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I keep re-living the last day, the last half hour ...


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It has been six weeks since I lost my girl, and I still keep seeing the last day, the last moments. Finding fresh things to regret, looking at her in the crate, why didn’t I pull her out and hold her a few more seconds? Stuff like that...the guilt still lives...is it just time that will help me stop staying stuck on the last day?

Are there other things I should be doing, other than self care? Do I try to resist all the ruminating about her last day or let it keep playing until it eventually quiets down? If I do that, will it ever quiet down? I’m stuck. What’s the best way to handle it? 

Does anybody have any tips, things that have helped you?

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What helped me when my Tibetan terrier Beringer died was to throw myself into creating a memory book ~ I gathered all the photographs I'd taken of him over the 14 years he graced us with his presence. I selected the best ones, added captions, and later obtained copies for myself and my four grandchildren (all of whom knew and loved this dear dog). There  are photo places online that guide you in how to make a book like this ~ I happened to use Snapfish, but Shutterfly is another one ~ and since I am not a computer wizard, I was amazed at how easy it was. The project took me several days to complete, and I realized as I was doing it that I was processing my pain and to an extent, coming to terms with the loss of him. I also gathered together all the sympathy notes and email messages I'd received and placed them in a notebook so I could read and re-read all of them. I made a point to write down all the crazy, silly, funny and amazing things that I could remember Beringer doing, so I wouldn't lose those memories. And I made a long list of all the silly names we used to call him (terms of endearment for sure!) That does not mean that suddenly I was fine ~ It took many weeks and months for the pain in my soul to diminish gradually ~ and I still miss him with all my heart. But today I'm so grateful that he lit up my life at a time when I needed him most. ♥️ 

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I agree Marty. I just got a nice framed picture of Mango that I got online and was looking at Shutterfly today. They have a sale on picture books.

I definitely still have moments some days where I think about that night I brought him in. It's a traumatic moment. This might be a weird analogy and I don't know if you remember the 80's movie War Games with Matthew Broderick. But basically at the end of the movie this artificial intelligence computer is about to launch all these nuclear missiles at Russia to 'win the game'. So Matthew Broderick tells it to play Tic Tac Toe which everyone who plays after a while realizes isn't a game you can win if you play it right. And then the computer eventually realizes that there is no winner in a nuclear war either because everyone destroys each other. Anyway the point is as many times as I think of that last day there was never a way to win. Letting him go a week longer, petting him more, talking to him more, etc. None of that would have really made things better.

Time as they say heals all wounds. I'm certainly not a therapist but I would say if you think about it for a little while each day still that's probably normal. If it is preoccupying a lot of your day though you need to work on getting your mind focused on other things. Whether that's remembering good memories of Gracie, reading a book, watching TV, or working on other hobbies. I'd also say you know if you feel you are getting better or not. With me I know the first two weeks I was very emotional, suffered mentally and physically, and it definitely was affecting the rest of my life. Now I still think about him every day, but I'm able to enjoy myself at work or home. I'm still angry that he's gone. Not angry with him or others. Just at the way nature works I guess.

 

 

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20 hours ago, MartyT said:

What helped me when my Tibetan terrier Beringer died was to throw myself into creating a memory book

I wrote stories about my Arlie (and Kitty later on too), special memories of his life!   

 

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BTW, beautiful picture of Mango!

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On 10/2/2020 at 7:36 PM, GMS said:

I agree Marty. I just got a nice framed picture of Mango that I got online and was looking at Shutterfly today.

Gregg, I SO love the picture of Mango, it's a beautiful tribute. The other day I looked up one of my old photo accounts online, trying to find any older photos of Gracie. 18 years is a long time and sadly, some accounts came and went. I recall one company deleted my photos without warning.  I found one photo...only one, but I'm thankful for it. She was fat and fluffy, she was around 4 years old at that time. I looked at it and cried and then put it away again...someday I will be able to look at it again. For now, it's just nice knowing I still have it.

You are right about the movie Wargames and no good answer. I've tried to play my regrets through, "what if I did that instead of this?" but for every scenario, I still come out sad at the end because the ending sucked. I am now trying to remind myself that I was rescuing her, with the decision I made that day. I was ending her pain and discomfort. I had tried to pet her the day before and she didn't really react, so she was unhappy and not enthused about being touched. It's like you mentioned to someone else here, that pets often like to be alone when they are not feeling well. So why do I still regret so deeply that I didn't pet her more, before the first shot? Maybe that is just me imputing human thoughts to her. The Vet did pet her, so that’s something. It would've mattered to me, but probably not her. I knew she didn't like being at the Vet so I wanted that to end for her, as soon as possible. Every second counted.  I just wasn't comprehending that this was my last chance. Why can't I keep it straight in my head that no matter what, she is not suffering now?  My brain is stuck...I want so badly to get it over that memory. But as you said, it was "trauma" absolutely trauma...and I need to show myself some compassion and realize I was doing the best I could...and in actuality, putting her comfort completely ahead of my own.

I have a Trauma Counselor and we met once on Zoom but then she had a family emergency and took two weeks off. I don't know realistically how she can help me, beyond things I can do myself. So I'm trying things just to see what might help. Tapping, mindfulness, new avenues I'd never explored before. The thoughts come to me here and there during the day...the fact that they keep returning is very disturbing to me. But it's not all day long...like you said, I am able to see that I am improving...just impatient, I guess. I want the results of memories softening as time passes, without having to wait out the time. I have asked to join two pet loss support groups from my area.  They both have one meeting a month, this time it's on October 7th. One finishes and the other starts, so I will join them both and see if they are helpful. 

I went to visit my Mom's new cat and she rubbed her face against mine...it's nice to know I can visit a cat, while I try to work out my feelings and am not yet ready to get another. My friend that lost her dog six weeks before my Gracie, she is considering the idea of fostering a dog. I understand it, she's very lonely and it could really help her. She's not ready yet - but it's on her mind...and I will be happy and celebrate with her when she's ready. Hopefully she will find a good match and end up adopting him/her.

Gregg, I found the book "Goodbye, Friend" and have been reading it. Thank you so much. I discovered that my local library branch has lots of e-books that can be borrowed so I have decided to see what other similar books they might have available. Sometimes it helps just to read something and let it set off tears.

 

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I learned quite some time ago that children's books about pet loss were some of the most helpful and comforting ones I could find ~ and usually the illustrations are just precious. I began collecting them for my own personal library after my cockapoo Muffin died and, like you, I was looking for something ~ anything ~ to soothe my broken heart. You might find this article helpful in finding some of them: Using Children's Books to Help with Grief. You might also go on Amazon and search for "children and pet loss" to see what is "out there" and available. ♥️

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Thank you so much, dear Marty. I will definitely check them out. Sometimes I read something, just a sentence or a phrase that really impacts me and helps somehow...you are right, I am constantly on the search to find those soothing words. I may start a collection, myself, to help others when they also need such words of comfort. Thanks again.🤗

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Thank you so much, Marty and Kay for the links. So when the thoughts come to me, or the pictures in my mind...I try to remind myself of the reasons why I chose the scenario I chose. Positive reasons why, or reminders that even if I acted differently (like Gregg mentioned) I’d still be sitting here with some guilt, simply because it’s part of what comes with the tough decision.

I’ve tried to do that for the past month (allow the memories to play, and reason on it)...So now, as I try to self nurture, find ways to remember and celebrate my girl...if those bad pictures pop in my head, should I continue to reason them out over and over again? Or is it ok to start distracting my mind to other thoughts?

I’ve been told, “thoughts that are suppressed, persist”...but I also know that when I ruminate too much on a bad thought, I feel that makes it stronger. So I don’t know what to think. Is it ok to distract now? Or not?

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Actually it is quite healhy for you to distract yourself from the pain of loss, even as you continue to mourn at other times in the course of a day. You might be interested in the research of Stroebe and Schut, whose Dual Process Model of Grief examines and acknowledges our tendency to move in and out of grief. It is normal for us on the one hand to focus on the loss and at other times to distract ourselves from the pain by focusing on thoughts and activities of daily living. Read more about this model here: The Dual Process Model and here: Grief Theory 101: The Dual Process Model of Grief 

See also Facing Another Funeral, Without 'Falling Apart'   ♥️

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I hadn't heard of that theory but I know it to be true!!  Thanks for sharing that, @MartyT.  You know, I belong to another grief site as well...it's a large one with a ton of traffic, BUT it does not have a grief counselor, let alone a moderator that reads and responds to the posts!  The only time they seem aware of anything is when one of us calls it to their attention by reporting something wrong.  I have learned so much from Marty over the years!  I just want to say how very lucky we are to have her and how much she is appreciated!!!

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Kay, Yes! I agree totally! I saw in another forum where someone said something very cruel to someone else and I couldn’t even find a way to report the post or reach anyone. That bad member left but the post was still there! It was terrible. I always appreciate hearing advice and info from Marty because I know she has a great deal of experience and knowledge. I also appreciate you, Kay! You always show concern for every post and every heart that comes here seeking comfort and help! Thank you to both of you from the bottom of my heart!🤗 I always encourage people to come here for loving care and advice.

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This site and the other one I belong to have three dots (top right of post) you click on that and can report the post.  (Used to be more visible.)  I guess that's why this site was deemed best moderated, we have Marty!  She's the ONLY one I've seen that provides such wonderful helps & resources!  Was just talking about that this morning with a friend!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi ❤️ I think I get what you feel because sometimes just remembering the last moment of my dog (I had to put her to sleep) makes me break and cry so much. I don't know if this will help you but what I usually do is look at pictures and videos of her... It's heartbreaking because it hurts so much but in a way I feel relief after seeing her and focusing on the good things, like things she was doing in the pictures or just the way she stared with her beautiful eyes. 

I'm sending you love ❤️

 

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I think guilt in grief when we've done all we knew to do is our way of trying to find a different possible outcome.  It's hard to process this grief. :(

 

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5 hours ago, paula__ said:

Hi ❤️ I think I get what you feel because sometimes just remembering the last moment of my dog (I had to put her to sleep) makes me break and cry so much. I don't know if this will help you but what I usually do is look at pictures and videos of her... It's heartbreaking because it hurts so much but in a way I feel relief after seeing her and focusing on the good things, like things she was doing in the pictures or just the way she stared with her beautiful eyes. 

I'm sending you love ❤️

 

Thank you Paula for your kind thoughts. I try to think of happy memories of my girl, as you said, those memories are also hard...but can also bring a happy feeling. I know in time I will be able to look longer at her photos. I know that even if I cry, it’s a good thing to grieve and release some stress in the body....I want to thank you so much for your love and concern. It really means a lot. Today is a particularly hard day. Hugs to you.

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1 hour ago, kayc said:

I think guilt in grief when we've done all we knew to do is our way of trying to find a different possible outcome.  It's hard to process this grief. :(

 

I agree with you, dear Kay. I know that when I try to play stuff over in my head it’s because I’m wishing for a different outcome. It’s heartbreaking to keep telling myself there is no changing anything. I know that is a part of grieving...the heart has to acknowledge what the mind already knows. It sucks. For example, I’d mentioned before that the last day happened too quickly, it felt too hurried, due to trauma for me, pandemic protocol etc...but I told a friend of mine about my regrets that it went too fast and she said, “I don’t think any amount of time would’ve been good enough”....and she’s right...because we hate the outcome. 

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On 10/17/2020 at 10:16 AM, Gracie4ever said:

“I don’t think any amount of time would’ve been good enough”

I agree.  I had two months and ten days to process Arlie's impending death and it was not even close enough to being "enough!"  The truth is, I was dying inside watching his suffering and desperate to avoid the inevitable, for him, and for me.  It was the hardest thing in the world.  And the finality was HARD HITTING!  Even after 14 months and two days (but who's counting?!) it's still hard, I want him back, plain and simple.  But then again, not at his expense.  A friend had a dog that was 19 with cancer, they let him suffer to death and I vowed to not do that with Arlie, I had him euthanized before he reached the point that dog did of not being able to walk or eat.  I provided comfort care, had him on SAMe, CBD oil, and liver supplements.  I enticed him to eat with treat-food that he could tolerate (he had chronic acute Colitis for life).  Cancer should have been a four letter word, in my book.  :(

 

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You did the right thing, dear Kay. You saw when Arlie was no longer able to live comfortably and you made the toughest call, ever. You were not thinking of yourself but only of Arlie, as should be, and you helped him to rest when the time was right. It devastates our hearts and breaks them, but we will take that, knowing our beloveds are no longer suffering and never to suffer again!! Only to be at peace and happy. Hugs to you.

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