talking about my “diagnosis” in the backroom, snickering at how did I know it was a possible bowel obstruction, or that something may be twisted? The attending vet saw examined Lulu for about 30 seconds, said she was “tense” and prescribed a list of tests that would range from mid 3-digits into the thousands.
Intuitively, I felt this wasn’t the place for us and we left the exam room. I was exhausted, frustrated but was so proud of myself for not reacting. At the front desk, I told the clerk why I wasn’t comfortable with what had just taken place, and stayed in the middle as much as I could while saying it. While their story line and mine were very different, I knew that on a bigger note, we are actually not that different. We both loved animals. We both were doing what we felt was the correct thing. We both experienced discomfort with our emotions.
That said, I am grateful our old gal seems to be feeling a bit better this week. I have been giving her healing sessions and loving her up!
Thank you for being here and reading. It’s a pretty long post this week but an oh so important one.
I hope you’ve gotten some good nuggets out of it:) As always, take what resonates an leave the rest.
I would love to hear examples of any uncertainty in your life you can work with below.
*Fear of death and muddled thinking by Robin Hanson. http://hanson.gmu.edu/feardie.pdf