The Power of Grief

Pharrell-Feb-4It may seem strange to have a menu page on our website dedicated to grief. I (Shannon) never realized just how powerful grief was until February 4, 2017. Grief exists, but for us, it has been a major catalyst, and frankly, has been a motivator, and also a weight that has caused depression, in which I have not experienced before. Grief has also been the alchemy in our lifestyle change and new journey of Arner Adventures, therefore, plays an important role.

In February, we lost Pharrell. Pharrell was, to me, our son. We do not have human children, so our furbabies are our children, in every sense of the word. I adopted Pharrell in 2002, just after graduating college. When we got married, we joined Gerry’s two cats, Wilson and Kiko, and my Pharrell. After we got married, Pharrell continued to be our son, but was most definitely his mama’s boy. We lost our cat, Kiko later, which was terrible for Gerry. The thought that we actually had to face our babies’ mortality was a huge threat. Pharrell began to get older, around 10 years old, we adopted Betty White. Betty was a rescue and we thought she would keep him youthful and wanting to play more, plus we wanted to give another pup the chance at life that our other pets had. Betty White and Pharrell had some rough patches as Betty White had some food and resource hoarding issues (she had starved and been emaciated as a pup) so we worked through that, and it worked. In 2016, we lost our Wilson, and the threat of Pharrell’s age bothered me terribly. This past February, despite him being almost 15, his immediate sickness and inevitable passing was devastating, immobilizing, and life changing for me, for us, for our family.

P-following-the-sun-768x580When I started this portion of our website, August 2017, I thought it would be a section that would be removed as the pain began to lessen. It has stayed since it still is something that has been a game-changer in this thing called life.

In the first year after the loss of Pharrell, I struggled with being the social butterfly I once was, and with engaging people who didn’t get it. That has somewhat become a little better, but life, and the way we appreciate it, has definitely improved. I always say that Pharrell gave me that gift. The light of the grief is also that I feel empowered to tell people no. When I don’t want to do something, I say no. I used to be the “yes girl”, spreading myself very thin. That is no longer an issue.

As 2018 barreled around the corner,  I began to try to find the goodness in such an awful situation for me. Another light in the loss, after submitting his obituary to our local newspaper, the story of Pharrell’s life went viral.  PupJournal featured our story, which hopefully will help to save other shelter pets’ lives, as well as show other pet parents that they are not alone in this grief that so many do not understand. We started receiving messages from other people who do get it. We have a network of people around us who have been through this, and understand the level of grief that comes from this loss. That, again, is a gift.

photo-20170519065129 (2)While I work every single day on gaining my sea legs, just surviving, I try to memorialize him in my life by staying strong. In 2017, my sister, Holly, went with me to get a cremation tattoo of his name on my arm. In case you are not familiar, a cremation tattoo is one in which ashes of a person or in my case, my Pharrell, is mixed into the ink. It is extremely powerful and allows me to feel more at one with my sweet boy, even though he isn’t here with me in the sense that he was- he is still with me.

So, grief is very powerful for me, for Gerry and I as a couple, and for Betty White as she lost her brother. While it is something we work on every single day, it also shines like an open window with the sun beaming inside, letting us know that we need to enjoy life while we have it. For that, I am thankful.

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