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Puravida's avatar

How do you deal with grief that everyone around you trivialises?

Asked by Puravida (62points) September 3rd, 2014

About eight years ago, I went away for college. When I came home, I found that my horse had been loaned by my parents without my knowledge. It had never been discussed with me. Then, an incredible story that she had broken her leg, and would be put down, emerged.

I never got to say goodbye. This was my baby. I never got any closure. I go for long periods of time, years, without feeling sad. I can finally look at pictures again, sometimes. I am so angry at my parents for giving my baby to someone incompetent.

I have been looking into getting another horse, as I thought that many years later I was ready, and all of this terrible grief has flooded back to me. I tried to talk to my family about this overwhelming sense of loss and heartache that I feel, and no one will discuss it with me. They tell me that it is ridiculous that I feel this way, childish, and immature. This is not something that I discuss on a regular basis, in fact, it has been many years.

Is it really childish to be grieving this so much later? Am I really unreasonable to want to talk to my family about why I feel this way and how I can move on?

How do I get over this? I think it would have helped if I had been able to say goodbye, have a piece of mane, or anything. Instead, my family ridicules my feelings and hangs up on me. I promise, I have not brought this up for years and years, I am not sure why they react this way. I feel like it is unfair for my feelings to be reduced to nothingness. Sure, it would be nice to not care at all anymore, but is that ever possible?

I also feel such guilt for going away to college, and leaving her in the first place. It was not possible to take her with me. I know I can’t feel bad about going to school, I mean, you can’t let a horse dictate your entire life. If I had known this would have happened, I never would have left.

My grandmother told me on the phone that if I am upset about this, I am going to be a neurotic, unhappy person, and then she hung up on me. Is it really so unhealthy? I myself am not really sure why after all these years, I am grieving like these events happened yesterday.

What do I do?

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15 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it sounds like the horse, so far, has been the most important thing in your life, so no. It’s not strange to be grieving.

People want to trivialize it because they’re comparing a horse to a child. They can understand grieving for a child for years, but in comparison to a horse they think it’s stupid.

I have to ask how often do you talk to people, like your grandmother about this? If you bring it up every time you talk to her, I can understand why she hung up on you.

Puravida's avatar

Thank you for your reply.

I haven’t brought this up for years and years, to anyone. It has always been something that I have dealt with privately… which even that, has not been a huge issue for me. For some reason, right now, it feels like it just occurred. I was surprised that she hung up on me, but what can I expect, my family has never been very supportive in this regard. I can only guess that maybe they feel responsible and guilty, and do not want to talk about it at all, and just trivialize my feelings as an excuse to justify that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

That could be. Or they just don’t really understand how you could feel so deeply about an animal.

Either way, that just wasn’t a nice thing for them to do, and I’m sorry.

What was your horse like? What was his/her name?

Puravida's avatar

Her name was Classy. She was a dark bay Arabian, with tiny ears and great big brown eyes, and her tail was about six feet long. She was beautiful. We showed together for many years. My parents had divorced, and when I was upset, I would go to Classy. She had a way of making things better. For a long time, she was my only friend. She would let me hold her head in my arms, like she knew. She was a great source of comfort to me, especially in my awkward teenage years. To me, she was much more than just a horse. I think many people will agree who have horses – you can form amazing connections with them. They are much wiser and more intelligent than you could imagine.

JLeslie's avatar

One reason people trivialize it is because people themseves are uncomfortable or anxious watching you be upset. They want to releive their own anxiety so they want you to stop agonizing.

I really think your sadness over your horse was triggered again because you were looking into getting a new horse, and this wave of mourning and anger will pass, like it had before, and you will move on. It’s ok to be upset years later when you think about it, as long as you are not obsessing about it for years.

You have to try and free yourself of any guilt, none of it was your fault. The horse was yours, but in reality it was your parents horse, you were a child. Even while you were in college you were a student.

Think about if your best friend told you the same story, would you want her to feel so badly about something she had no control over? Sure being sad that your horse was hurt is understandable, and I think the loss of such a wonderful companion for you is a really difficult thing to deal woth, but feeling like it was your responsibility, that is unwarranted.

Are you settled in your own adult life now? Have a job? Can pay all your bills? The first few years after graduating can be extremely stressful and scary, so you might be on edge.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She was a tie to a very emotional time in your life. You grief is all tied up with the grief of your parent’s divorcing.

She sounds like a beautiful horse. I had a horse for a few years as a young teen. I know how comforting they can be.

longgone's avatar

Your feelings are completely justified. You experienced a special connection, one your family can’t fathom. That is not something you have to “get over”. Grief flooding back at the thought of another horse is not surprising, either. Not at all!

While I haven’t ever felt a deeper connection to a horse, I frequently do with dogs. Your family may have never had that. Imagine someone told you they were grieving for their pet ant. You might be able to comfort them, but could you really feel their pain? How about if someone you know started grieving for every tissue they throw away?

I don’t want to compare Classy to a tissue. She sounds like a very special horse, and I’m so sorry about your loss. What I’m trying to say is that even in grieving, we all draw a line. Grief for a child seems unquestionably “normal”, while grieving for a pet is often ridiculed. Everyone’s line is different. If your family has your back in other situations, I would try to recognize your different points of view. If one has never felt the connection to an animal, it must be nearly impossible to understand. You are one of the lucky ones.

Another reason for your family’s behaviour is probably guilt. They don’t want to acknowledge how big a mistake they made. Understandable, but not very mature. Then again, how mature are any of us?

As to “What do I do?”, I would definitely talk about your feelings. Not with your family, though. They obviously can’t help here, quite simply because they have no idea of what you’re going through.

I would either turn to understanding friends or therapy. The latter, especially, can be a wonderful outlet because therapists get paid to listen and, consequently, many are very good at it.

A quick way to just get out of this stage you’re in right now may be joining an online platform for horse lovers. Alternatively, tell us more about Classy right here. How long did you have her for? Got any favourite stories? Or, you could send me a PM and persuade me to take up riding lessons. I’ve toyed with that idea for a while, and I need a push.

[Bear Hug.]

dappled_leaves's avatar

I agree with everything @JLeslie said.

Pachy's avatar

With absolutely no disrespect intended toward other jellies who have given you input, I don’t believe an online community is the best venue for dealing with your grief, especially since it may have to do with other issues you’re not consciously aware of.

I suggest you find a grief support group in your area and give it a try. Helps a lot to be in a group led by a strong, experienced facilitator, and to be able to talk with others who are going through a similar experiences.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

It sounds like you feel guilty for leaving her and you can’t get beyond your grief because you feel you are in some way responsible. I don’t think that’s trivial. That the grief is for a horse is immaterial. You loved her. You felt responsible for her. I get the impression you feel you let her down and didn’t protect her. Even if you don’t feel this in a logical, conscious way.

I think some grief counselling would be helpful. Having someone to debrief with so you can resolve your feelings and move on. Grief can be cyclic and we can get stuck and not move through the cycles as we should.

Buttonstc's avatar

You really need to be with those who’ve walked in your shoes.

People who have never had that special bond with an animal in their life just plain can’t comprehend the level of the grief that accompanied the loss of a beloved animal.

Those of us who’ve known that realize this. It would at least be nice if others wouldn’t ridicule, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.

I have no idea where you live but the link I’m including has lists of lots of resources both online and in real life.

In many places there are pet loss support groups, usually free, where people can share with others who know.

Obviously those with dogs and cats are the most common but the species really doesn’t
matter at all. All are welcome.

You can also check with a few local vet offices if they know of any local groups.

If there is a college nearby with a veterinary school associated, that wouid be another place to try.

Or you could start a pet bereavement group yourself through

Hopefully, there will be one or more leads for you at this website

And no, you are not wrong for feeling as you do. You’re just surrounded by clueless people who are judging you.

Grief takes as long as it tales and goes through periods of ebb and flow. The fact that you had no closure just compounds the issue.

Go find some people who understand. You deserve it.

BrittanyA's avatar

It is very normal to grieve, even many years later. You will never be able to replace your horse, but I think it would be healthy for you to find a new one and form a bond with it. I think as much as you loved your horse he/she would want you to be happy and love another one.

Here2_4's avatar

There is a difference between grieving, and obsession. Grieving means you are sad, but when a sad experience affects your choices, and relationships so msny years later, that is obsession. You need to get some help moving on, and living your life in the present.

Puravida's avatar

Thank you all for your kind comments, it is nice to know that there are so many sweet people out there.

GracieT's avatar

I came into this conversation, but I hope I can add something. I just leased a horse. I don’t own her (a blood bay saddlebred) but she is already
my baby. I can’t get up to see her as often as I would like and I’m not physically able to truly care for her, but I already love her and she has become important to me. Many people don’t understand how this is
possible, to already care for her so much, but I do. I think that if she was no longer part of my
life I would be crushed, especially if by circumstances I was not a part of or had no control over. They may not understand, but many people do. Remember that what you are feeling is a normal part of grief, and no matter how long it has been you are still grieving. Your feelings are yours, and no-one has any right to tell you that they should be any different. I can tell you that we are here for you, and many of us truly understand.

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