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Triggers and overwhelming grief


ErinMS

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Biggie left us on the morn of Jan. 16th, 2022. He was 18 and lost to lung cancer after a week.

I'd been a veterinary technician for 3 yrs before he came into our lives. His story starts when the Vet's best friend brought him by because he was running around his neighborhood with no tags or microchip. He stayed at the clinic for 2 wks while we waited for an owner to call. I fell in love with him and asked my boyfriend(now husband) if we could have him. Well, to make it short-he came home and was our Biggie. He was attached to my husband ever since.

We never had kids so our 4 legged kids are. We now have 2 instead of 3. Which does help but.....not the same.

I've been having grief issues. At first I cried and cried and cried. As a vet tech, I thought if I can get him to eat we'll get chemo and have a few more with him. I held out until he told me, "get Dad, it's time".  It was Sunday morning and we'd had the worst night ever.  We left for the clinic. I had already left messages to the vet and 4 of my co-workers to help us and that he was dying and needed to go over the rainbow 🌈 bridge. My husband and I waited 2 hrs. I was almost about to tell him we needed go to the emergency clinic when I was able to get the stuff I needed. No one came to help us so I had to do it myself! As a vet tech we have to go thru this torment over and over again. But this was a whole other monster that Is still eating at me. I was thanked by my husband to have been able to stay with our Biggie to the end and that I was very courageous to do this, but it's still looming in the shadows waiting for me. He went very peacefully and closed his eyes. That didn't make it any easier. 

I took all of his stuff and put it in our cubby because it is a trigger. I didn't go to work until the next week with my little guy for support if I needed it. I was a wreck the whole day. Told them that I couldn't work the next week. Just too soon. Some of them laughed and said it was just a dog! Should of moved on by now it's been a whole week. They don't get it. I was floored that the ppl I work with thought like that. It wasn't "just" a dog. The week after, I was sick to my stomach but did my weekend and Monday came around and I had panic attacks the whole time I was there. I left white as a sheet 2 hrs later when they saw I was not doing good after I said I needed to go home earlier. 

Now I feel the ppl or place or both are triggers for me. I don't know what I need to do. I've tried to read this book from "Coping with Sorrow of your loss with your pet" by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.  You can get it from Amazon. It gets me crying so I haven't gotten very far, but is really good. I got it from pet-loss.com 

Maybe too soon for everything. I feel fine one minute then crumble the next. I'm angry at myself for not seeing it sooner. There's all these "what if's" too. Even more so when I had to resources right in front of me! And some days I just do nothing but hold my little one all day. My little one is always there to give love and I am so thankful for him. If I didn't have him it would be so much worse.

I would like to know if it's normal to have these swings of emotions and panic attacks at work. Will I be able to work there even? I know it takes time and up to me to know when that is, but the middle stuff is an unknown for me.

Thank you for your time

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I am so sorry for the loss of Biggie.  I doubt that it helps that your coworkers downplayed this, invalidating your grief experience, not what you need.  

I am amazed you were able to do this yourself, not many would but you put your Biggie's well being ahead of your own and I applaud you for that!  It's better than what happened to my Arlie, my soulmate in a dog...the vet I took him too didn't calibrate their scale, it was way off so they under anesthetized him, causing him to go out in extreme pain, it was horrific to see and kills me inside all this time later.  It was 8/16/19.  The day I lost my baby, my best friend, the most perfect dog there ever was.  I'd also like to know how a dog who got great reviews at his physical 5/29/19 was diagnosed with inoperable cancer, his liver shutting down on 6/6/19!  6/7 they called to tell me.  He got 2 months 10 days longer to live.  It was the hardest thing in the world to go through.  We'd gone in for a routine teeth cleaning and instead came home with a death sentence!

I'm glad you found help with that book.  I honestly don't know a quick or easy way through this, and everyone is different in how they handle things.  One person holds onto their things, not wanting anything moved, the next has to have them out of sight immediately.  I only say pay attention to what brings you any comfort and go with that.  I am more the former, I still have his collar and leash hanging by the door and his coat (he was a large dog!) hanging on my chair, I still hold it sometimes.  I had to wash his bed and get rid of the blankets, they had the cancer smell in them.  I painted rocks for his grave and bought him a memorial stone from Personal Creations.

My heart goes out to you as you struggle to process this.  The hardest thing in the world. :wub:  I have found it helps me to memorialize them somehow, hence the painting rocks, and writing. It was important to me that the world know how special he was so he could live on...

Comfort for Grieving Animal Lovers
Why Does It Hurt So Much?

 

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10 hours ago, ErinMS said:

I would like to know if it's normal to have these swings of emotions and panic attacks at work. Will I be able to work there even? I know it takes time and up to me to know when that is, but the middle stuff is an unknown for me.

I can assure you that it is indeed normal to experience anxiety and mood swings when you are in mourning. Grief has been described as a tsunami, as a roller coaster ride, as the feeling of drowning in despair. It is different for everyone, yet the same in so many ways. And there is no time limit, as if the day will come when you stop missing and longing for the physical presence of the loved one you have lost. Grief is something we learn to live with ~ a heavy burden we learn to carry. It takes time and hard work, but it is something we can learn to do, if we are willing. See, for example, Bereavement: Doing The Work of Grief

I'm a great believer in educating ourselves about grief as a process, because when we know what reactions we can expect as "normal", we're better prepared to deal with them and we feel less "crazy" and alone. I cannot answer whether or when you might be able to return to work as a veterinary technician, and I encourage you to put that concern aside for now. Focus on your grief, and give yourself whatever time and space you need to work on that. You might begin by doing some reading about the grief that accompanies the loss of a beloved animal companion. If you click on Pet Loss, you'll find links to dozens of articles on that very topic.  ❤️

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Just checking in on you...thinking of you. :wub:

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I thank you both of your input. Arlie looked like a wonderfully happy puppy dog. I'm very sorry you and your baby had to go through that terrible incident at the end😢

I've been going through some of the articles and trying again to read the book I purchased. They are helping with the crazy emotions. I have found that meditation with my little one in my lap helps to ease me through the spells also(was by accident, he came and just sat in my lap saying"its okay mom, we can do this")What a ❤️!

We also just finished painting his paw prints and are still waiting for him to come back from the memorial company.  I have a shadow box waiting for him above where he loved to sleep. We are also getting a painting done to sit in the box as well.

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Thank you! 

That is so sweet!  How cool is that paw print! I have a special memory of trying to get Arlie's paw print, it still brings a smile as I see it on my refrigerator, his "paw in motion" print...
Beautiful picture of your sweet dog!  I love how you are honoring him, nothing can crush the bond we had with them.  

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