Salvatore asks: As you know, my father died a few months ago. Now, whenever my friends talk about their dads, I feel that something is burning inside me. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I think it may be jealousy. Please tell me how to overcome this feeling.
Hi Salvatore –
I have written about jealousy a few times. Usually it’s about romantic jealousy, which can be anything from heartbreaking to fun to, as we know, murderous!
But the jealousy you talk about is something very different. What happened to your father – and to you and the rest of your family – is absolutely unfair. There’s nothing you have done – or could have done – to deserve this pain. And when you hear other kids talk about their fathers, there’s no way it won’t hurt.
Though, of course, unless they’re purposely trying to make you feel bad, this isn’t their fault at all. They feel about their dads the way you once were able to feel about yours – taking him as a normal aspect of their lives, sometimes great, sometimes annoying, maybe sometimes kind of awful, but usually just… there. And it’s that casual attitude about their having a father that must hurt the most. If you know someone who has a super-expensive car like a Lamborghini or a Maserati, and they talk about how amazing it is, you might feel a little jealousy. But here’s something they can’t begin to appreciate the way you would, and they’re taking it for granted. It makes me whimper just to think about it.
The reason I’m saying all this is to say to you — don’t feel bad about feeling jealous. You’re right. You have every reason to have that burning inside you. In fact, maybe you can even give the message to your friends: “You have no idea how lucky you are. What’s normal to you is my greatest wish in the world, and one which can never be answered. Appreciate your dads. They are irreplaceable! I know.“
And you know, if you say that to them, they might start talking about their dads in different ways, at least in front of you. And when you realize they’re allowing for your feelings, maybe some of the hurt will start to lessen.
But I do want you to use this awareness for something else, too. Look at your mom – now that you know what it’s like to lose your dad, how much do you appreciate her now? What about that elder brother who’s helping you through this? What about other family or friends?
One thing we dogs tend to be better at than people is feeling and showing our appreciation for others right when they’re there. People have so much going on in their brains, they often don’t realize how much others mean to them till they’re going or gone.
Well, my dear friend, here’s a time to be like me. Think about how much you value the ones you love, and live every moment in gratitude for them. Treasure them the way I treasure Handsome and he treasures me.
And somewhere, your dad will see you doing that, and be just ever so proud of you. I know I am.
All my best,