Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance

National Blog Posting Month Day 27

I want to thank everybody for their kind words and sympathy on my memorial for Chessie. The most difficult thing I've ever done was going to the vet that morning. I would have done anything for one more day and one more walk, but I had to do what was best for him, not me.

The hardest part of the loss has been adjusting my habits with him not around. There is emptiness in both my heart and my day. My morning and evening routines revolved around his routines. He had a rhythm and pace. If we were slow in moving upstairs at night he would let us us know it was time to go to bed.

My wife who was always jokingly dismissive of the dog is taking the transition to a pet-free house harder than me. She was the one that spoiled him rotten, teaching him to jump onto the bed and buying him rolls as treats. We had just bought a doggie step stool to help him climb onto the couch that he will now never need.

She can't walk into a room without a flood of tear-welling memories. Our housecleaners have dogs, so we gathered all the pet beds and dog dishes and accessories to give to them. Chessie traveled light and didn’t have a lot of toys or doodads. We are trying to find that fine line between memorializing him without being constantly reminded of his absence. We have saved his collar and the bumblebee costume we dressed him in every Halloween.

One strategy to keep him off our minds has been to keep busy. On Saturday, friends invited us to their family’s late Thanksgiving dinner. Everyone was sympathetic and uplifting. We cleaned out the coat closets to have something to do. The outdoor Christmas lights went up in record time without the complications of my always underfoot companion.

It's the little things that keep hitting us. Yesterday we went to OtherBigBoxOfBooks to buy a different calendar to replace the English Cocker Spaniel one we had already bought for the upcoming year. I had to change the wallpaper on my work computer so that I didn’t get hit with a pang of grief every time I minimized Outlook.

I make fun of young newly married couples raising puppies. I call those dogs practice kids. At the other end of the lifespan, pets are also lessons in life. Their limited lifespan makes tragedy inevitable. The death of an animal will never be as tragic as the loss of a loved one or family member, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt any less.

BlatantGriefTherapy™: Tell me a happy story about a pet you've had.


Anonymous said...

Sorry I didn't get a chance to post my sympathies the other day! Our cat Hoagie gave us a scare earlier this year-- had to stay at the vet overnight -- but came back as energetic and bizarre as ever. When she was gone it made me realize how many physical reminders of her presence are scattered all over -- like, for instance, the shoeboxes stashed in various places that she likes to cram her increasingly rotund body into. When Amber's brother was here over Thanksgiving, she opened a particularly narrow box for sandals and the cat ran around demanding to get into it; as the three of us watched, she turned and tucked and squished and eventually was all the way in, with some of her flab muffin-topping over the side, while the three of us laughed and laughed. It couldn't possibly have been comfortable, and she got out after only a few minutes -- she had proved her point, I guess.

Elizabeth said...

Everyday at around 10:30 both our dogs, an Alaskan Husky and a Border Collie mix, howl and sing for a couple of minutes, then stop. It's normal for the husky. but it's hilarious to watch the collie purse her little lips and sing like there's no tomorrow!!

The Mistress of the Dark said...

My Misty who will be gone a year on December 16th used to love to supervise my internet habits, she was always found on the monitor watching me. I have many pictures of her sitting there. My monitor is very lonely without her, even though I still have 4 cats.

TBG said...

I was just thinking the other day that I was feeling sorry for our cat, Molly, that she can't get her own food or freshen her own water.

Then I realized that she indeed can... she just gets us to do it. As soon as I get up in the morning she runs into the bathroom to get a fresh blast of water from the shower.

As soon as I go downstairs she runs to her food bowl to have me fill it.

She has complete control. I'm not kidding myself anymore.

Francesco Marciuliano said...

I was very saddened to read about Chessie's passing. Having experienced the loss of a pet earlier this year, I know how difficult this time must be for you. But trust me, soon you'll be able to reflect on your time with Chessie in an uplifting manner. It won't happen overnight but eventually it will be the great times, memories and constant company he made possible that will come to mind whenever you reflect on Chessie.

Impetua said...

We had an adopted rescued dog, a big brown Doberman named Bosco. He had been hit by a car and never taken to the vet so by the time we got him, his badly broken pelvis had to be surgically repaired. He had been in constant pain for months by then. At any rate, after the surgery he clearly felt much better and I greatly enjoyed taking him to the park and letting him race around chasing squirrels. Once an exceptionally clumsy squirrel fell out of a tree right in front of him. It was like Christmas.

My favorite happy memory of him was taking him to the coast during a storm. It was very windy and I have photos of his ears (which had never been cropped and were satisfyingly floppy) flapping in the wind. I doubt he had ever been to the beach and he had a fantastic time chasing seagulls, to the point that I was worried he wouldn't come back to me. I swear he was a quarter mile away, and he couldn't hear me yelling for him over the surf.

He died suddenly about 3 years ago. We don't really know why. He was not old and didn't have any health problems. Our comfort was that knowing that the last couple of years of his life, with us, were his happiest by far. He was a good dog and very affectionate.

I got a picture frame, mounted a hook on it, and put one of the ear-flappy photos in it. The hook is for his collar. It hangs by the back door in memoriam.

Zenchick said...

My deepest sympathies. It was 4 years ago today that I put my first cat to sleep, and just this past July lost her successor (who was the cat of my late best friend). I loved those animals more than I love most humans in my life, and it was the most painful honor to hold both of them as they went peacefully. There really isn't any validation or proper respect for loss in general in our society, let alone for our furbabies.
May you find peace in your bittersweet grieving.