It has been a heartbreaking and grief-filled couple of weeks in my life. The day before my birthday, as I looked at my beautiful little elderly dog Joia, struggling to walk, not eating, and clearly not enjoying her life, I knew it was time. I had resisted for so long, but finally realised, I was being selfish and needed to think about her. I picked up my phone, called the mobile vet, and sobbing whilst talking, arranged for the visit to happen on my birthday. The next day, my darling Joia went peacefully to God whilst lying in my lap.

Almost 14 years earlier, my life was about to change for the better, forever. Laura, my wife at the time, called me to tell me she had a surprise. I was immediately worried! I was at home working on my business, trying hard to create some success and get out of a tricky financial situation, when the door opened, Laura came in and placed an 800g Maltese Shih Tzu pup in my lap. The timing was terrible, and Laura knew it, but the moment I laid eyes on this little girl, I was in love.

After a couple of days, our 8-week-old fluffy baby did not seem well. She was not eating, had blood in her poop, and so we took her to the vet to find that she had a disease that kills most pups called, Parvo. I was in no position to pay the thousands of dollars it would take to cure her, nor were there any guarantees that the treatment would work. Laura and I sat there, looking at each other and looking at this little pup who needed us, and there was no doubt in our minds. We had to save this little girl, our little girl. We found the money (as you always do when it’s important) and our little girl fought with all her might and got through a very rough beginning to her life.

She has been a blessing in my life that words cannot even come close to describing. She has helped me enjoy the simple things in life, live more in the moment, love unconditionally, and be grateful for what I have. She has been the one constant and saving grace through some incredibly traumatic events in my life, like the end of my marriage and the world going into lockdown due to COVID. I have always been able to count on her love, her joy to see me, and her affectionate company through some heart-breaking and lonely times.

I always knew it would be tough when it was her time to go. However, I had no idea it would be as hard as it has been. My heart broke the moment I made the decision, and I have been regularly sobbing since she departed. On Friday, it was triggered all over again when her ashes arrived, and as I sit here writing this blog, I am grieving hard. However, I want you to know that there is glory in my grieving. I want you to know that I am grateful for my grieving. I want you to know that the only reason I am hurting so much and grieving so hard is because I loved Joia so deeply that her absence is a massive hole in my life. I would not replace the time I had with her or the love I feel for her to avoid the pain I am experiencing right now. My pain is a reflection of that love.

Since her passing, I have spoken to many people who have been so beautiful with their sympathy, empathy, thoughts, love, and words of comfort. I have had many people share their own experiences and try to help me by giving advice about the best way to deal with my grief. The most common piece of advice I have been given is to keep myself busy and distracted from the pain. I have lots happening in my life at the moment, and I could very easily keep myself busy and distracted, but I don’t want to. Why? There is glory in my grief. My strong feelings are my way of staying connected to my girl. My grief is a reflection of my love for her. My heartbreak is an indication of what she meant to me and how grateful I was to have her in my life for the time I did.

My message this week is that grief, sadness, heartbreak, and pain is not always something to avoid, cover up, or distract yourself from. These are common human emotions and are what sets us, as humans, apart from all other living things. The capacity to love so deeply means that we are vulnerable. It means we cannot, and should not avoid losing those we love so dearly. It means there will be pain, but the glory of that pain is reflected in the love we had for what it was we lost. If you are going through any grief right now, find the glory, and know that without grief, there is no love.

In my podcast this week with Rhianne Miller called, Perfection; the perfect lie, Rhi challenges listeners to be real with who they are, what they feel, and who they are portraying themselves to be. Covering up, wearing masks, and suppressing emotion is the greatest mistake we can ever make in life. As you go about your life, expect heartbreak, grief, and loss. Don’t run from it or avoid it. Instead, find the glory in your grief and you will understand why you are feeling it, and what it represents for you. Without grief, there is no deep unconditional love. So, find the glory in grief today.