Losing a pet is always a difficult thing to have happen but it just takes time to get over the pain.
The First Blow
It’s hard to describe what grief looks like as it’s different for everyone. Recently my family suffered the loss of our family dog. He had been with us for close to 18 years so we had obviously grown very attached to him.
It happened on Friday the 5th of February 2021 and I still haven’t managed to go a day without crying. It’s a loss I’ve never felt before as I have never lost anyone close to me before.
The fact that it hurts so much to lose him just means that we had a huge connection.
We had to have him put to sleep due to his old age and a few other medical reasons but during Coronavirus things are a little bit different. We had to leave him at the door of the vets. We couldn’t be in the room with him as the procedure happened.
My family and I couldn’t help but feel as if we had abandoned him. I’ve always been a firm believer that you should be in the room with your pet as they have their last moment. After 18 years he was owed that.
Alas, we were not allowed.
Pets can Impact your Life
I think that’s partly why I’m finding it so hard to move on. The image of him on the table searching for us and only seeing the unfamiliar faces of the vet surgeons sits behind my eyes at 5am as I try to sleep. This causes my chest to feel heavy but also me to feel a huge empty hole where my pet used to be.
Losing a pet is like losing a member of the family and I’ll fight anyone who disagrees. If you can have an animal depend on you for years and not fall head over heels in love with them then why do you have a pet?
I have had my first rabbit for a year and a half and to tell you that I would defend her with my life is an understatement. My second rabbit I’ve had for less than a year and my love for her is just as strong and vivid. It helps to know that they love me back just as strongly. They sleep on the bed with me, they lick me which is grooming to them (this means they see me as a sort of alpha), whenever someone new comes into my room they will alert me by stomping their feet but when they see that I am okay with the person entering my room they will come over and inspect the new person for themselves.
What I’m saying is that pets can love you just as deeply as you love them and it can be very difficult to lose that kind of companionship.
Your Family Members are experiencing the Same Emotions
The worst part for me was watching my mother having a crying breakdown at the door to the vets as she clung to my dog in a tight hug. Her final goodbye to the dog that had been following her around everywhere for 18 years. She would no longer fall asleep or wake up to his beautiful little smiling face and it was hard to see that reaction.
I’m twenty two years old but seeing my mother crying is never NEVER okay, I want her to be happy and healthy always. Seeing her upset was like a knife to my heart.
I saw my brother crying as well but his composure was much more reserved, I knew he was very upset but he was trying to keep it together for me and my mother. I think he knew that I wouldn’t be able to handle seeing him crying either.
If you haven’t guessed I’m a very sensitive girl, I’ll cry at most things pretty easily.
One time my brother came into the house after taking my other dog for a walk in the heaviest rain I’ve seen. He was howling and carrying his passed out dog up the stairs yelling for mum to help him.
When I heard him crying I immediately ran out to see what was wrong even though at this point I was about 18 and had no clue how to help.
He was rushed to the vet and he was back to full health at 9am the next day. Seeing your dog walking out of the vet's room with a big happy face and wagging tail is the best thing ever, especially when the last time you saw him he was seizing and passed out.
This article isn’t a how-to guide of how to get over your pet dying, it’s a way for me to write my feelings down on the situation that has happened to me. A way to try and process my feelings and give my first pet a way to live on through my writing.
It's not easy
As my mother said on the day, driving him to the vet was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do and I agree. I offered to drive in place of her but I don’t think I was actually going to be able as I cried the whole way there, maybe I just wanted the drive as a final distraction.
I think the fact that I had a pre-planned week off work was a blessing in disguise too because I would be sitting at work close to tears at all moments, all it would take was one little comment and I would have been set off.
The best thing I’ve found is to be constantly distracted, I had been taking a break from writing because this current lockdown had affected my mental health quite a bit and I’ve started back now as a coping mechanism. I’ve also started rewatching an old series that I used to be obsessed with, I’ve been listening to music more often and spending more time with my family and remaining pets. It’s important for them to have the best life possible now because they have also lost a member of the family.
My mother is scared to leave my other dog in the house alone in case he howls because he misses his companion.
If you want a piece of advice from me the only thing I’d be able to tell you is to invest yourself in work or school and keep yourself nice and distracted. You’ll always miss your pet but it won’t hurt forever. I’m still waiting for the day when I can make it through without bursting into tears. Life feels at a stand still currently but we are all doing our best. I’ve been doing my best to ensure that my family have been eating and comforting my mother when I see that she’s upset.
As a family we will get through it together. Rest in peace boy, we will love and miss you forever.