OK, I have to be honest with you. This was a tough post to write. But I wanted to be open and vulnerable with you. Here is a peek into a not-so-happy side of my daily happiness project.
When I set out to start my 365 day Happiness is project, I didn’t think too much about how it was going to go. I just wanted to start and see what happened, which is totally outside of my comfort zone. Generally, I’m a planner and a prefer-not-to-take-a-risk-er.
I didn’t know what I would do if I had days when I was overcome by sadness and grief. Could I find something to feel happy about then?
That day came unexpectedly in January when our dear kitty Lulu had complications from her diabetes and got really sick. She was suffering and we decided to put her to sleep a couple of days later. She was really loving and brave till the last moment, and it still makes me cry when I think about that day.
I had her for about 12 years since she was a tiny itty bitty kitten. I loved and adored cats ever since I was little, but my parents wouldn’t let me have cats. I daydreamed of having cats pretty much 24/7. So I was ecstatic when I got my own kitties as an adult. Lulu and her brother Shepherd, a.k.a. Sheppie, had been like my babies.
The connections you build with your animal friends are so special. It’s based on love and trust you develop through actions. There is no explaining your bad mood or tears. They don’t take it personally. They just want to love you and be loved. They had been there for me through many life changes, just purring away, beaming love rays at me.
It was the saddest day of my life. It hurt so bad. Worse than bad break-ups or losing some of my human family members (I’m just being real here). It felt like I had a giant kitty-shaped hole in my heart, and I didn’t know if it was going to heal. I could no longer feel the warmth of her fur or hear her soft purr as she slept.
Of course, I could’ve taken a break. That would’ve been totally OK. I thought about it and yet found myself drawing in my sketchbook that night, and the next day, and the day after that. I had never used art as a tool for healing before, at least knowingly. But I can tell you that my pain would’ve been much worse if I hadn’t followed my creative practice during my time of grief. It took my focus off of the sadness even for a little bit while I was drawing about happiness. It created a tiny buffer between me and my grief.
While I was overcome by sadness, I searched for anything I felt grateful for. In my search for happiness, I found tremendous amount of love and support that surrounded us. There was no judgement of “oh, it was just a cat.” Friends brought flowers, cards, and treats. There were many hugs and tears.
My daily happiness practice helped me appreciate what I have in the face of loss and grief. It also helped me celebrate what I had that was no longer here. Life is never 100% wonderful or terrible. Some days bring more happiness than others. Choosing happiness every day doesn’t make your problems go away but can create a small buffer in your mind so you can face them a bit more calmly.
In case you’re wondering, her brother Sheppie is doing just fine as an only cat of the house. He’ll most likely remain as the only kitty of the house for the remainder of his time.
On a side note, my therapist recommended a book called Cat Heaven to me when I was talking to her about my loss, and boy, this is a wonderful book. It’s meant to be a kids’ book but is good for adults too. They have one for dogs, too, called Dog Heaven. I haven’t read it yet but am sure it’s also good. The illustrations are so sweet and comforting. I guarantee this book will make you cry like a baby, so choose a good time and place to read it! I recommend it to anyone who is mourning a loss of a dog or cat friend.
Ok friends, I will see you next Sunday! I’m going to continue with my Happiness Project Reflection series. Next post is about finding your motivation when you’re not inspired to create.
Take care! xoxo Yuko