I’ve always been an active and big advocate for animals and the environment. I called my senators and representatives when there was an issue I cared about or wanted to change. Online petitions to stop animal cruelty and abuse bombarded me daily, and I almost always signed them.
But after Reg died, I could not even open those emails. Grief consumed so much of my energy that I just couldn’t expose myself to any more sadness, which is what the petitions brought me. I felt as though I was turning my back on animals and the issues I cared about, and this made me feel guilty. But I just could not do it. I had to disengage from the world. In fact, I changed my email address because I couldn’t handle looking at my old life. Also, I used to use Outlook for my email, but I couldn’t face all the old emails in my inbox—from the animal shelter, from causes, from Reg, from our old friends, etcetera—so I stopped using Outlook and instead now use the webmail application from my new email address.
Similarly, I used to be incredibly involved with a cat shelter. I wrote biographies for the cats up for adoption, I trained new volunteers and served as a volunteer mentor, I headed a marketing committee, I responded to adopters who needed help, and I visited with the cats at least one day per week. After Reg passed away, I couldn’t get myself to engage with the shelter or even talk about it. I felt horribly guilty for not helping the cats anymore. But I also felt that if I engaged with the shelter, I would get swallowed in an abyss of sadness and never find my way out of it. I felt as if my spirit couldn’t handle any more emotional angst. So sadly, I gave up on something that had been important to me and had been a proud part of my identity.
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