It has Been 71 Days
It has been 71 days since my soul mate, Nix, died. I miss him more every day. Time does not necessarily heal all wounds. Pet bereavement is a very real thing.
I am sure I get too “personal” sometimes when I blog, but I also know that when I suffer or when I go through things in my life, I am not alone. There are others out there suffering thinking they are alone too.
I say “alone” because a lot of people just don’t understand, WHY you could or would miss animal to the point of severe depression. They don’t realize the bond we had with our animals and how each moment without them hurts from deep within our soul. You know how the add for anti-depressants says “Depression Hurts”… well, it certainly does, it can effect everything in your life.
In the past 3 years I have: gotten divorced, lost my father, my mother, my grandmother, my first cat that I got when I grew up moved away and two of my very special dogs (who were like my children).
I don’t have children of my own, so I can only suppose that, that makes my bond with my animals deeper and their loss harder and my pet bereavement worse.
Admittedly I have had a tough couple of years, which I realize adds to my depression.
But my Nix was with me through many years of struggles, he was there when I left my husband in the middle of the night so he wouldn’t kill me, he was there when my father died, we mourned together when Snitch, his best friend, died.
- His tail spun circles when I cam home from work or from errands or even if I had just walked down to the end of the driveway to get the mail.
- He slept on my feet, and warned me when I was going to get a terrible migraine.
- He worried about me when I was sick or when I was sad.
- If someone yelled at me (my ex-husband) he would put his little body in between the two of us.
- He pressed his muzzle to my face when I cried, and let me sob and snot in his fur.
- He listened to me complain.
- He kept me safe, when a gang of drunk men came up to me on the beach one day, it was his fangs and growls that made them realize they might not want interaction with me.
- He didn’t care what I looked like and was happy to hang out with me even if I didn’t put makeup on.
- He refused to leave my side. When we would go hiking, he was never more than 6 feet from me, he would run back and forth and always make sure I was coming. If I diverted he was always with me. If I got tired, he pretended he was tired too.
- He would not allow anyone to take him from me. He would not get aggressive, but if someone put a leash on him, he would put himself behind my me in “herding dog mode” and he would lock his legs and refuse to move.
- Even if he knew I was going, he would remain behind my legs until I committed to going outside.
- If I left on a short vacation, he would stare out the window looking for me for days, and when he was young he would refuse to eat.
- I once went to Ireland for a Bon Jovi concert, but I could only be gone a few days because I knew he wouldn’t eat much while I was gone. I was actually in the air travelling longer than I was on the ground in Ireland. But, he was always worth it!
We were inseparable
I have never loved anything like I loved him and I have never been loved like he loved me.
I am not sure I will ever have that kind of unconditional love again. It was the kind of thing they write books and movies about.
He was absolutely, special and not your average dog.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my current dogs (all 3 of them) and they are the reason I get up in the morning.
But they have no problem going places without me, they would never miss a meal because of me, and on a hiking trial, it is all about being lead dog… no one comes to check on me or would notice if a bear was sneaking up behind me 😉 They are dogs.
Nix was a part of my soul, that I was blessed to have in dog form.
So I find it hard, still to get up in the mornings.
I can’t sleep at night, although my strongest desire is to go to bed so that hopefully I can see him in my dreams.
There is a moment in every morning as I lay somewhere between waking and sleeping that in my mind, he is still laying at my feet and it breaks my heart each day when I realize that is not and will never be reality.
My husband doesn’t understand.
He can’t figure out why I can’t just get on with life, he was just a dog, and he becomes angry if he catches me mourning.
So I pretend.
I pretend I am okay.
I pretend that I still have desires in life.
I pretend that part of myself did not die that day.
And, then at night I can’t sleep; I often cry and I feel alone.
One night I got up. I was more destitute than normal and I wanted to talk to someone and I needed some pet loss counseling.
It was 2 am and it is ironic that support groups, pet support groups, pet bereavement sites and even suicide websites and chat rooms keep normal working hours.
Sure, I could have called a hotline, but I hate talking on the phone and I just wanted to chat I wasn’t truly in danger of hurting myself.
That is when I found The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement and it actually helped. For help click here
Although their chat rooms also have moderation and specific hours, I knew maybe it would help to talk to others that were experiencing the same things.
And IT DID!
I realized I wasn’t the only one.
I wasn’t even the only one who’s friends and families didn’t understand or support their grief.
It was absolutely eye opening and comforting to realize I wasn’t alone.
Others felt the same kind of bond and the same kind of loss.
And, I got some helpful advice.
Things that May Help with Your Mourning
- Write down and journal the things that you remember and stories from your life together. It helps to have warm, fuzzy stories to go back and reread at a later time.
- Journal your feelings; it helps to get them out and get rid of them. Just writing down your anger, rage, sadness and disappointment and help you let go and get some rest.
- Make a memorial if you can. I have tried doing this a few times, but I find this one difficult. I have things gathered together and will eventually follow through, but the finality of it is hard for me right now.
- However making a memorial shadow box, really helped me when I lost my Snitch. So it is about what you need and what you can handle at the time. Sometimes we don’t realize what helps until we try.
- Try and do “normal” things during the day, things that once brought you joy, and follow a schedule. Schedules like when you get up and go to bed and regular sleep patterns can help your body adjust.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
I truly benefited from my time spent chatting with the moderators and other grieving pet owners and no one judged me or asked how I could miss an animal so much. They allowed me to share my stories and we all reveled in the lives of the ones we had lost. And, I didn’t have to get out of my PJs to join in.
And, I recognize at 71 days and thanks to my series of past losses, it is time for me to seek more help.
I was always told as a kid that psychotherapy, and counseling and depression made you weak.
But I believe getting help for yourself when you feel destitute makes you strong.
I know that how I feel is not how I want to feel, I want to feel better but I may need some help with this one!
If you need help find it, because each day you have is a gift and life should be enjoyed.
For more help; click these links http://aplb.org/index.php
24 hour pet grief counseling by phone http://www.petloss.com/phones.htm
There may even be support groups in your area, if you are wondering, contact your veterinarian and they may be able to help you find one!
And tell me how you have found solace after such a loss and perhaps we can all help one another.
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.