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peacelovehomeschooling

For those that have lost a pet (TW: pet death)--edited/updated

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Please tell me how you get through this intense overwhelming grief.  What has helped, not helped, what have you done to move through the grief, how have you managed to be in your home with your furry friend not here to greet you?

We lost our 15 year old pup yesterday.  We knew he was not in the best of health.  We knew we would lose him sooner rather than later.  Yet, he got suddenly sick in a way we didn't see coming,  he declined super quickly over a 2 hour period.  We got him seen by the sweet vet I wanted.  She sedated him heavily for us to bring home and cuddle over the afternoon until my husband could get off work.  Then we took him in, I held him, and we let him go.   We handled his cremation arrangements ourselves.  We should have him back this afternoon.  They allowed him to be cremated in his blanket. We gave him the peaceful, kind, loving passing that he so richly deserved.  But we are most assuredly not okay.

This is our first pet loss.  He was/is more than just a pet (as so many of these guys are for all of us).   He has been my everything. He has served as an unofficial service/emotional support animal to me as I have battled PTSD over the last 12 years.  We are hurting so badly and it feels like it will never be better again.

For those that have walked this sad road.....how did you do it?

Edit/update:  Thank you all so very much.  It is so comforting to know that so many have walked this painful road and understand what we are going through.  Our sweet boy is home forever now.  The wonderful pet cremation service had him back to us less than 24 hours after they lovingly came and got him last night.  They even made a clay paw print for us and wrote his name on it.  They gave us the Rainbow Bridge poem (which I will frame), a certificate of his cremains....his "urn" is a beautiful engraved rosewood box.  Everything came in a pretty velvet bag with "until we meet again at the rainbow bridge" written on it.   At this very moment he is tucked beside me with his baby blanket under him.  Oh, the wonderful owner of the place confirmed yet again that he was cremated in his blanket (he personally does every cremation).

We do have another dog.  She is young,  6 years old.  She misses him.  She is sad.  It breaks my heart.  She knew yesterday he was going to die and she got scared and hid.  I believe she knows he is back, I let her sniff his urn and she licked it and then wanted to be held.

I don't know what we will do next.  We are taking our time.  I always thought we wouldn't get another dog, but I don't know anymore.   This little boy has been with me day and night for 15.8 years.  I do absolutely believe I will see him again.  My grandmother sent me a sign 1 1/2 weeks ago that she was with me.  I remember thinking "something bad is going to happen and she is letting me know she is with me".  Then I got busy with life.  Last night I remembered her sign.   I firmly believe she knew, she wanted me to know she was waiting to hold him, she is comforting him until I get to him one day.  This brings me an amount of peace that I cherish.  But I fully admit I would much rather have him alive and healthy in my arms.  Yes to everyone who said they grieved their pet harder than any human, yes a thousand times.  My husband fully agrees with this as well.

Forgive my rambling.  You have each given me some bit of hope that it won't always hurt this much and that we will eventually be okay.  For anyone who wishes,  please please think of Cotton for a minute and blow a kiss to him as he waits for me at the Rainbow Bridge.  From day one he proclaimed me his favorite person and one day he will be back in my arms.  For now, the pain is almost unbearable.

Edited by peacelovehomeschooling
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It is gut wrenching and heart breaking in a literal way. I have lost 3 wonderful dogs over the years and it does rip a hole into the fabric of the family because they are part of it. Even now when I remember one or the other, I have to swallow. Grieve, cry, take walks, cry some more, whatever it takes. Healing can only truly come after grief. One day, there will be a time when you can remember his antics and specific moments with a bittersweet smile. I have considered it a privilege that God has allowed me to care for several of his precious creatures. Bless you all today, one of the hardest days, the day after when the food bowls sit there untouched.

HUGS

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I cried harder over the deaths of my dog and cat than over the deaths of the human relatives I have lost thus far, and that's okay. I was closer to them. My dog was my first baby. Both animals were truly part of our family, sweet little souls in our home. So I understand, and I am so incredibly sorry for your loss.

All I can say is it takes time. For a while I didn't want to look at photos of them or talk about them. Over time it became easier. 

You did the right thing for your pup. You fulfilled all your responsibilities to him. You loved him well until the end. Take comfort in that.

I don't know your spiritual beliefs, but I personally find comfort in knowing I will see my animal companions again. "In the [Lord's] hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind" (Job 12:9). See also Romans 8.

Huge hugs to you. 

Edited by MercyA
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Just to validate your grief, I have lost 2 dog as an adult.  We had to put both of them down.  One was when I was pregnant with ds19 and one was when ds was 16.  I cried for weeks over both of them and yes even now it can bring a tear to my eye.  

 

It just takes a little time to get through the worst of it.  I'm sorry.  ((((Hugs)))

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I felt like my heart was ripped in half each time I lost a dear dog.  I cried for days and weeks after each loss, even months.  As time goes by, I'm left feeling so very, very grateful for having had their precious little souls in my life.  Nothing else quite like it on Earth.

I guess that doesn't help you much right now, only that I certainly understand, and it really DOES get better with time.

And yes, C.S. Lewis also believed that pets who touch our hearts so very deeply will surely be part of our lives again someday.

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Oh no, I’m so sorry, peace.   Like mercyA, I cried way more for my last pup and for my mother’s pup than I ever have for a human.   They become our kids, in a way.  Allow yourself to cry and get it all out.  I tend to like talking about them a lot.  Some people don’t want to for a while.  I like laughing about their antics and talking about them snuggled up with me.  I love those good memories.  It also helps tremendously knowing they’re going to be in heaven and I’ll definitely see them again—no doubt at all.  When we had to put our Biscuit down, we knew she was going to straight into the arms of beloved family members.  That was helpful.   We also made a stone with her name on it and a heart and such and we call it the Biscuit stone in our yard.   Anyway, it’s hard, so grieve however you need to.   Praying for you and sending hugs, friend.  💛

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We lost our 14 yr old fur baby 2 years ago. It was wrenching. I sobbed myself to sleep for a month. It got easier but it still hits me hard every now and then. 

 

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Hugs and I am so, so sorry. I've been through that tremendous grief many times.

One thing that helps when I lose an animal is to find a way to honor them. Most of mine have been rescues, so I usually go to the pound and bring home another one who is badly in need of a home. Or I will donate to a rescue organization , or find a way to help an animal in need. It helps alleviate the grief a little bit.

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51 minutes ago, J-rap said:

And yes, C.S. Lewis also believed that pets who touch our hearts so very deeply will surely be part of our lives again someday.

Others who believed animals will be in eternity include John Wesley, Elizabeth Elliott (widow of Jim Elliott), and William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army).

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It’s really hard.   I still sometimes have something remind me of a dog from 20 years ago and feel sad.    Dogs from childhood not so much now, so I guess enough time passage helps.  

I have personally not tended to get over only dog death till the arrival of a new dog.  

Especially one who because of youth or difficulties demands a lot of attention.

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With One of my dogs, very large dog, the physical act of grave digging helped .  I’m no longer physically that strong, but back then the whole body effort of shoveling and moving soil was a release...  then we planted Flanders Poppies and other things above.

One dog I planted a little flowering tree above, but it died and that was distressing, so now I use a variety of seeds and or bulbs, so something is likely to survive and blossom.  

Listening to certain music that soothed...

not trying not to cry

But still, most of all, the significant relief has come from another dog.

 I no longer like to have older only dogs.  Though they certainly can die unexpectedly when younger too.  

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I am so sorry for your loss. 

My dog is 15 and starting to go downhill. I've lost pets before, I worked for a vet and watched many pets final moments. It still hurts to think about. Grief, like any grief, comes in waves. I save dog tags and puppy collars. I put out photos. I cry, a lot. 

In the past, the best way to "overcome" was get another dog. I'm at the point in my life where I'm not sure I should have another dog. Want, sure...should is another thing. When I worked for the vet, they lost their beloved dog one day and went right out the next day and bought home 2 puppies. They just knew their lives were not complete without a dog and puppy stage keeps you busy. 

For me, I had to convince ex (then dh) that having a dog was part of who I was. It took 2 years after we lost two huskies in a short period of time for him to agree about another dog. That's the one that is 15 now. 

Cry, grieve, ponder adopting another dog. It doesn't have to be a puppy - oh my I had forgotten how hard potty training was, and we got our dog in January. 

We also have cats, but I am more of a dog person. No doubt cats are easier to maintain on some levels. But pets are a part of my life, I really can't imagine not having one. When you're ready consider if pets are part of your life and consider what fits into your lifestyle now. 
 

(((hugs)))

 

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1 hour ago, MercyA said:

Others who believed animals will be in eternity include John Wesley, Elizabeth Elliott (widow of Jim Elliott), and William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army).

 

I personally believe this as well because I think God does not waste his creation but many do not and I respect it. I suppose there is only one way to know for sure.

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Our old dog had cancer and we knew the time was coming. Dh had just come home from bypass surgery, so ds and I spent a week digging Rusty’s grave in the rocky dirt uphill from the kitchen window, often with Rusty sitting in the dirt next to us. After he died I made a flowerbed next to him. His daffodils and grape hyacinth bulbs are actually coming up right now.

We didn’t know how to get past the grief, so we started looking for another. Dh still wasn’t allowed to drive post surgery and I worried about him even riding in the car, but we found one and drove a couple hours to get her. We learned that she was born the day Dh was released from the hospital. He loved her immediately. I admit that it took me a couple months to fully bond, because I kept comparing her to Rusty. But she’s now the best dog in the world. Some people need time to mourn a pet, but we realize that we need a pet to help us through the grieving process.

Edited by Dotwithaperiod
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I'm so, so sorry. Grieving a much loved pet is wrenching. It's hard. I think maybe it's even harder for those of us who don't work outside the home. We're with the pet so much, their constant presence becomes so much a part of our life, and the void they leave is huge. Other than time the only thing that has helped me is having another pet to concentrate on. So far I've been able to arrange things so that I was never left without at least one pet. If I were to find myself that way I'd probably have to start the search for another dog the next day. That's not to say it's necessarily the right approach for anyone else. Gentle hugs.

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Ugh. 

I think people handle it differently. 

For me, losing an pet leaves a pet sized hole in my heart and the only thing that helps is to get another pet. Like, to the point where I actually went and got another dog while pregnant because I had an intuition my older dog didn't have long. I was right. Had I not had that sweet puppy to go home and snuggle while I cried I don't know what I would have done. Actually, I do know. I would have driven straight from the vet to the animal shelter and adopted a dog. 

So that's my only advice, and it isn't right for everyone. But for me, the only thing that helps with that gaping wound is another dog. It doesn't fix it, doesn't replace the pet you loved, but it stops the bleeding and lets me move forward. 

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2 hours ago, MercyA said:

Others who believed animals will be in eternity include John Wesley, Elizabeth Elliott (widow of Jim Elliott), and William Booth (founder of the Salvation Army).

 The pastor of my church does too.  🙂 

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I just wanted to say that I'm so sorry.  I know that I will be absolutely crushed when I go through this some day.  I wish you much healing. 

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My elderly cat died this October, and it was so, so hard, even though we have two other cats.  It just sucks.

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3 hours ago, Ktgrok said:

. Actually, I do know. I would have driven straight from the vet to the animal shelter and adopted a dog. 

 

Btdt.  

And want to add a caution @peacelovehomeschoolingthat bereavement can lead to making an impulse decision on a new dog that might be...sometimes...perhaps less than Wise.  

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7 hours ago, peacelovehomeschooling said:

Forgive my rambling.  You have each given me some bit of hope that it won't always hurt this much and that we will eventually be okay. 

 

I am sorry for your loss and sadness.

glad you do have another dog there already

 

if this could also help any, the burial places for dogs since I have lived where I live now, no longer evoke sadness.  More places of a sense of peace and love.  Like good dog spirits still abide. 

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I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so hard. We had two very beloved dogs die over the past couple years.  One of my kids took it awfully hard. She needed to grieve and talk about it, which helped me to grieve as well. One thing that helped was getting out old videos from when the dogs were younger and healthy and full of energy. Seeing them like that reminded us that they were now in a better place and not burdened with sickness and old age anymore. 

It took six months after our last dog was gone before we were ready to get another puppy. She’s not a replacement, but it does help. 

I would keep an eye on your other dog. We needed to put our surviving dog on antidepressants when our other one died. She was hardly eating and just wanted to sleep all day. The medication brought back her appetite and perked her up. She only needed it for a few weeks.

Hugs to you and your family.

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Blowing Cotton many kisses as he waits for you!!! ❤️🌈

 

Edited by MercyA
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I’m sorry for your loss. I’m preemptively grieving the day (hopefully long in the future) when my dd’s sweet pup is gone. 

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13 hours ago, peacelovehomeschooling said:

.  My grandmother sent me a sign 1 1/2 weeks ago that she was with me.  I remember thinking "something bad is going to happen and she is letting me know she is with me". 

 

I believe in signs like this as well and need to remember to watch out for them. That is so comforting, isn't it, to know we are being cared for, as well as your pet in the afterlife. 

 Just before my mom had a stroke, a beautiful stray cat found his way to our house.  He warmed up to me and would even perch on my shoulder. I loved having him around after my mom passed, but since we had a dog and a cat that was pretty territorial, we found another home for the stray with a little girl who was wanting a cat.  It was only after I gave him away that I realized the timing in all of this, and figured he was probably a gift to me to help me through my grieving.  I then wished that I had kept him.  But it was good to know though that he made the little girl happy.  

I'm very sorry for your loss. Pets are here for more reasons than we will ever know.   The cremation place sounds great.  I never knew those places did those kinds of caring things.   I know the day is coming for our dog as well, as he is getting up there and I have wondered how I too will handle it.  He is a 'momma's boy', but lately I have been thinking he was sent to me for a reason.  He watches over me day and night, and has been my emotional barometer through the years.  I only wish I had discovered this sooner, as he sure knows when I need some cuddling or cheering up.  

Take time to enjoy memories of your beloved. You are grieving and you are allowed...hugs. 

 

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I am so sorry about your sweet pup.  We said goodbye to our 18 year old cat this past fall.  Two years before that, we said goodbye to our 17-year-old cats, 2 brothers who were bonded and with each other their whole life.  They died 3 weeks apart.   It was so, so hard.  An acquaintance, who meant well, said "Oh, don't be sad! You can always get another cat!".  Yes, but I want *MY* cat.  Can you get me *my* cat? No? Then be quiet. 

Let yourself cry and mourn your pup fully.  He was part of your life for a long time!  Pets are family and they are friends, too.  Grieving this loss feels catastrophic, but it does get better, a little at a time.  After my 17-yo cats died, I cried multiple times a day for weeks.  I realized after a while, that I wasn't crying quite so much anymore, maybe a few times a week.  Less and less tears as time went on.  Then I felt guilty for not crying! I beat myself on for moving on so "easily".  But the heart and mind want to move on.  It seems like you'll never feel right again, but you will.  There are happier days ahead, but they are hard to see right now, which makes it feel like you'll never get there.   You will get there, though you have to pass through all this grief first. 

You won't ever stop loving and missing your dog, but in time, the pain won't be so staggering.  Instead of making you cry, the memories will start to make you smile and even laugh.      

 

❤️ ❤️ ❤️

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9 hours ago, lovelearnandlive said:

I’m so sorry for your loss. It’s so hard. We had two very beloved dogs die over the past couple years.  One of my kids took it awfully hard. She needed to grieve and talk about it, which helped me to grieve as well. One thing that helped was getting out old videos from when the dogs were younger and healthy and full of energy. Seeing them like that reminded us that they were now in a better place and not burdened with sickness and old age anymore. 

It took six months after our last dog was gone before we were ready to get another puppy. She’s not a replacement, but it does help. 

I would keep an eye on your other dog. We needed to put our surviving dog on antidepressants when our other one died. She was hardly eating and just wanted to sleep all day. The medication brought back her appetite and perked her up. She only needed it for a few weeks.

Hugs to you and your family.

I am.  I started getting worried about her early yesterday.  She is sad and it breaks my heart in fresh new ways.  She heard me say his name and jerked her head up and looked around, I felt horrible and picked her up, all under her eyes was wet.  By the time I stopped sobbing, all of her was wet.  Anyway,  she hasn't been playing and follows me everywhere super close to my feet.  So I carry her most of the time or my daughter is carrying her (she is a tiny 6 pounds).  We did get her to play for a bit yesterday.  She has her physical in 2 weeks (with the same vet) and if she is still struggling I will most definitely talk to her vet about it...unless she needs to be seen before then.  She is eating and drinking well and though she is obviously sad, she is responding to our extra care and love.

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4 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I am so sorry about your sweet pup.  We said goodbye to our 18 year old cat this past fall.  Two years before that, we said goodbye to our 17-year-old cats, 2 brothers who were bonded and with each other their whole life.  They died 3 weeks apart.   It was so, so hard.  An acquaintance, who meant well, said "Oh, don't be sad! You can always get another cat!".  Yes, but I want *MY* cat.  Can you get me *my* cat? No? Then be quiet. 

Let yourself cry and mourn your pup fully.  He was part of your life for a long time!  Pets are family and they are friends, too.  Grieving this loss feels catastrophic, but it does get better, a little at a time.  After my 17-yo cats died, I cried multiple times a day for weeks.  I realized after a while, that I wasn't crying quite so much anymore, maybe a few times a week.  Less and less tears as time went on.  Then I felt guilty for not crying! I beat myself on for moving on so "easily".  But the heart and mind want to move on.  It seems like you'll never feel right again, but you will.  There are happier days ahead, but they are hard to see right now, which makes it feel like you'll never get there.   You will get there, though you have to pass through all this grief first. 

You won't ever stop loving and missing your dog, but in time, the pain won't be so staggering.  Instead of making you cry, the memories will start to make you smile and even laugh.      

 

❤️ ❤️ ❤️

A few years ago our dogs went to a different vet office.  I had never liked the vet but Cotton was very young, rarely had to go, and there was another vet in practice with him and she was wonderful and we could usually see her, so we stayed with the practice.  One day, for some reason, we got stuck seeing this guy.  Cotton was older by now and we had our younger dog.  Something made this guy say to me "you know at least you have another dog.  the people i feel really bad for are the ones with no other animals and come home to a quiet house".  I almost hit him.  Like you said,  I want MY dog.  I want COTTON!  I love our other dog, but she is no replacement for Cotton.  And guess what?  Our home is too quiet....my arms too empty...my heart has a Cotton shaped hole in it that will never close.  We left the practice not long after that.  I couldn't even look at him without thinking about what he said and knowing there was no way he was going to spend a second of either of our dogs' last few precious minutes on this earth with them or us.

I am very sorry for the losses you have had.  Thank you for your advice and help.

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Thank you all for your stories and sharing your hearts with me.  It has helped and I appreciate you all revisiting your own pain to help me (and my family) with our pain.

For 20-30 seconds when I first woke up this morning I had forgotten he was gone.  Then, like a brick wall, it hit me and I remembered.  It was like losing him all over again.  Only worse somehow.

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I do think that some pets grieve the loss of a companion very much like humans do. But I also don't rule out the possibility that some pets are simply reacting to their owner's emotions. They know when we're upset or when we're happy.

Please understand that I'm not trying to put any pressure on you to not act sad around your other dog. I'm just pointing out that the behaviors she exhibits may be grief due to missing her companion, may be a reaction to your grief, or may be something entirely unrelated. Or a combo of any/all of those.

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