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I am totaly amazed with myself ,My beloved dog Tazz got taken away so suddenly on Nov 6/2003, and I am a basket case litterally. My Grandpa passed away yesterday at 11:00 am on the 11 day and the 11 month and he was a vetran, and I feel so confused we knew he had cancer and was suffering and that he would pass way soon, but I feel like he will be taken care of and is in a place where the pain is no more, and is smiling and laughing with friends and family. so why cant I feel the same emotion for a human being that has been in my life for 40 years, comparied to My pet that I only had for 3 years . Am I totally that much of an unfeeling person? And I did love him very much, just never really expressed it much ,he was not that type of a person that showed affection much ,but in my heart I know he loved me.

Corinna

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My dear Corinna,

You have just described one of the most common reasons why animal lovers feel so guilty for feeling so deeply the pain of pet loss – and why it is often so difficult to find the empathy, understanding and support we so desperately need from others. I want to assure you that you are neither unfeeling nor abnormal in how you are reacting to both of these deaths. I'd like to tell you – and others who may be reading this – why.

Since your grandfather was an older man suffering from terminal cancer, his death did not come unexpectedly, and probably it was viewed by your family as a relief from his suffering. As you say, now you can think of him as being in a better place, free of pain, smiling and laughing, reunited with friends and family. That is not to say that those of you who are left behind aren’t sad that he has died and won’t still miss him terribly – but chances are that you knew and accepted that he was dying, and may consider his death to be within the natural order of such things.

Your dog’s death, on the other hand, was very sudden, unexpected, the result of a brutal hit-and-run accident, and came at a fairly early age in the life span of a dog. It’s also important to recognize that the relationship you had with your dog (whom you yourself describe as your best friend) is different from the one you had with your grandfather – not better than, but different from.

People I encounter in pet grief support groups are often shocked to discover how bad they feel when their pets die. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard statements such as, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I didn’t feel this bad when my grandmother (acquaintance, friend, relative) died.”

As L.G. so beautifully stated in her response to your posting in the Pet Loss Forum, the love we receive from our beloved pets is different from the love we share with our fellow human beings. With their constant presence, availability and devotion, pets may be our best source of unconditional love, becoming for many of us the ideal child, parent, mate or friend. They listen without judgment or reproach, and never give advice. They accept us exactly as we are, regardless of how we look or feel or behave. They forgive us readily and never hold grudges against us. No matter how much change we must endure in our unpredictable lives, our pets are always there for us. If we allow them to do so, our pets are more than willing to weave themselves into the very fabric of our daily lives. We live and relax in each other’s company. They are there when we awaken in the morning, rely on us to toilet, feed, water, exercise, groom and play with them, greet us joyfully when we come home to them and may even sleep with us in our beds at night. We touch them, stroke them, pet them, hug them, kiss them, tell them our troubles and share our deepest secrets with them. No matter how close you were to your grandfather, I would venture to guess that none of these statements would describe the relationship you had with your grandfather. Unless he lived with you, you probably didn’t see your grandfather every single day either, and were accustomed to loving him in his absence, whereas your dog was with you constantly, and you grew accustomed to loving him in his presence. Think of what a drastic change this is when your dog is no longer such an intimate part of your daily life. Is it any wonder that you miss him so much? Everywhere you go in your home, you're probably bumping into reminders that Tazz is no longer there.

Most pet owners today – and certainly the animal lovers I meet in my pet loss support groups – regard their pets as members of the family. And how we react to the death of any family member— human or animal— depends to a large extent on the part they’ve played in our daily lives, the significance of our relationships with them, and the strength of our attachments to them.

I don’t know how your beloved Tazz came into your life, but you may be interested to learn that you’re likely to be even more highly attached to your dog if you’ve nursed him through a chronic illness or rescued him from certain death; if you associate him with important times in your life or link him with significant others who are no longer with you; and if you’ve relied on him to support you or get you through a crisis.

How attached we become to our animals is as individual as we are, but the bonds that we have are valid, worthy of understanding, and serve to explain the intense pain we feel when those bonds are broken.

And so, Corinna, I want to gently suggest that you stop beating yourself up for feeling so acutely the pain of losing your beloved dog, and stop comparing the pain of that loss to how you’re feeling about the death of your grandfather. These are two very different losses, and both are equally worthy of your grief. You are the only one who knows how very much your dog meant to you, and you are the only one who can measure how very much you have lost. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should or should not be feeling about any of this.

I sincerely hope that other animal lovers who visit these forums will continue to share their thoughts and reactions with you. Please know you that you are not alone, and we hope you will feel welcome here.

Wishing you peace and healing,

Marty T

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Hello Corinna,

I would like to say, I'm sorry for your losing Tazz and your grandfather recently. I am going to light a candle for Tazz and your grandfather. Lighting a candle for my dog when she died one year ago gave me some kind of comfort. I still light candles. It's interesting, when reading your post, it reminded me of my situation. I grieve more for my dog than my family members. I concluded that the reason being is, that I did not have a loving, affectionate, closeness, relationship in my family. Whereas my dog gave love and affection, and vice-versa. I ask myself was this unfortunate, that I didn't have a loving family. Maybe the answer is yes, or maybe no. Don't get me wrong, it was so sad and still is sad losing my family members, one after the other. I just wanted to let you know that I understand how you feel . Also because your grand- father was sick with cancer you were probably already grieving before he passed away.

Shevonne

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Corinna,

I forgot to mention in my above post to you, aslo, because we see our pets as children, I think people would agree, that means we are the parent, so when we lose an animal it's like we lost a child. Losing a child is very painful. You were the mother of Tazz, you have the right to grieve for Tazz your baby. No, losing a dog, a beloved animal is not less painful, in my case it was greater the pain, the loss. I wish you healing.

Shevonne

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