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My Dog Emilio, Died One Week Ago


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It has been a little over a week now since my dog "Emilio" (a long haired chihuahua) died on July 17, 2005, and I feel so sad, and am having thoughts about wanting to join him now at the Rainbow Bridge.

It all started the morning of Sunday, July 17th, 2005. At around 8:30am I awoke to hearing him having a lot of breathing problems, and while I was looking up a nearby emergency vet in the area, he looked to be haviong a seizure. I thought right then and there, that he had passed on, but when I picked him up and wrapped a blanket around him, his heartbeat was extremely slow. I rushed him to the vet, and they were able to revive him, but was told that he had an underlying (unknown to me), congestive heart failure.

They said they could try to keep him alive, but the outlook didnt look to promising...not to mention what the costs would entail, with no guarantee of surviving a normal healthy life ever again. I decided to have him put to sleep to end his suffering, but am constantly re-thinking if it was the right decision or not.

I mean...what if there was that slim chance that he would survive. Emilio would have been 15 Years old in August.

I feel so devastated and am at such a lost. he was a child to me, since I have been single most of my life.

Will this pass, and will I ever get back to normal? I feel empty now, and dont know if getting another dog will make me feel normal again. I kind of feel guilty about getting another dog to replace my loss !!

I have decided to create a memorial garden for him in my backyard and will bury his ashes in it. I have also ordered a little headstone to be placed in it, in his rememberance.

I am just at a loss in what to do next, and how to proceed with my life now...minus my best friend.

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My dear friend,

I’m so very sorry to learn that your beloved Emilio has died. As you say, because you are single and alone, he was like a child to you, and losing him is like losing a crucial part of yourself. You feel cut off from something very precious that gave meaning, purpose and security to your life. It’s as though an essential part of you has also died.

I’m sure this gives you very little comfort right now, but I want you to know that the thoughts and feelings you describe are a normal part of pet loss. I'd like to address a number of your concerns, in hopes that it will help.

You say you’re having thoughts about wanting to join Emilio at the Rainbow Bridge. In my work with grieving animal lovers, I have found that thoughts of suicide are not unusual, especially when the person is deeply attached to the pet, when the animal’s death is sudden, and when the person lives alone. When an animal is such an integral part of someone’s life – in some cases the only friend or family a person has – it can be difficult to imagine life without the cherished pet. There is a vast difference, however, between merely thinking about suicide and acting upon such thoughts. In grief, thoughts of suicide are usually fleeting, and reflect how desperately we want the pain of loss to end.

You made the agonizing decision to end your dog’s suffering, but now you’re constantly re-thinking whether it was the right decision. This, too, is a typical reaction in the aftermath of choosing euthanasia for our pets. Deciding when and whether to euthanize your pet is probably one of the most difficult choices you’ll ever have to make. It is tantamount to deciding deliberately to take the life of a beloved family member, and we ought not to underestimate the enormity of that decision. For those of us who dearly love our pets, we always wonder if we’ve picked the “right time,” and no matter what time we choose, it always, always engenders enormous guilt. (See Rita Reynolds’ beautiful piece, Euthanasia: The Merciful Release as well as my article, Loss and the Burden of Guilt.)

You say you “kind of feel guilty about getting another dog to replace my loss!!” In the normal course of grieving, for most animal lovers the time usually comes when we feel ready to reinvest feelings of attachment in another pet, although certainly everyone is different and that is not always the case. In any event, it is usually a mistake to rush to replace the pet who was lost. You need time to experience and work through your grief over losing Emilio, and then only with the understanding that there is no way to replace your precious little one. Getting a new dog before the grieving process is completed (and before you want or feel a need to give your love to another dog) may seem premature, and it may feel like an act of disloyaly to Emilio. On the other hand, you may feel quite ready to fill up that empty space in your life and open your heart to another dog who is in need of all that love you have to give. Everyone is different; there is no right or wrong decision here; just give it some time and follow whatever your own heart tells you to do. (See my article, How Long Should I Wait to Replace the Pet Who Has Died? )

Finally, you say you’re at a loss as to what to do next, and how to proceed with your life now. I want to encourage you to do some reading about what is normal in pet loss. Start with my own Grief HealingWeb site, where you will find a great deal of information, comfort and support. Take a look at my online e-mail course, A Different Grief: Coping with Pet Loss. Come back often to this Pet Loss Forum, where you are surrounded by other animal lovers who understand and respect the human-animal bond, and know from experience the awful, devastating pain of losing a beloved pet. No one can take that pain from you now, but there is so much you can do to manage it – and certainly you do not have to do this all by yourself. You are not alone. We are here for you, and we care deeply about what happens to you.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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I'm sorry about you loss of Emilio. I understand completely how you feel. I lost my Itchy Feb 28, 2005 of kidney & liver failure. Last year I lost my Oscar on Feb 8, 2004 of kidney failure. They were both 14.5 years old, and dachshunds. I had both of them thru a divorce, financial problems, flew on an airplane(across country) in coach with them, and there medical needs came before mine. If I had to do it over, I wouldn't change a thing. Except never again will I work twelve hour shifts again, but that's another story. When I lost Oscar, I was devastated but gave Itchy all my attention(which he loved). However, when I lost Itchy, I was completely devastate. My life became empty. They were and still are my boys. I feel that you made the best choice for Emilio, congestive heart failure is like kidney & liver failure always fatal. Keep in mind that these diseases are also fatal in Humans. If you havent' started, start reading books on Pet loss. You might want to take a course, or join a support group. Whatever you choose, give yourself time and permission to miss Emilio. Reading helped me, and talking to other pet lovers. You might want to wait for a while before getting another dog. You might want to work thru your feelings. I know I want another dog, but I decided to wait until school is done, returning for Nursing. I want a female dappled dachshund. One completely different from my males. The good news is that you will gradually feel better, take one day at a time. As long as your love for Emilio remains, he's alive. I believe that my dogs are at the Rainbow Bridge, playing in the sun. I believe Emilio is there also. Happy, healthy, and content. I like your idea for creating a memorial garden. I bought a dwarf orange tree, after Itchy died. I personally won't bury Oscar & itchy's ashes here, because I want them with me, always. But that's just me, and I think what you did is great. But most importantly, give yourself time to grieve, cry and miss Emilio. Everyday will get a little better... I promise. Just give yourself time to heal. Hope this helps.

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