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I Feel Like I'm Losing It!


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I found your website Friday. I wish I had found it weeks ago! Everyone in my life has been acting SO crazy that I feel like I’m losing it! I have been a basket case for a couple weeks now. Spirit is my/WAS my nearly 17 yo Airedale Terrier mix. Everyone at the parks & mountains we used to hike would compare him to Benji, but he was MUCH smarter. I got him the week after I came back from my Mom’s funeral in 1991. My family was acting so wacko then trying to obtain material items that I thought I was losing it then. He stepped in and was my emotional support, gave me love, taught me how to give and receive unconditional love and stayed by my side until Thursday. I found him at a carnival. Some kid was shouting “Free Puppy” & once I saw him, that was all she wrote. I even lived in an apartment at the time & I swore I’d never get a dog, but he just seemed to fit. I took him with me without a chain to a nearby park to see how he would behave. He stuck by me like glue & he has ever since, probably because I never demanded it of him! Sheesh—let that be a lesson to all of us! I walked him and he seemed SO PROUD to be with me. That’s how he got his name—one definition was: of high spirit.

I am trying to keep my head on straight. I have lost ten pounds from crying in the past two weeks. That’s a LOT of Kleenex. I have torn my fingertips apart with anxiety to the point of bleeding. I have been aware for the past five years since he was 12 that he could die at any time. Every morning, I would check to make sure he’s still breathing. I have felt blessed that he stayed with me this long, but it doesn’t make the events of the past ten days any easier. He never showed any signs of failing health until the past year & a half. Knowing what I know now, it was probably his time back then, but Airedales (I recently learned) are known for their stoic qualities. He was a total trooper until the very end. Over the past year & a half, occasionally he would take a spill while we were walking on uneven ground. He always got up after awhile & just shook it off.

I’m a single woman. Spirit came into my life at a time when I was emotionally needy. He stood by me through thick and thin, being my protector, confidant and best companion. One time in 2004, he held an intruder at bay in fear after he entered my condo. He had the guy cowering in fear by the front door when I found him! We had a bond like NO OTHER, as he was a dog like no other. I’m in total shock.

As I left the condo yesterday, I grabbed his chain by the door as I normally would when I was leaving, to take him out before I left. The reality of him being gone has not set in! OUCH! I have a small Terrier planter that my friend bought for me some time ago. I recently brought it out to finish painting it. I set it on one of the chairs in the LR. Spirit took one look at that likeness and gave me the look that seemed to say, “How come HE gets to sit on the furniture!?!?!?!” At times, I feel guilty, that he might have thought I was trying to replace him with that statue. I hope he knows NOW that that statue REPRESENTED him, NOT replaced him… I hesitated to finish the painting project that I started, because I didn’t want him to feel slighted. It is now sitting where he used to sit. When I turn my head to check on him, it’s almost like his little head poking around the corner.

I read several posts on the site the other night & knew I was in the right place. I know I’m not losing my mind, but I can’t believe how callous people are acting. These are people that I thought were my FRIENDS, in some cases, my BEST friends.

Today I can see his face, patiently waiting for the last bite. I taught him never to beg, but to step back, lie down and wait, and I would give him the last bite & let him lick the bowl or plate. He would even take paper plates & yogurt cups to the garbage & throw them away! I taught him to say “I Ruv Roo” & even have it many times on video. Kids used to run up to me in the park & say, “that’s the talking dog!!!” He rang a bell when he wanted to go outside & another one when he ran out of water. He was THE BEST.

I feel like I’m living a NIGHTMARE! One of the posts I read made reference to feeling like a walking zombie, and THAT’S ME! My work and projects don’t interest me & that is not good, because I (am supposed to) work out of my home! I LOVE to read, but I cannot focus on reading anything, not even a newspaper sales ad!

I feel confident that I did EVERYTHING that I possibly could for him. I didn’t do IT too early or too late. I did it ALL the right way, giving him dignity and closure as necessary to ensure his comfort and safe and happy passing. I just forgot about MY needs. I didn’t make any arrangements for what would happen to ME after I did THE DEED. Now I feel like not only was he my best friend, he was my ONLY friend!

Last Thursday, I was walking him & ran into a neighbor that was also walking her dog. We have often run into each other in the complex over the past 4 years. Spirit took a spill & fell over & couldn’t get up. I was sobbing loudly. The neighbor said, “I’m sorry about your dog” and walked away. I just can’t believe that another dog owner could possibly be that callous and cold!

He lost his urinary function that same night and left a trail on the tile floor that I did not see. I slipped on it & then ran into a box while trying to grab my balance. I landed on my cheek on the tile floor. Thank God I caught myself somewhat, or I could have cracked my skull open. So for the past ten days now, I’ve been sporting a shiner & a huge bruise. It’s finally turning green & yellow on my cheek, but the shiner is still vivid purple.

I knew the time was getting closer, but I didn’t have the funds to take care of it that day. I decided to spend the next few days preparing him for his trip to heaven. I gave him a bath, but it wasn’t his normal bath. I cleaned him off & drained the water two or three times and then jumped in there myself and laid him right on my belly like I used to when he was a little tike. I spent my day easing his mind that everything was going to be fine. The next day, I gave him a haircut, but just with scissors. I planned to use the clippers later. Then I realized how ridiculous it was that I was worried about him looking good when he was going to be cremated!

I called my Cousin’s wife, who has been a good support. We’re thousands of miles away, but grow closer with each talk, nonetheless. We had an agreement that what we discuss stays between us. I gave her the details & next thing I know, my Aunt is on the phone wanting to direct my every move, telling me that I should put him down immediately because he could kill me. Then, of course, she got mad when I didn’t want to do her bidding & she abruptly ended the call & hasn’t called since.

I didn’t have the money to do that anyway & knew I wouldn’t be able to afford to do anything until I got my check on Wednesday. I live on a minimal fixed income. The County wanted $51 to put him down. I wouldn’t be able to be there to witness it & he’d be heaped in a pile for God knows what. I called my former Vet & they wanted $177, which would allow me to be with him when he left, which I couldn’t afford. They refused to make any kind of payment arrangements with me, even after I explained my disabled status. (Aztec on 87th St. near McDowell—who had no problem years earlier insisting that he had a thyroid problem, only to learn two years later that there was no thyroid problem & I had shelled out my hard-earned cash for two years for naught. You may see this on the news...) I was torn between euthanizing him myself or ? and wondering how & if I could ever live with myself if I was to do that. To me, it seemed the more humane thing than whatever they were going to do at County. I struggled with that for days, knowing I still had six days until I got my check. I just wasn’t thinking straight and he was getting worse by the day.

I thought it would be best if I try to pretend like everything was normal. I tried not to cry in front of him. I didn’t even talk on the phone about what was going on in front of him. I knew the end was inevitable, but I didn’t want him to know that I knew, or that it bothered me so. I spoke to him about how exciting it was going to be that he gets to go to a new place. I told him of how his Mom, Dad, Brothers & Sisters are waiting for him & how he could brag that he had such a wonderful Mom that took such good care of him that he lived five years longer than any of them. I told him that my own Mom, Dad & Grandparents were excited to meet him in this new place & if he saw the light when he was sleeping, to go to it & know it was okay & he would be safe. I assured him that he & Momma would be playing Frisbee at the dog park in heaven in a very short time. I kept praying he would go to the light.

I brought some food down to cook at the community Bar-B-Q last Saturday. The book I had read, Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Anderson taught me that it was important for me to talk about my feelings. I didn’t know when the actual deed would happen. I just knew it was getting closer. My neighbor asked me how I was doing & I told the truth. I could not believe the words out of his mouth when he said “Kill the Dog.” That wacko must have been high on drugs, because I don’t believe anyone in their right mind would make a statement like that to a person that is in sorrow. He’s a dog owner too! I won’t be having any further conversations with him!

I decided to just stick to myself for the next several days after that. I had made two doggie diapers for him & was rotating them every 12 hours or so. His back legs gave out that night. The next day, he was so frustrated that he couldn’t get up that he was spinning in circles & rubbed his one little back leg down to the bone, where I could see traces of blood on the tile. I felt like I was living a hopeless nightmare & there was nothing I could do about it until I got my check. I prayed to God every night to take him while he was sleeping so he wouldn’t suffer, but He did not.

The night before I got my check, I called an old friend that used to watch him when I would go out of town. We were friends for 12 years. I knew he always loved Spirit too, & I would give him the opportunity to say good-bye if he wanted to see him one last time. He shocked me when he told me that he felt guilty about having fed him bad things while I was gone & might have caused the urethra blockage that cost me a $1200 surgery bill five years ago. I was floored. The next day, he called back & offered to take care of the bill for his euthanasia. I was surprised & told him I appreciated his generosity & it was nice to have additional options available. Later that day, I called him & agreed to take him up on his offer. I told him what my plans were & that I didn't think I could do this on my own. I asked if he would come along for emotional support & he said he could not & “have a nice afternoon at the park.” I have not heard from him since.

I bought a huge Ribeye & cooked it up with mushrooms, onions & baked potatoes for each of us. I made a playlist of love songs on my computer. We shared our dinner like a candlelight feast. Then I gave him a full body massage. I sang the songs to him, changing to words to “Spirit” where applicable. He KNEW. He couldn’t sleep. He kept me up until 4:30 a.m. until I finally felt okay to go to my own bed.

Then he awoke me again at 9. I could hear his thrashing, trying to get up, poor baby… It was D-day. I was a walking zombie. Someone ELSE completed the tasks of that day. I surely did not. I put together a picnic lunch of crab legs, doggie treats, popcorn & the leftover steak from the night before. I got everything ready & called my other friend of 27 years, who had agreed six months prior to be there for me when this day/deed came. He didn’t want to deal with the cross town traffic, so I told him it was okay & I could handle it on my own. After all, I didn’t want to put anybody out.

I drove him to Chaparral Lake, which was our favorite place to walk for so many years. I had to carry him about 2000 feet to the water’s edge & I set up towels for us to lie on. Even though he couldn’t walk or run & go after his record of catching 14 Frisbees in a row near that very spot, he was peaceful & happy as a clam. It was frustrating, because a couple came & sat at the nearby bench. I had planned quiet time where he & I could have our final talks & why couldn’t they choose one of the other 30 some benches??? I didn’t tell them, yet chose to ask others to take some pics of us & I tried some with my tripod. I think I took over 250 pics of him within a very short time.

The whole thing is a blur. We ate. He was so stuffed that he didn't even lick the bowl and wouldn't eat any popcorn. I prayed. Then I drove him to the Vet. I held him in my arms as I felt him take his last breath. The Dr. said, "He passed." The Vet left the room so I could have more time alone with him and I felt him take five more breaths! I yelled for the Doctor & he came & said it was just muscle reactions. It all happened so fast that I feel like I missed something. As I was leaving the Vet, I Can Be Your Hero was the first song on the radio. That was one of the songs that I had selected & sang to him the night before. I sure don’t feel like a hero!! I can’t believe that I actually did IT!!! When I got home, I realized that I had spent so much energy preparing HIM for his exit, that I forgot to prepare ME. No one was here. I called my two best 20+ year friends. Their “you’ll be fine’s” left me wondering who they were. One invited me to dinner the next day, then did not return my VM when I called her & has not called since. They were so concerned about getting their freebee restaurant meal that they were willing to leave me to fend for myself at my greatest hours of need. I just don’t know if I can forgive them or if I really need people such as them in my life anymore.

I got on an IM with my Cousin’s wife the following afternoon & told her what happened. She seemed SO sincere to want to be there for me. She said she had to run to Pep Boys & would IM me when she got back & we could talk on the phone and drink wine and cry. I waited until 9:30 p.m.until I shut down the Messenger program. It was 11:30 their time. I never heard back from her & still have not. I give. Stick a fork in me; I’m done.

I sobbed nearly half the following day. I could feel Spirit’s presence all through the house. There was kinetic energy in three places, which I have not felt for years. I walked right up to the one in the kitchen & told him to go to the Rainbow Bridge to wait for me. He obeyed & the rattling bottles & pictures stopped. Later, I cried & told him I didn’t mean for him to go away for good & that I still needed him. I left for the store & the pictures and bottles were rattling when I got back. It’s too weird. He’s still here. Just now I went into the bathroom & there was a noise like a vibration in the ceiling. I laughed & said, “Hi Spiree!” & the noise became more intense. I’m NOT imagining this! I left the room & when I came back, the noise was still going. I said, “Spiree, you’re a nut!” and the noise stopped!

I did not speak to anyone in the complex yesterday for fear that I might lash out at them. I guess everyone thinks since I’m an independent single woman that I can fend for myself, even with emotions of the heart that hurt so badly & run so deep. I am lost & confused as to what I have created in my life. I question if I created this scenario because ALL of my love has been going to Spirit alone for so long. My eyes sting with pain from all the crying I have done. I think I pulled out my back carrying him around. It hurts very much. I got a one-hour massage that really eased the pain in my back, but it has not removed that horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach. Anyone knows dang well that my Aunt got on the horn to my siblings & told them what was going on. You think they could call? I’m ready to pack up all my crap and disconnect my phone & internet & disappear so NO ONE can find me!

As much as I know in my mind and heart that I did the right thing, I WANT MY BABY BACK! He was my whole life! He was my FAMILY! I can’t stop sobbing like a 5-year-old. I have bags under both eyes in addition to the lingering shiner. I feel LOST! I already spent two sessions on the phone with a qualified counselor. He tells me what I’m feeling is exactly right & to expect more! He was right. I keep walking from room to room & forgetting what I’m there for. The hours are flying by like minutes as I isolate. I went to four different grocery stores buying food & booze to fill my emptiness. I spent nearly $110 & now I have a house full of food & I have no hunger & no energy to cook or eat. I never realized that I turned from my work area so many times per day to check on him! Now, when I turn, he’s not there!! I never realized how much I talked to him & asked him for his opinion. Now I’m catching myself wanting to talk to the little planter that looked like him! Each time I go into the kitchen, I start to ask him if he wants more water. Then I realize again that he’s GONE & I’m back to bawling again. It’s so quiet around here that I can’t stand it, but when I turn music on, songs come on that remind me of him. Great! Now I’m not even going to enjoy music anymore????

I cannot expect the “strangers” that live here to be supportive, but everyone here knew me & Spirit & saw us walking the complex every day. I am disgusted with the lack of support from them & my family & friends & that I have to go through this all on my own. I feel like I’m living a BAD nightmare! I considered contacting old friends that I have been out of touch with that knew Spirit, but it seems even more futile to try to get any support after my attempts with friends that I thought were my closest. I think I might send out death notices to everyone & whoever disregards them is HISTORY. Does NO ONE KNOW how much I’m hurting??? Does NO ONE CARE? How am I supposed to express my needs at this difficult time? How do I let people know that I need them to be there for me? I thought I was doing so, but apparently, I must be doing something wrong. HELP!! How do I rid myself of this pain in my stomach? Is it just that everyone has such a hard time with grief or they just don’t want to be bothered? Am I expecting too much out of people? Please forgive me for my scattered, lengthy thoughts.

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(((Hugs))) I'm so sorry you have lost dear Spirit.

What a wonderful companion he was! And what a beautiful send off you gave him.

I know you are feeling angry at the lack of sympathy coming from your friends and relatives. You ask if they know how much you are hurting... some may know if they have lost a family member or a beloved pet. And perhaps trying to help you raises fears in them of their own feelings of grief & loss. Others may have absolutely no clue hoe you are feeling or what to say to you.

I think if you read here on the other forums.. you will indeed discover that many of us have been surprised (and hurt also) by the lack of sympathy and support coming from those we thought would extend us that while we grieve. I think you will also see that some of us have found support in unlikely places and many of us count on each other here for most of our support and understanding.

Check out these threads on some of the other forums here:



The fact is..... most people do not want to deal with grief and loss and avoid those subjects. It is the rare person that will sit and just listen to us. And those are losses of people... so you can imagine how there might be even less people wanting or able to sit down and listen to someone who has lost a beloved pet.

I can affirm for you that it is not surprising that there seems to be a lack of folks in our lives that are willing to support us through grief. So you aren't alone, if that's any comfort.

I do not know where you are but you may find in person pet loss support near where you live. I see on this web site http://www.pet-loss.net/ that they have suggested contacting local humane societies or vets offices for referrals. So that may help you find in person support. (It also seems to have loads of good info about healing the loss of a beloved pet.)

But for cyber support... please know we are here for you. And no.. really you aren't losing it.. what you are experiencing is kind of normal for loss.

You took such good care of him... so I know you are a good care taker.

So... how about your turn some of that care onto yourself? Do whatever you find that helps you to begin healing, whatever gives you peace.

It is tough that you work from home. Some folks find that going to work offers a distraction away from the pain for a bit. But you work where Spirit lived. So you might have to get more creative about making time for distractions. You could try taking regular breaks.. take a regular lunch time. Try to get out a bit during those times if the weather allows. Take a walk or run a quick errand.. etc. Or if you can't leave.. then take some breaks with music... use your ipod if you have one or a CD player and pick music that soothes you. Just turning on a radio might be counter productive if a special song comes on. So choosing your "break" music specifically might help. I know I have a few instrumental pieces that soothe me and I find that with songs without words... sometimes I do better, ya know?

But pamper yourself a bit now. Take care of you as well as you took care of Spirit. And if you find you need some more sessions with your counsellor by all means do that! Anything that helps is good.

Keep us posted on how you are doing.


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Dear One,

Your story is heart-wrenching. Please know that we're all so very sorry to learn of the death of your precious baby, Spirit. If you have Moira Anderson's book, Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet, you have one of the best, and I don't disagree with anything Leeann has said.

I, too, encourage you to find someone you trust and with whom you feel comfortable talking about your experience — preferably someone who understands the attachment you had to Spirit and who knows something about normal grief. This can be a relative, friend, neighbor, co-worker, clergy person, a volunteer on a Pet Loss Helpline or a pet loss counselor (see the Helplines, Message Boards, Chats page on my Grief Healing Web site). Check with your veterinarian, pet grooming specialist, pet cemetery representative, animal shelters, humane organizations or even your local librarian for information on what pet loss services may be available in your own community.

I also suggest you do some reading about the normal grieving process, both to prepare you for what to expect in the days and weeks ahead, and to reassure yourself that what you're going through is normal. Have you had an opportunity to thoroughly explore my own Grief Healing web site? If not, I hope that you will do so. Simply go to http://www.griefhealing.com. Plan on spending some time on each of the pages there. It will offer you some measure of comfort, information and support, as well as links to many other useful resources. Once there, click on to my Articles ~ Columns ~ Books page. Scroll down until you come to "Articles by Marty Related to Pet Loss." See also Pet Loss Articles. I've also written an on-line e-mail course on pet loss, which offers you yet another way to make sense of what you're feeling. If you're interested, you can get a sense of it here: Pet Loss: A Different Grief.

You might also find solace in reading these touching pieces, which you'll find among writings by other authors on my Comfort for Grieving Animal Lovers page: Euthanasia: The Merciful Release and The Fourth Day.

I'm so sorry that friends and neighbors aren't there for you in the way you need them to be right now, but I want to assure you that here, you are being heard and you are not alone. Whether we're responding to you individually or simply reading what you've posted, there are many animal lovers here who care about you, and all of us are wrapping you in warm hugs of sympathy and understanding.

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I read your writting here and silent tears rolled down my face as I read about your loss. You had a very special dog, unique in everyway, and you know that.

I feel at a loss for what to say, Leeann and Marty are both right, and Marty's links can be extremely helpful when you feel up to it. I understand being drained and not being able to dig any deeper into your own pain, even if it helps you get out. Do not take my loss of words for a loss of compassion. The world lost someone very special when your Spirit was called away from this world, and it will never be the same.

I am rather astonished that your friends and family would so strongly push you. I think a more tender understanding would have helped more, but they didn't know. The lack of continued comment from your loved ones, is truly heart breaking. How sad it is that there are no answers only more questions. I suppose in the future when one of them has a similiar loss you can help them, in ways they never would have dreamed to help you, but that is in the future and doesn't help in the here and now, or perhaps makes it worse.

What I can say is this, Spirit loved you, with every fiber of his being he loved you. It's a awful loss to bear without him in your life everday. But that doesn't mean the love is gone. He still loves you, and as you know one day you will stand together on the rainbow bridge, and you can turn and shake your heads at all of us still on this side and walk away together.

It moves me deeply how much your friend loved you, and what an amazing gift he was in your life. I can see how that makes things harder now, but you were so blessed to have him in your life. You did everything in your power to do. You feel you did everything for him and that's true, but take solice in that fact. Embrace yourself with the love you gave him, especially in his last days. Those memories hurt very badly, but you did them with your dog, together you shared love, you thought of only him, but that created very special moments that you can hold in your heart. No it's not the same as holding him in your arms, but it's what you have, and it's worth your every effort.

Take Care.

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Hi--I came back & saw 27 people read my post & no one replied & then I REALLY thought I was losing it... so I had to stay away for a couple more days.

Of all people, a neighbor I hardly knew whose daughter died came through in a very big way. She was like a life raft in a tumultuous ocean. I sent a desperate email to everyone that I thought loved me or Spirit & asked them to contact me & left my number. People are coming out of the woodwork little by little. The ones that have not really surprised me. My siblings & I have had our differences as most families, but they each at least emailed me. My Sis sent a very lengthy supportive letter & my Bro sent a short one, offering to buy me another pet. I know it's not time for THAT, tho several friends have suggested it. How strange it is that the THREE out of about FORTY that took the time to CALL me are people that I have been out of touch with for several years & people that have known me the shortest amount of time.

Thank you to all three of you for your very kind and supportive words and all the links. I will definitely take you up on the suggestions & read the links. I'm thinking about going to the support group meeting at the Hospice tomorrow morning in Phoenix. I hope that I can better understand this painful process. My solar plexus is in knots & I'm not even doing situps (though I probably need to!) My arrhythmia has kept me up for the past three nights to the point that I am in fear of my life. My lung condition is worsening & we are not even having air quality problems this week. I am having terror-filled nightmares of people coming into my home & wanting to harm me & Spirit is trying to save me & they want to kill him & another where my dream cabin is shown, but they're digging a grave a few feet from the front door. I just want it all to stop & to wake up from this nightmare & have everything be back to normal.

Thank you SO MUCH for all of your support, whether in written form or by osmosis...



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Glad you are feeling a bit better too and that you have indeed found some support from your family and friends. Very good news.

I came back & saw 27 people read my post & no one replied & then I REALLY thought I was losing it...

As I have seen Marty post from time to time... just because no has responded to one's posts doesn't mean that no one cares.

Sometimes I find I can't respond to certain posts because I care too much. And am very moved by what I have read. (Don't forget we are all here grieving someone or something and are in a tender way ourselves. We all have good days and bad and sometimes we are just unable to post at the moment.)

When I just can't respond to someone... I sure do send them good thoughts and prayers though. So there's your "osmosis" I guess right? :)

But we all do care here, we just may not have the words to necessarily respond & say so.

Also I like to keep in mind that as I may be pouring my heart out here in a post.. or venting.. I may simultaneously be helping someone else 'out there' by affirming their own feelings.

But I know when I post.. that many are reading and probably helping me along with their good thoughts even though they may not have responded. So it is all good here. And I am super grateful for this site.

So how have you been managing? Are you still experiencing the physical symptoms?? If so.. maybe a call to your Doctor might be in order. Again, as I have stated before, our Doctors can really be a good resource for us at time like these. Many of us here have sought some help from our Doctors.

In any event I hope you are feeling a bit better.


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