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Grief is unbearable


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Hi to all, I just want to share what I've been going through as the grief is too much to handle. My 7yr old dog suddenly died 3days ago, she's her usual happy self that morning, but 2 hours later she just collapsed and died  on the spot. I did not ever imagine that this would happen, so I am completely shocked and devastated. She stayed by my side everyday since I started working from home due to lockdown, and while I thought our setup is so perfect, she suddenly left me. I'm starting to question why she was taken away from me. I treat her as one of my children. Worst part is every morning, when I wake up and realizes she's no longer there waiting for me. I'm not sure if my family fully understands what I'm going through right now, since they do not have any companion animal on their own. It seems like I'm in a black hole, too dark, I'm so lost. 

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Hi Agemgem.My heart goes out to you for the loss of your beloved dog.You’ve done the right thing by coming on this wonderful website where we all know what you are going through.Hell it’s 8mths since

Hi bene, sorry to hear that you're also going through this grief right now. It's been almost 3weeks for me but it's still overwhelming. I'm trying to get busy just to get through the day, but there's

Yesterday I took my Christmas tree & decorations down and put them away.  Was never hard in the past but this year my hands hurt so bad and the surgical wound on my right hand is still in a lot of

Hi Agemgem.My heart goes out to you for the loss of your beloved dog.You’ve done the right thing by coming on this wonderful website where we all know what you are going through.Hell it’s 8mths since my boy left me and I’ve cried every single day and I was very nearly contemplating joining him as I was in a dark place and still am to some extent.I knew my Coco’s end was near so the sudden loss of your dog must be that much greater and you are right when you say many people mainly non pet owners may I add will never understand the grief over losing any pet.I cannot even have all my memorial mementos that I’ve bought put on display yet as the pain is still too great although I do have his urn,a framed picture,a candle and a few of his toys as a reminder he’s still close to me and I’m in the process of instructing in my will for my ashes go into his urn when my time has come.The only advice I can give you is to take your grief as each day comes and to make a little shrine as I have done as it will be a reminder in time of the happy years together you both had and this website has some people who are better than me at giving advice with care,compassion and love.This is a year that I want to erase from my memory and thankfully it’s nearly over.Sending you hugs and I pray that your grief will soon find peace.

Frankie xx

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Frankie, thank you for all your advice I really appreciate it. You are right, this year is so horrible, I never thought my 2020 will have to end without my big girl.  Here in my country, there is no pet-loss support groups so it's very hard.  It's such a blessing to find thos website and talk to people like you who fully understands the grief.  It's also good to know that you're coping up, just like you've said one day at a time. I have her urn and memorabilia in my room, I just haven't arranged a shrine yet so you gave me the idea. Thank you for all your words, and your support through these trying times. Sending hugs to you. 

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16 hours ago, Agemgem said:

I'm starting to question why she was taken away from me.

My sweet husband suddenly, unexpectedly died 15 1/2 years ago, I also asked why for about a year, but got no resounding answer, eventually started asking what now?  I think it's common, normal even, to wonder why in grief.  Sometimes I just don't think there's an answer, if there were we likely wouldn't like or agree with it, so maybe it's just as well.  Why was my niece born without a brain and die two years later?  Why did my other sister have a car accident when she was 25 that left her quadriplegic and unable to communicate effectively?  We can ask a million whys, no answers.  I don't think someone is playing games with our lives.  I do know that life is not fair.  No fairness about it!  My Arlie (dog) was the most deserving loving, sweet, gentle boy in the world, he didn't deserve to get cancer or suffer.  

I read your post in the other thread but decided to post my response to you here in your own thread.  I feel your pain, it's palpable!  I understand, for that's how II felt losing my sweet Arlie, he was my life, my companion, my best friend.  I've always had dogs & cats, but his death hit me harder than any.  I always called him my soulmate in a dog because he was perfect (for me).  I will never stop loving and missing him.  My son brought me a puppy a few months later, and he's also won my heart, but he's not Arlie, he possesses his own endearments.  Arlie passed 8/16/19 after being diagnosed with inoperable cancer (spread throughout) and liver shut down, his diagnosis was two months ten days prior, and just two weeks before he'd passed his physical with flying colors.  How can they be!  How did they miss it?  Not that it would have made any difference, but how long had it gone undiagnosed?  A year?  Who knows.  He always went for his regular checkups.  I feel his vet let us down big time.

You mentioned somewhere a shrine...I still have my sympathy cards on display on my table, his coat hanging on my chair, I hold it often.  His collar and leash, now retired, hang by the door.  I have mementos by my bedroom door.  If I can ever find someone willing to make it, I'd love to put up a sign on the fence I had built for him, "Arlie's Fence."  He will always have my heart.

Losing Arlie felt like when I'd lost my husband, all over again.  Dogs are so loyal, so loving, forgiving, intuitive, sweet!  I've lived alone all these years with him and the cats, now they're all gone, our little family of four is whittled down to just me, but now I have Kodie to keep me company in this pandemic.  I'm glad I do.  I'm sure my son knew I needed that incentive, someone to share my life with.  Does it lessen my grief for Arlie?  No.  But it somehow helps.  I've laid on his grave and cried.  I still talk to him.  If I hear his answer, I won't tell because they might haul me off.  Then I will know I really have gone over the edge! 

I wish there was a way to wave a magic wand and lessen the pain you're in, I know it all too well.  I've learned to coexist with my grief, I've lost so many, but the hardest by far were my George and my Arlie.  I learned after losing my husband to take one day at a time, I do it still.

I want to share an article I wrote of the things I've found helpful over the years, in the hopes something will be of help to you either now or on down the road.

TIPS TO MAKE YOUR WAY THROUGH GRIEF

There's no way to sum up how to go on in a simple easy answer, but I encourage you to read the other threads here, little by little you will learn how to make your way through this.  I do want to give you some pointers though, of some things I've learned on my journey.

  • Take one day at a time.  The Bible says each day has enough trouble of it's own, I've found that to be true, so don't bite off more than you can chew.  It can be challenging enough just to tackle today.  I tell myself, I only have to get through today.  Then I get up tomorrow and do it all over again.  To think about the "rest of my life" invites anxiety.
  • Don't be afraid, grief may not end but it evolves.  The intensity lessens eventually.
  • Visit your doctor.  Tell them about your loss, any troubles sleeping, suicidal thoughts, anxiety attacks.  They need to know these things in order to help you through it...this is all part of grief.
  • Suicidal thoughts are common in early grief.  If they're reoccurring, call a suicide hotline.  I felt that way early on, but then realized it wasn't that I wanted to die so much as I didn't want to go through what I'd have to face if I lived.  Back to taking a day at a time.  Suicide Hotline - Call 1-800-273-8255 or www.crisis textline.org or US and Canada: text 741741 UK: text 85258 | Ireland: text 50808
  • Give yourself permission to smile.  It is not our grief that binds us to them, but our love, and that continues still.
  • Try not to isolate too much.  
  • There's a balance to reach between taking time to process our grief, and avoiding it...it's good to find that balance for yourself.  We can't keep so busy as to avoid our grief, it has a way of haunting us, finding us, and demanding we pay attention to it!  Some people set aside time every day to grieve.  I didn't have to, it searched and found me!
  • Self-care is extremely important, more so than ever.  That person that would have cared for you is gone, now you're it...learn to be your own best friend, your own advocate, practice self-care.  You'll need it more than ever.
  • Recognize that your doctor isn't trained in grief, find a professional grief counselor that is.  We need help finding ourselves through this maze of grief, knowing where to start, etc.  They have not only the knowledge, but the resources.
  • In time, consider a grief support group.  If your friends have not been through it themselves, they may not understand what you're going through, it helps to find someone somewhere who DOES "get it". 
  • Be patient, give yourself time.  There's no hurry or timetable about cleaning out belongings, etc.  They can wait, you can take a year, ten years, or never deal with it.  It's okay, it's what YOU are comfortable with that matters.  
  • Know that what we are comfortable with may change from time to time.  That first couple of years I put his pictures up, took them down, up, down, depending on whether it made me feel better or worse.  Finally, they were up to stay.
  • Consider a pet.  Not everyone is a pet fan, but I've found that my dog helps immensely.  It's someone to love, someone to come home to, someone happy to see me, someone that gives me a purpose...I have to come home and feed him.  Besides, they're known to relieve stress.  Well maybe not in the puppy stage when they're chewing up everything, but there's older ones to adopt if you don't relish that stage.
  • Make yourself get out now and then.  You may not feel interest in anything, things that interested you before seem to feel flat now.  That's normal.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone just a wee bit now and then.  Eating out alone, going to a movie alone or church alone, all of these things are hard to do at first.  You may feel you flunked at it, cried throughout, that's okay, you did it, you tried, and eventually you get a little better at it.  If I waited until I had someone to do things with I'd be stuck at home a lot.
  • Keep coming here.  We've been through it and we're all going through this together.
  • Look for joy in every day.  It will be hard to find at first, but in practicing this, it will change your focus so you can embrace what IS rather than merely focusing on what ISN'T.  It teaches you to live in the present and appreciate fully.  You have lost your big joy in life, and all other small joys may seem insignificant in comparison, but rather than compare what used to be to what is, learn the ability to appreciate each and every small thing that comes your way...a rainbow, a phone call from a friend, unexpected money, a stranger smiling at you, whatever the small joy, embrace it.  It's an art that takes practice and is life changing if you continue it.
  • Eventually consider volunteering.  It helps us when we're outward focused, it's a win/win.

(((hugs))) Praying for you today.

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Hi Kayc, I'm sorry to hear about your losses, I can't imagine how hard it must be for you losing your husband and Arlie. I value the insights and guidance you provided. The pain is overwhelming, but I get some bits and pieces of your advice. Just knowing that someone like you understands what I'm going through means a lot to me. I have mixed emotions right now-- lost, confused why this happened, guilty what could I have done or what I did not do, so many emotions and thoughts that I don't know how to process them anymore. I know I have to take it just one day at a time, but even so it's still hard to get through the day because she's by my side everyday for almost the whole year (I started working from home due to pandemic). 
It was very thoughtful of you to include the tips to make through the grief, I very much appreciate it.  Here in my country, we don't have pet loss support groups, and my family does not have their own companion animal so I don't think they fully understand my grief.  You are correct, our animals gave us unconditional love and loyalty which makes it so hard to accept that they're gone.  Thank you for sharing your experience, and your stories about Arlie, he must be really sweet. Somehow your insights touched my heart knowing that a person like you understands my grief. I'm grateful for your advice and for taking the time reading my message.  Lots of love.

 

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I am so sorry to read of the sudden, unexpected death of your beloved companion, my dear, and sorry too to learn that your family may not fully understand your pain. I hope it helps to know that here you are not alone. Here you are among kindred spirits ~ animal lovers all ~ who've been where you are now, and who most certainly do understand how much this hurts.

I'm sorry for the reason that brought you here, but grateful that you've found us. ❤️

If and when you feel ready and able to do so, you might find one or more of the articles listed here to be helpful ~ and you might consider sharing them with your family members, as a way to help them understand what you are feeling:

Pet Loss: A Disenfranchised Grief

Pet Loss: Is It A Different Kind of Grief?

Pet Loss: Why Does It Hurt So Much?

Is Pet Loss Comparable to Loss of A Loved One?

Losing A Cherished Pet: Myths and Misconceptions

Helping Another with Pet Loss

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Hi Marty, thanks for sharing the articles it will definitely help us. I’m also grateful to you and your work, most especially to this forum where I can share my grief and will not be judged. I still have a lot of questions running in my mind, and as what @kayc mentioned, we might not get the answers. I was thinking today— Is she missing me now? I know she’s in a better place now, will she always remember me there? I’m not even sure if these questions make sense or if I’m selfish but I badly miss her and makes me wonder if she’s missing me too. 
Again, thank you all for the time you have given to write your replies. 

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Personally, I do think their memories are there and they will happily greet us when we get there.  We know heaven is a place without sorrow or tears so they aren't hurting like we are, I'm glad of that.  I'd never want Arlie's heart to break like mine has.  There love continues, just as ours does.  Where he is, he no longer has cancer or is suffering, he's like he was when he was young, and always with his ever ready smile.

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@kayc I just hope she'll visit me in my dreams to let me know she's happy and okay. Did you experience anything like that? Even just a sign that she remembers me will do. I know for human loss, that's possible. I'm just hoping our animals can do that too to ease the pain. 

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No I haven't had visitations but I know he's happy, he's in God's hands now and I trust Him.  I'll be with him again and he's always with me inside my heart.

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Thank you Kayc, I hope I can also be like you one day. I'm not sure when can I accept that she's no longer here with me, but I'm hoping that one day I will have the courage to accept it. 

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I've gone through a lot of losses, all are not the same.  Sudden death vs death following long term illness.  My Arlie was diagnosed with cancer and I had two months ten days to assimilate that but it didn't help much, it was so hard to process it, to let it sink in, and of course, the reality is hard hitting regardless, you cannot prepare for your existence afterwards, without them here.  It's the hardest thing in the world.

In time it sinks in, we no longer expect them to be lying there on their favorite spot, or to get up and feed them, you realize they won't be walking with you and your truck sits empty, no one to give a ride to.  Each and every daily thing we're accustomed to doing with them is a huge trigger in the beginning and there is no set time for everyone to process this, we're all different.  But eventually when you wake up in the morning you no longer expect them to be there.  It was the same thing when I lost my husband, when his work break time rolled around and the phone didn't ring, it was excruciating.  Eventually the association stops, you no longer expect to see them come in the door.  Then you mourn even the loss of that!  For a while...but even that we grow accustomed to.  It seems unthinkable but it happens, we begin to adjust..  We aren't made to handle this long term so our body adjusts to the changes, knowing we need that to continue or survive.  But there's nothing easy or simple about any of this, it's the hardest thing in the world that I know of to go through.  That's why my heart goes out to anyone suffering loss/grief.  I know the pain.  I live with grief, I carry it inside of me, it's part of me now.  It is hard to balance, but I have learned to do it.

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Today marks one week since she left. Mornings are the worst and most painful. Throughout the day, I've got roller coaster of emotions.  Sometimes I think it's sinking but mostly I think it's not.  There's a time that I would think she's just somewhere in the house, and somehow it brings me a little comfort and with that, I can eat and function a bit. Next thing I knew I'm overwhelmed again with sadness, thinking she's not coming back. I would also ask myself am I foolish to think she's still here when she's not? I cannot even describe/express in words my emotions. One week has passed and I'm scared that I'm going back to zero everytime a week passes by without her. I'm grateful for people like you at this time of sorrow. 

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34 minutes ago, Agemgem said:

One week has passed and I'm scared that I'm going back to zero

So it is in grief, my dear ~ one step forward, two steps back. But you're still moving through this pain and sorrow ~ and we are right here beside you. ❤️

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18 hours ago, kayc said:Eventually the association stops, you no longer expect to see them come in the door.  Then you mourn even the loss of that!  For a while...but even that we grow accustomed to.  It seems unthinkable but it happens, we begin to adjust.. 

I'm feeling guilty knowing that this would happen later. It's like adjusting means that I'm "okay" (can't think of an appropriate word) living without her.  Though I'm very sure I will never ever forget her, every thing about her is etched in my soul. Having her is one of the best things that ever happened in my life. With her sudden passing, I felt so useless, not being able to do anything to save her. The situation did not even give me the opportunity of taking her to the vet (as she has passed away right after the seizure). 
If only my love could extend her life here on earth. 

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19 hours ago, kayc said:

Eventually the association stops, you no longer expect to see them come in the door.  Then you mourn even the loss of that!  For a while...but even that we grow accustomed to.  It seems unthinkable but it happens, we begin to adjust..

This is what I'm referring to, sorry it was not quoted properly

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10 hours ago, MartyT said:

So it is in grief, my dear ~ one step forward, two steps back. But you're still moving through this pain and sorrow ~ and we are right here beside you. ❤️

Thank you Marty, for your wise words and understanding. This website and you guys are saving me. 

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4 hours ago, Agemgem said:

It's like adjusting means that I'm "okay" (can't think of an appropriate word) living without her.

No, it does not mean that.  It means you're scrambling to survive in the worst situation possible!  It takes incredible strength just when we're most bereft!  This is the hardest task we've ever been called upon!  I believe they KNOW we love them and miss them more than anything!  They were our steady companions for years, how could we not!  They would be feeling the same if situations reversed.  It will NEVER be "okay" with us, as in to our liking!  No one asked what we thought about it, no one asked our permission for this to happen!  How we feel about losing them did not play into the decision for them to die, instead, it was thrust upon us, and we have to somehow survive when we don't begin to know where to start!  More power to anyone who can!  We have to try or die in the process, not a very optimal choice...fortunately for most of us, survival instinct is built into us, I've seen people survive the unthinkable...I being one of them.

 

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This is uplifting @kayc.  I know most of us, if not all, will survive the worst. Time will tell. Maybe I'm still in the process of acceptance-feelings are still raw, too much grief, asking questions, no answers,  confused, thinking what ifs, etc. Especially today as it's been a week, what happened that day keeps running on my head. I know I should start the year with hope, but because of her death, my year started with sorrow. I can't force myself to feel otherwise.  I guess I'm still functioning but without life inside me, if that makes sense.  

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23 hours ago, Agemgem said:

I can't force myself to feel otherwise.  I guess I'm still functioning but without life inside me, if that makes sense. 

Of course you can't force otherwise!  It's important to allow ourselves our feelings, going through them is part of the processing our grief.  But also to realize forgiving ourselves and be patient and understanding of ourselves now more than ever.  Yes, it makes perfect sense!  This year I haven't been able to give myself any creative bent (I made handmade cards with stamping, die cutting, for 35 years, but both hands are in pain and I can't, plus I don't feel it like I always have, my creative flow is not flowing anymore.  It's sad, but it's grief, it's COVID, it's physical pain, everything put together.  And that I can't conjure up.  The "will" is missing.  I hope someday it returns, but not right now.  :(

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What great talent you have @kayc .  I always appreciate receiving handmade cards, it seems rare nowadays because of the social media. Yes this pandemic is also adding up to our burden. When the pandemic started, we began working from home and the only positive I can think of is that I get to spend every day with my dog, I don't need to leave her and she doesn't need to wait for me to come home because I'm home the whole time. Having her beside me while I'm doing my work was just a dream to me before and then it finally happened she's literally always beside me. Little did I know that it will also be the same year that I will lose her. 

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That is so hard.  I lost Arlie before the pandemic but he loved it when I retired, still do volunteer work (books for my church) so have been gone a lot lately, Kodie doesn't like it.  Makes me feel bad that Arlie had me gone five days a week commuting/working for a couple of years, then four days/week later.  He loved it when I had the fence built for him too.

My heart goes out to you, it must be hard working now with her gone from your side.

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Thank you for your kind words. I always say (even before she passed away) that I survived the lockdown because of her.   They say that ours is one of the most longest lockdowns in the world, but I kept my sanity because she was with me the entire time. My work does not have the “Bring your pet to work Day” and before I would always wish to experience something like that— where I can still rub her fur, hug and kiss her all while doing work.  I believe we could have done that as she’s the most gentle, “unbothered” dog that I have known. Then pandemic came and poof, I found myself instantly experiencing not just the “Bring your pet to work Day” but it’s every single day, months after months after months! That’s the best, most wonderful thing I have experienced last year.

Early in December, I was thinking I will definitely have separation anxiety when the time comes that I will be required to go back to the office physically. Who would have thought that just a couple of weeks after, the separation will suddenly take place— in this fateful manner, and it’s permanent.  It’s like one of those sad dog movies, but worst, because it’s for real and it’s happening to me. To us. 
 

Sorry this is a bit long, and I thank you for listening. It’s only in this forum that I feel understood. 

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