Pain and Gratitude
May 10, 2017
I need to share where I am today.
Two nights ago, my wife and I had to put down our Golden Retriever, Rocky.
Days earlier, Rocky had been brightening our lives — as he’s done for four years.
It was the most abrupt and painful ending imaginable to what we both held very dear. He was our Rock. Our best friend. And he made our apartment into a home when our closest human family members are nearly 1,000 miles away.
Our hearts were broken. Then the grieving started.
A few hours later, with emotions still raw, I wrote on my Facebook page:
“To my pal, Rocky:
The way you kept me company when I worked from my desk, woke me up by jumping on the bed, and the way you greeted us after a long day at work with a smile, tail wag, and unconditional love won’t be forgotten. We’re glad you’re no longer suffering and cherish the memories you brought us.
We’ll miss you, buddy.”
Walking out of the ER with an empty leash and a crying wife on my arm provided a tough reminder:
Nothing is guaranteed. You are promised nothing.
Not in the next ten minutes, not tomorrow, and not ten years from now. All we have is the present.
At the end of the day, money, big biceps, a cool car, or a baller apartment are worth nothing without the relationships we build and the love we share.
Though I’m an optimist, it’s been a battle to stay positive. I’ve realized that’s the nature of emotional pain: often there is nothing you could have done differently. There is no “what if” because sometimes life is what it is.
Still, despite the deafening silence in my apartment twisting the knife deeper with each workout I write, there’s another way to use pain.
Pain is a call to action.
Pain is an opportunity to reflect and be grateful for what you have and change for the better. You take action when the willingness to stay the same is worse than the pain of taking action.
And how do you take action?
By training. And while physical training is my wheelhouse, it’s become readily apparent mental training is one of the most overlooked components of health. If you don’t have a healthy mind, can you have a healthy body? I don’t think so.
So here’s what I’m going to do. Instead of beating myself up about what I could have done differently in handling Rocky’s short illness, I’m going to start a gratitude practice.
The benefits are numerous, including:
– Improved physical and psychological health
– Improved empathy
– Improved self-esteem
– Improved sleep
These are all things you can use, right?
So far, I have been focusing on being thankful for the happiness Rocky provided and the loving relationship I have with my wife, family, friends, and the Bach Performance community. They’ve been beacons of light in my time of darkness.
For that, and for you, I’m thankful.
Now, I have a question to ask you. Will you join me in building a practice of gratitude?
If so, here’s how.
Take 3-5 minutes each morning to write five things you’re thankful for. Consider your…
Let’s all be thankful for the health we have, the relationships we’ve built, and the ability to improve both. Thank you for being here.
As someone who’s lost multuple animals including a dog I had for 14 years I know the pain you feel. It’s pretty much the worst thing ever. I’m with you on being grateful for what you have and it truly it’s a wake up call to remember it’s often whats not tangible that matters most. Material things won’t cause the joy an animal will by far.
Keep your head up man.
Thank you, Chris. Sudden loss is a cruel slap of reality that nothing is promised. Thanks for the support, brother.
Much love to you and your wife. ❤ gratitude journal is a wonderful idea and I will do the same.
Thank you, Kim. We appreciate your support and gratitude.
Eric, so sadden by your and Lauren’s loss of Rocky, it is never easy whether it’s a long illness or quick, each is just extremely difficult to cope with such a loss of an unconditionally loving companion, as your Rocky was! Appreciate the time we have with everyone close to you, because as you said, “you never know” it is not in our control! You are in my thoughts at this difficult time! Take care.Julie
Thank you, Julie!
My wife and I sobbed when we had to put our first “child” ( Springer Spaniel) down. We had grown as a young couple through the joys and challenges of our early married life together with Gracie. Her loss was very difficult for us, as such losses are reminders that life is fragile and each day is a blessing.
Now that we have 3 beautiful daughters (and two dogs) we try to live life fully, mindful that each day brings a new opportunity to be thankful for something good. Thank you, Eric, for sharing and reminding us of priorities! Now… about those biceps….I’ve only got 43 days until Hawaii–let’s get it going!! ????
I’m sorry to hear about Gracie. This sounds similar to Lauren and me: we got Rocky when we were young, across the country for family and we all bonded close. We’re working to shift from grief to happy memories, but it all takes time. I’m happy the reminder helped and thankful for your gracious message.
NOW. Let’s get those biceps 🙂