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Cowgirl19

Mourning my dog and my parents' dog at the same time

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Hi: 

Over the past two weeks, both my dog and my parents' dog (the dog I grew up with) had to be put to sleep. In both cases, it was the humane thing to do, to prevent any more suffering, but I never expected both of them to go at the same time and it is so, so hard. I don't think I've cried this hard in ages, and my apartment just feels empty -- I feel empty, for that matter. I saw a piece of my dog's kibble on the floor this morning, for example, and just lost it. I can't stop crying, my sleep is rubbish, and I've really been struggling at work: I work in a hospital and I feel like I'm so consumed by my own grief that I haven't been there for my patients and their families in the way that I should be as a medical professional. (I haven't broken down at work or anything, I'm still holding strong, but it's really hard most days.)

I know, with time and tears, that this will pass, that grief is normal and healthy. But it feels like a living, slow-moving nightmare. And because this is my first experience with pet euthanasia, I have no idea how long the grieving process "usually" takes (I realize we all move at our own speeds). If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and for any advice you might have.
 
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I'm sorry you find yourself in this situation, it's the hardest thing in the world (to me)...my dog has cancer and not long to live, I will be in your shoes all too soon and I'm finding anticipatory grief also hard to do.

I've lost several animals over my lifetime and it's not easy no matter how it occurs.  Just as our relationships are unique, so is our grief, so there's not a set timeline.  It will be a gradual adjustment but we continue to love and miss them.  

Your describing it as a living, slow-moving nightmare, that pretty much sums it up.  A nightmare we can't stop.  I can't imagine living without my dog, he's been my companion for 10 1/2 years, I don't know how to do life without him.  I've only been without a dog for a few months and I don't relish it, this has been the one I've been closest to as I was living alone with him.  I imagine you can relate, living in an apt. with yours.

Just hang in there, when you come home, allow yourself your tears, it's part of the processing.  Maybe you could write your feelings in a journal?  Have you done something to memorialize your dog, like a shadow box with picture, collar, favorite toy?  Like a place of honor in your home.  Sometimes it helps.  I'm sorry it hurts so bad.  (((hugs)))

 

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Thanks for your kind response. Anticipatory grief is indeed really, really hard, and I'm sorry you're going through it right now. But I am sure you are doing a wonderful job of making your dog's last days filled with love and comfort :)

Right now, I am thinking of having some pictures of my dogs printed and framed, so that they can "greet" me when I come home. Yes, the apartment feels so, so empty, it's horrid. Right now I am living overseas due to work and my husband is back in the US, which makes it even harder. He's been wonderfully supportive but there's only so much you can do over the phone, you know? And what makes it hard too is that my dog here was a rescue, I was planning to bring her back to the US, and now that's not possible. She was younger than my parents' dog and I thought we had years and years left. I know with rescues things can unfold on a different timeframe than the one you originally wanted, because they have already usually gone through so much by the time they come to us. And while I think it was still the right decision to put her to sleep, to prevent any more suffering, it's just a whole bundle of sadness wrapped up in itself. I'm grateful to have known both dogs but this is so, so hard, it hurts with a fierceness I couldn't have imagined before.

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2 hours ago, Cowgirl19 said:

I'm grateful to have known both dogs but this is so, so hard, it hurts with a fierceness I couldn't have imagined before.

Welcome to the world of bereaved animal lovers, my dear. Seldom do we realize how much it hurts to lose a beloved animal companion until it happens to us. I too am very sorry for your loss, and I hope you will recognize your grief as the price you're paying for the loving relationship you had with your dog. Know too, that death may end a life, but love does not die. The love you shared with your precious dog will stay in your heart forever, just as long as you keep her memory alive. I hope you'll share some of those pictures with us once you have them printed.

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20 hours ago, MartyT said:

I hope you'll share some of those pictures with us once you have them printed.

Me too!

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Thank you all so much :) Right now, it just hurts too much to mention their names or look at their photos. But I hope and pray that in time it will be possible. Right now it is just a physical ache, sometimes sharp, sometimes dull, but always there.

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I know...when my husband died, I made a shrine in our bedroom...then it hurt too much to see his picture, I took them down...put them up, took them down.  Finally they were up to stay.  Do whatever brings you comfort or at least doesn't hurt so unbearably.   (((hugs))) 

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My condolences on the loss of your husband. I'm still toying with the shrine idea myself... maybe in a week, or two, or three... right now I find myself talking to my dog when I get home from work, not sure if that's normal? I'm just so used to having her pitter-pattering around, and the apartment is so empty without her even though of course she couldn't talk back!

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My dear, I assure you that it's okay to find yourself talking to your dog when you get home from work ~ or at any other time, for that matter. Of course she can't talk back, but neither could she do that when she was here in physical form. Many ~ if not most ~ of us continue to talk to our departed loved ones (both animal and human) and who's to say that they cannot hear us? Whatever brings you peace and comfort is the only guideline you need as you navigate this uncharted territory of grief.

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If I can talk to my husband all the time (and it's been 14 years) I assure you there's nothing wrong with talking to your dog!  My dog is dying and I'm sure I'll be talking to him when he goes too!  You'd be surprised some of the things we do to keep connection with them...it doesn't have to make sense to anyone but you and it's perfectly normal!  We MISS them!

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