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Aethelwine's avatar

Can you please help me with this pet loss?

Asked by Aethelwine (42940points) 1 month ago

Some of you have known about our two dogs for as long as you’ve known my husband and I.

Our dogs, Bear and Spot, are litter mates. We’ve raised them since they were born. They are blue heeler/ black lab mix. They are both 10½ years old.

Bear passed away at home this morning in his sleep. We have a private company coming to transport him from our apartment to their facilities where they will cremate him and scatter his remains on a local farm.

The problem… Due to a snow storm they can’t help us until tomorrow morning. We have Bear in the coldest room in our apartment that happens to be my husband’s studio. I’m in here right now so I can be with him.

Jon did all the social work to get the help Bear needs. What he can’t handle is the physical aspect of all of this. He won’t even look in this room. I’ve handled the clean up to make sure Bear is resting in a clean and dry space wrapped in a blanket. He’s 70 lbs. It wasn’t easy. I couldn’t handle the social aspect because I’ve been a blubbering mess all day.

I’m coping but I’m crying. This is so hard. Any words of advice? This is the first pet death that I’ve ever witnessed or had to be responsible for.

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15 Answers

Zaku's avatar

It’s hard and feelings are best allowed to be had and expressed as much as one can.

I have found a lot of solace with my pets whom I’ve lost, by considering that they never last more than those animals live, and the best any of us get is to have a good life while we’re alive. That helps me reflect on how happy a life they had with me, and I was aware I gave them really good happy lives, so that although I would miss them, their life was really pretty much all really great, which eventually has me feeling good and satisfied about it all.

Passing in sleep is also a really gentle way to go.

Yellowdog's avatar

@Zaku ‘s answer is excellent. Especially the thought about remembrance and reflection on how happy a life they had with you, and that you did everything in your power to give them happy lives. The love of dogs is a precious bond, and I can assure you that you gave Bear (and Spot, who is still with you) perfect, happy lives and that they knew they were loved completely. When love is complete, the purpose of life has been satisfied in full.

You probably feel that you don’t want to let go of your grief because it is the purest expression of love that remains, But eventually you will, and you will find that love remains.

The surviving dog, Spot, is experiencing grief, too. So once Bear is no longer present, spend extra time with Spot. You may find that Spot will bond more with you.

I have lost two pairs of littermates in my 54 years and they each lived about 10–11 years. One lived sixteen—surviving her sister by almost five years. They were Yellow Lab / Irish Setter mixes, the color of spongecake. I bonded with the last one most of all, but loved all of them equally. I still feel their love over the years, the special rapport and bond, everywhere I go, and sometimes visit places that bring back memories. The memories bring comfort and nostalgia and love. Very rarely do I still cry, but when I do, it actually feels good rather than painful. I need it.

Sometimes, I still buy them treats or valentines items like pillows, and I saved many of their toys.even though they’ve been gone some years. You never have to give up love, and you will experience the bond in cherished memories.

Once Bear is gone, give Spot lots of love and understanding. I’m praying for you. Pardon me if you are not religious, but I am praying. Keep the bond and the memories. They will last forever.

Jeruba's avatar

Dealing with a pet’s death is really hard. And it’s not made easier by people who say callous things like “It’s not as if it were a child” (nobody like that here, I hope). No, but pets are members of the family too. They represent a lot of history. They’re our nonjudgmental allies and comforters. And they trust us to take care of them and do what’s best for them, even when we’re not sure we trust ourselves.

That’s what you’ve both done, you and Jon. And how fortunate for you both that he’s able to do what you can’t, and you’re able to do what he can’t.

You gave Bear a good life, and now you’re treating his death with love and respect. You’ll be comforted in part just knowing that you’ve done it well. Maybe you’ll always miss him, but you won’t always feel this sad.

And the support and understanding of fellow jellies like @Zaku and @Yellowdog is a gift.

You don’t need advice. You’re already doing what feels right. Your instincts are true. So let me just offer my sympathy. I’ve been there too.

JLeslie's avatar

So sorry to hear about this loss for you and your family. I have no special advice. Bear was a part of your daily lives and the absence of him of course is very sad. Let yourself mourn. It sounds like you have done everything you can to show your respect and love for Bear.

BackinBlack's avatar

I’m so sorry for your loss. I’ve lost a few pets and it’s truly unbearable. It will just take time. Don’t let anyone downgrade what you are feeling because you lost your pet. You have every right to grieve over this. Take as much time as you need to cry and be sad.

Sounds like he went peacefully and after a long happy life with you.

kritiper's avatar

My condolences.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m so sorry, it’s one of the hardest things, losing a family member.

Maybe you both should avoid the room and instead focus on Spot, who is probably feeling very lost and alone.

Bear is gone now and tormenting yourself being with him in a cold room will not help him, so unless it comforts you, maybe go get warm and hang with the others until the folks come.

Again, I’m so very sorry.

rojo's avatar

This is not directly connected to this thread but I want to pass it on.

Over the years I have had several pets die and each time I have been there when they died and buried them myself. I was fortunate, unlike @Aethelwine, to have a place that I could do so.

I have found that the act of digging a grave, placing my friend into it and then refilling the hole to be a very cathartic experience (if that is the right word). It allows me to come to terms with what has happened, accept that it has happened and feel that what I am doing as the last thing I can do for my longtime companion, is what is needed, for both of us.
It is very much like the funeral services that you attend for human friends and family except that. to me, the physical labor it requires seems to help allay the pain of loss much more quickly.
Being close by also allowed me to greet them whenever I passed their burial site; something I did quite often as most were in the back yard. It was a way to remember what they had done for me and how much better my life had been for having them in it.

A few years back when my daughters boxer died I got a frantic, sobbing phone call at 9:30 in the evening. Rusty’s death was a tragic accident, one that she had come home from a date to find had occurred. She, and her boyfriend were a both mess when I got there. Taking control of the situation, I asked her where I should put him and started digging. As distraught as she was she joined me with digging and filling without asking, crying the almost the entire time. By the time she had finished she had gotten her emotions under control and had come to terms with the situation. To this day she remains saddened by what happened but like me and mine, she says hi to Rusty almost daily.

One other thing, with each one I bury a favorite toy or blanket or something that brought them joy. It is like sending a part of me along to be with them.

rojo's avatar

One final, final thing. Our last two dogs Skye and Ayre, got to the point where I had to take them in to the vets in the end; Ayre on his 16th birthday. That was hard, so hard. Both times the vet made casts of their paw prints before releasing them with me. I have both those casts on my dresser.

If this is at all possible, I hope you can do this or that the vet can do it for you.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rojo I’ve heard a few people taking those to get tats of the paw prints these days.

longgone's avatar

Oh no, how hard. Hugs.

There’s no magical cure, but I found solace in creating a little box of keepsakes. Favourite toy, some pictures, the tags…then I had a small “party” with people who loved my furry friend, and we all wrote the names of her favourite people and things on slips of paper. Those went in the box too.

At some point, I lit a candle at a spot in the woods we both liked.

I wrote a lot – sharing stories helped. I got a book like this, which helped me feel less alone.

However, I also had to accept that I was sad, very sad, for a long time. It’s dangerous to push these emotions away – so as hard as it is, try to set apart a few minutes at least to really let yourself grieve, every day.

And now I have to stop thinking about this, I’m getting too sad again.

Aethelwine's avatar

Thank you all so very much. My eyes are heavy from crying. We are so grateful to have a service available here that will pick up your pet, especially after a snow storm. They gave me a locket of Bear’s hair and put it in a cute fabric bag tied with a bow.

I found the general area where his ashes will be scattered and it’s a beautiful place. It’s near the Wisconsin River and not far from the House on the Rock. I know it doesn’t mean anything to Bear but it gives me comfort knowing his remains will be in the type of land he loved.

Spot is sad and he senses my heartbreak. He cuddled with me on my bed this morning and I cried. He started whimpering as well. I’ve been trying to be more calm since then when he’s near me but it’s hard.

Your words have been very helpful. xoxo

MrGrimm888's avatar

I list my Wanda (dog I had 14 years) very recently. I have not coped well either.

Just wanted to offer my support.

If I find anything that helps, I’ll let you know.

In the mean time, I hope you recover as fast as possible.

Peace n love.

Aethelwine's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Thank you. I never understood the deep loss of pets until now. When you are responsible for a life and they are suddenly gone, that’s a huge loss. This changes your life drastically. It affects your daily routine. I never understood until now. (Hugs)

MrGrimm888's avatar

It’s not really something to be “understood.”

It’s just a traumatic path that we must endure, to get the handful of unconditional love. It’s hard to replace that. It’s hard to simply let such a thing pass on. It’s hard to forget the “little” things.

Most of our pets,never really grow up. They are stuck in a sort of childishness, that ensures that you lose a child (regardlessof age.)

In time…... Hopefully you will eventually bring another into your life. There are many more of them that need us, than the other way around.

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