Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What Remains

So strange the things you find comfort in.

This morning I went for a run – of course I did.  As I came to a familiar corner, I saw two dogs in the yard. They were both black Cocker Spaniels, one who looked freakishly like Lucky (except he was not nearly as cute and had four legs and two eyes – boring). I stopped to check them out. We all handle things differently, and someone else might have found it too painful to stop and say “Hi ,” But, for me, seeing these two dogs running, playing and barking brought me comfort and made me smile. Maybe they reminded me of a healthy Lucky before tumors and diseases and old age.

I just picked up Lucky’s remains. For now I am keeping them close by on his empty bed, beside me.

IMAG1035

That’s a small amount of remains for a 22 lb. doggie. Morbid? I don’t know. Depressing? Sure. It feels right for the moment. The box is sweet, but doesn’t suit who he was. Need to find another urn or something for his ashes. Picking them up somehow made it all the more final. The assistant’s voice choked up as she said, “I know he had a long and good life.” “Yes,” I said through tears. “He did.”

The water in his bowl was full on Saturday. Now it is evaporating and for some reason the stupid disappearing of that water pisses me off. I feel like that symbolizes him leaving us for real. Weird how you find meaning in odd stuff when you lose someone.

Every day is a tiny bit better. The worst is forgetting and expecting him to be there when he’s not.  Sometimes it all seems surreal and I’m reminded that grieving is such a process. The thing is, grief does not have to be about losing a pet or person. It can be about non living things like:

  • The inability to run due to injury
  • Moving away from a place
  • A relationship ending
  • Getting laid off
  • Receiving a scary diagnosis

It all counts as a major grief/loss and we move through it similarly (stages here). It’s not linear though. You might bounce back and forth between stages for a long time. If I had to pinpoint, I’d say I skipped ahead pretty quickly to stage four:

Depression – Bloody hell. This is really happening. I feel sad. No shit! Is my reaction appropriate for the circumstances? Hell yes. So, I take it in, sit with it, make no apologies.

Although last night I was in stage three:

Bargaining –  What if I had done it differently? If only I had done it differently. Can't we just go back in time and forget this whole thing? I have to be careful here to not blame myself. Let the guilt go. I did my best with the information I had at the time.

Someday I’ll find myself at five:

Acceptance – It happened. That doesn’t mean I have to like it, but it happened. I’ve now got a new reality and one that will take time to adjust to.  Sometimes this just means having more good days than bad ones.

There you go. Textbook Psych 101.  What a fun past few days it’s been. Maybe I’ll go fill up the water bowl.

What kind of grief/loss do you find on your plate right now?

SUAR

56 comments:

  1. If it makes you feel better, fill up that water bowl. Whatever it takes for a moment of comfort.

    When I lost my 14 year old dog, I would bring his ashes into the bedroom every night for at least a month. That's where he had slept and it made me feel better.

    One day, one moment at a time.

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  2. I've been away from my email for awhile and this is the first of your blog that I opened up. So sorry to read that Lucky is gone. You gave him such a wonderful life and I know he returned your love in so many ways.

    I totally understand your water bowl comment. My carpet would easily show an impression of my cats little paw prints, I couldn't vacuum the carpet for 2 weeks after she passed, could not bear not seeing her little paw prints anymore.

    Hugs to you.

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  3. The grief that's on my plate has changed since I commented on your original post about losing Lucky. At that time, I was grieving the loss of one cat (Willie) and nursing his sick litter mate, Lucy. I now find myself grieving them both, as I buried Lucy next to Willie just yesterday. Everything you are saying, I am nodding my head in sad solidarity. I, too, forget and then remember. That's the worst. We will get through it! Hugs to you and yours!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am so sorry. We can hang in there together. Hugs to you as well.

      Delete
  4. Just catching up with your blog after my horrendous race on Sunday (that's what I'm mourning--but your posts about Lucky have put that in its proper place).

    I'm so sorry that you've lost Lucky. I'm glad I got to meet him if only briefly--I thought he was very sweet. I went through this when my beloved whippet Billy got into antifreeze when I was 15. I stood by the table at the vet weeping hugely while they put him down--he was only four years old and full of life--he used to sleep in my bed with me--imagine a teenager and a dog with legs like sticks together in a twin bed and you get the idea!

    We still tell stories about Billy (and the numerous other dogs we had before him and since). You know that over time, you'll remember the funny moments more than this sadness. You gave a little creature a good life! I hope that's a comfort too.

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  5. Your posts about Lucky have really touched me. We lost our 16 year old dog in January. While I spend a great deal more time in the acceptance stage these days, I still sometimes drift into other stages, often for no apparent reason. I believe people who love pets do so with full knowledge that we'll eventually face the pain of goodbye, but we love them anyway because the joy they bring us in life is so worth it. Hang in there!

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  6. This post really touched me. I am currently in the process of dealing with my health. I never would have thought at 24 years old I would know things about blood thinners and blood clots in lungs, but I do now. My fitness went from 5-6x a workouts to nothing. I have cried so much not being able to just go to gym and run. I want to feel strong again. I want to feel like myself again. I am having a bitch of a time getting out of the "anger" phase. Mad at myself for taking birth control, for going on vacation in a long car ride, for putting myself at risk. I need to forgive myself, I really do.

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  7. Grieving the loss of many years...loss of availability to my kids and spouse, for example...due to illness and chronic pain. Therapy is a beautiful thing :)

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  8. I keep writing comments and deleting them. So, I'll just say that I am sorry, and know exactly how you feel.

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  9. We lost our dog this past weekend as well. The worst is definitely getting up in the morning and coming home from work when she is not there. We get her ashes back tomorrow. We rearranged the living room and that seemed to help. I'm planning to try a scrapbook to be able to preserve the memories. We took lots of photos over the past 2 1/2 years.

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  10. I lost my sweet Harley Dude one month ago today. Tomorrow would have been our four year "annifursary," a day I celebrated as the day I brought him into my home and heart.

    I can't tell you it gets easier--perhaps we just get a little more numb to how hard it hurts. I can tell you that one month out, I can still burst into horrified tears at how it all happened. Harley was a young cat, and I had to have him put down because the little moron swallowed a needle. I had no idea for over a WEEK. I still feel guilty, which makes the grief even harder.

    Here's the post I wrote the day I lost him--your own post about Lucky's last day was so poignant to me because I know all too well how awful it is.

    http://megstrueadventures.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-hardest-thing.html

    ReplyDelete
  11. My cat's remains sit perched on my mantle...I got her when I first moved to Colorado and I was all alone, and she went through 7 moves with us and always was such a great cat. Miss her dearly...and she's been gone well over 10 years. I suspect our now cat won't make it that much longer, he has some "issues"....the kids are so attached. It just sucks!

    Big hugs to you, Beth!

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  12. One of our kittens didn't show up one morning, and both his little brother and our whole family is missing him.

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  13. Today is my Nana's birthday, she would've been 88. She died April '11 and I'm still reeling. I went for a run this morning and ended up at the graveyard where she's buried. I bought a little plant with my emergency taxi money (which I always carry, just in case!) and left it on her grave. It's a horrible morning over here in Dublin, Ireland, so there wasn't anyone around to see me have a good cry as I wished my Nana a very happy birthday. And because it was such a horrible morning, there was no one around to see me blow my first ever snot rocket as I ran home - tears and running don't go well together!

    Thinking of you and your family, hopefully your happy memories of Lucky will help you all cope with your loss x

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  15. I still am guilty of filling those water bowls. I had two dogs that loved me no matter how I loved them in return. They always forgave my bad moods and never gave me attitude in return. I still miss them but I am so glad they were part of our family!

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  16. I spend every day ping ponging between 4 and 5 over the end of a relationship. It seems trivial compared to the loss of a family member, but the permanence of losing someone that is still out there without you might make it even harder to accept sometimes. Boo hoo, right? Anyway, I appreciate your sentiments in these last few posts. Happy running.

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  17. Missing my dog, Napoleon, I put down in August. He was born without eyes. He was dependent on me when walking to let him know to step up or down or go around, etc. The following weekend when I went out for a run on my regular route, there in one of the yards was an old, old dog just soaking up the sun. I had never seen him in that yard before and have not seen him since. It was awesome! I find myself missing my big boy right now, but I just know it was the right thing to do at the right time.

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  18. I had a dog growing up that was practically my best friend. She slept with me every single night and never left my side. She was the greatest dog I ever had. She passed while I was in high school from old age/kidney failure and it was an extremely heartbreaking experience (first animal to leave me ever). This was 13 years ago.

    Whether you believe or not, a few years ago my mom begged me to see a medium out of fun. This man said everyone has a guide in life and they are usually hanging by your side. I expected it to be my grandfather who had just recently passed, but to my surprise it was my dog. He knew strange details about her that made me think he was speaking truth. He said she walks by my side everyday and stays with me at night. (to fight whatever lurks in my closet of course). So remember even though Lucky isnt here with you in the physical sense, he is with you in other ways.

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  19. I am mourning a lot of things right now including a lingering 9 month injury that has forced me to be a non runner. I am trying to find other hobbies to keep my mind occupied but it is difficult

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  20. You're right about grieving the inability to run during an injury. Ive been injured two months now and i am sitting at the pt's office about to try anyone pinpoint what the FUCK is going on! I have seven dimples on my ass and my tummy is expanding from the seasonal treats and mexican food and i cant get out and run it off!!! I miss my stress relief! I miss my morning mojo!! Dear Lord ehen will this end?!?!

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  21. Wow. your posts are really hitting home right now. I've had a rough month, a lost nephew (in the woods, found alive and safe 44 hours later) my grandmother passed away and now, to top it off, my 18 year old goldfish (yes, goldfish) is sick and I don't think he will make it much longer. I knew the day was coming but just can't deal with one more thing. i am done. Thanks for putting your stories and emotions out there, I can totally relate and it makes me feel like less of a freak.
    xoxo to you and your family

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I dont mean to be rude or trivialize your pain but how do you know when a goldfish isn't feeling well?

      Delete
  22. When we lost our first Irish Wolfhound, my husband asked our kids, "Isn't it cool that we can love another species?" Perspective of a "Trekkie". Certainly not something I would have thought of.

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  23. So sorry for your loss, I can't even imagine!! I tear up if my hubs even mentions that we will one day lose our dog...

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  24. Beth, so sorry for your loss, reading your blog has me in tears! Air Hugs to you!!

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  25. I say keep the water bowl filled if it makes you feel better. I kept my dog's water bottle filled for at least a month after she passed away. Her ashes are in a nice wooden box on top of the mantle and her collar and a paw print impression taken at the emergency vet are on top. Maybe morbid to some people, but I think it's the right place for her. Grief is hard. It hits you like a ton of bricks when you lease expect it--like knowing that Lucky is gone but still expecting to see him or hear him through the house. I don't think the pain of losing a loved pet ever completely goes away, but at some point you will find yourself laughing and remembering the good times you shared with Lucky more than crying over the loss. Don't beat yourself up. Lucky's spirit is still with you trying to comfort you though I'm sure right now that might not be comforting to hear since he is not physically present. Hugs to you and your family.

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  26. My Buca who passed away almost 4 weeks ago loved to ride in the car with her head sticking out. My husband used to put her in the car and ride around the loop in the neighborhood a few times. Neighbors probably thought he was a freak but she loved it. When I picked her up 3 weeks ago after saying goodbye to her I put the wooden box on the front seat and opened the window wide and rode around the loop a few times crying the whole time and talking to her.
    Lucky will always be with you as I feel Buca will always be. Hugs to you and your family.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Must be terrible. I'm so sorry for your loss. My sister had to put her dog down two years ago. Although she waited awhile, and I know you can't replace people or dogs, but her decision to rescue a dog, has really helped. I hope you find peace in whatever you do - even if that's filling up the water bowl.

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  28. Hi Beth,

    I'm new to your blog and am so sorry about Lucky. Family is family - human or animal.

    And you're right, even when you know the reasons/stages behind grief and depression, it still sucks.

    Thinking about you and your family.

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  29. oh beth!!! i have been meaning to comment here over the past few days! i am so sorry for your loss,i know exactly how you feel,and everything you feel is normal,justified and necessary!!!
    i think you are doing a great job handling things the best you can-just try to hang in there,ii does get better!
    my lucky lady has been gone 10 years now and it is still hard sometimes-she was a lot like lucky with the tumors and such. AND the day i put her down she was having a "good" day-not coughing and sounding like she was drowning in her own fluids...oh wow i still remember it all so vividly and each time i remember,it is still hard to think about without tears!the worst was the car ride home-i chose to bury her so i had to drive in the car with her body in the front seat,covered with her favorite blanket....
    *sigh*
    but just a couple months ago,i saw a dog who looked just like her at a local 5k race-i blogged about it here:
    http://melissacunninghamifpapro.blogspot.com/2012/07/6wk-pp-5k-race-and-end-of-week-2.html

    anyways,ive rambled and made myself cry-i do hope you are able to find comfort during the grieving process-you are not alone and i am sending big hugs your way!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I thought of you reading this today....I hope it helps!

    http://dogingtonpost.com/a-memo-from-your-new-puppy/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much. What a wonderful thing for me to read right now. Has me in tears. Again!

      Delete
  31. Grief is just so weird, not linear at all for most, it seems. The holidays have me grieving the family members who are gone (my mother, father, sister, mother-in-law, and father-in-law particularly). My mother and MIL shared Christmas Eve as their birthday, and my FIL passed away on Christmas Day. Even though all have been gone at least a few years now, sometimes the grief crops up out of nowhere, not with the intensity of the initial loss. Do what you need to in order to process it; pets are family, period.

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  32. I lost my grandmother about 2 weeks ago. For some reason, losing a pet has always been much harder for me than losing my grandparents was. Maybe because I was with them every day? They are so ingrained in my every day routine that it is very noticeable when they are gone. I have always gotten a new dog fairly quickly after. I know some people don't think that is fair or good for the grieving process, but the new dog is a good distraction. Sometimes they make you miss your old dog even more because their personalities can be so different.

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    Replies
    1. I think you hit the nail on the head. They are so ingrained in our routines and you are with them all day everday from meal time in the morning until the last time you let them outside at night. It's weird to have all of that JUST GONE.

      Delete
  33. I've had my Olive since she was 5 weeks old. She'll be 7 this Christmas. I can't even let thoughts of her passing into my brain or my eye-holes water, so my heart aches for your loss.

    Right now I have so much on my plate I could barf. I deal with it by running in this gorgeous Tucson air as much as I possibly can, and by adding a second glass of wine to my evening repertoire. Amen.

    Keep his water bowl full. Sleep in his doggy bed. Heck, sleep with his ashes! I fell asleep next to my dead cat for about three hours after we had him put down. I woke up with dried snot and fur stuck to my face. Do whatever you need to do during this grieving period. There is no right or wrong. As you can obviously see by the fact that I slept with my dead cat. Amen again.

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  34. Just read your post about Lucky's last night and day. I'm really sorry for your loss, I totally understand how you feel and you have no need to justify yourself to anyone. I'm glad you got to spend a lovely night with him before he was put to sleep.

    I've been reading your blog for a while now and I love your honesty and humour. This is my first comment, sorry it's under such sad circumstances :(

    Just do what you need to help you come to terms with your loss. I'm sure running will help. It always does for me x

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  35. If I lived nearby, I would totally come in and make sure the water bowl stays full for awhile!!!

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  36. I have to share my story. We lost our Golden Retriever (Junior) about 3 years ago. Such a great dog, loved the snow and loved the heat in FL when we finally made it down here. I had to take him to the emergency vet one night because he was having a stroke. Thankfully the vet was a native american. He talked to me about the circle of life....I was bawling like a baby at this point. Had to call Hubby who was in CA on business to tell him what I was about to do. Junior was with us for 15 years. Fast forward 2 years. We are talking about making getting another dog, just not sure. Get an email from a friend about a dog left at a ball park. Notes put up but no response so they are offering her for adoption. We took "Daisy" over night to try it out. I looked into her eyes and they were the same eyes as Junior. It could all be in my head but everytime I look at Daisy I think of Junior.

    I wish your family the best. We love our furbabies!!

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  37. I am so sorry. I know this is so hard. Like everything else, it takes time. You are so strong.

    I am grieving the decision to end a four year relationship. It's not easy but I'm sitting with it. I'm also dealing with the stress of trying to move out on my own when I can't afford anything here in San Diego. The stress only makes the grief harder to deal with.

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  38. I lost my dog back in April this year. I'm still suffering. Although I now accept he has gone, I haven't 'got over it'. I feel your pain and my thoughts are with you.
    Alistair (www.runskidrum.com)

    ReplyDelete
  39. We lost our Riley back in March and I can totally relate to what you are going through. When we got Riley's ashes, I was strangely comforted because at least I had a part of him back at home. His ashes are still sitting in a beautiful wooden box in the middle of our mantle with his picture on top. And I still have fluttering moments where I'll hear something that sounds like Riley's feet on the floor or the sound of him rolling over and making a little groan. And if even for a moment there are still times when I expect him to greet me at our back door. He was such a wonderful friend and so very good at giving unconditional love. It's a tough loss I know, and while the tears dry up (mostly) your heart will ache for a long time to come. What a blessing to have had that sort of love though - right?

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  40. We lost our black lab, Tupelo, on Christmas Day last year. There is NEVER a good day to lose a loved one but Christmas was so hard for me last year, not to mention the kids. The constant reminders are like little knives in the heart -- opening the door and she's not there. Ugh.

    Sending love to you all...sadly, so many of us can relate! :(

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  41. We have all the remains of every wonderful cat who spent part of their lives with us, some here only for a short time because neglect and illness took such a toll on their little bodies before they came to rest with us, and some that shared our lives for more than 20 years. I take comfort in having them and I celebrate the ones who came after and share our lives now. Losing them is definitely the worst part of loving a pet. I hope you find peace and comfort in your memories of him.

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  42. So sorry for your loss......I am sitting here reading yours posts (which I was a bit behind on) and crying. I fear the day that my sweet little pug Lucy will have to face the end. But I can tell you one thing, I am going to let her eat as many cookies and McGriddles (or cheese in her case, which she loves) as she wants on that last day. Stay strong and remember that you ALWAYS have the memories and those can never be taken away. :)

    ReplyDelete
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