Running The Gamut Of Grief

The cloak of grief is heavy. It feels as though there are rocks sewn into the pockets.

Last night I turned down the sound machine next to my bed to better listen to the thunder outside, which then turned into torrents of rain.

But no sooner did I begin to feel the pleasure of listening to it than I was jerked up by the arm of guilt. How could I feel pleasure with Charlie gone?

We all know the five stages of grief because we’ve all been through it at one time or another.

  • denial
  • anger
  • bargaining
  • depression
  • acceptance

Denial comes when you first learn of a loss. You immediately think: “This can’t be happening.”

Anger is when reality sets in and you’re faced, everywhere you turn, with the pain of your loss.

During the bargaining phase, you dwell on what you possibly could have done to prevent this loss from occurring. You are harsh with yourself. Guilt comes blowing in like a strong wind.

Over and over again it plays in your head like an old record player stuck on the vinyl surface.

The what ifs.

We all grieve differently. I’ve been vacillating from one emotion to another.

I might be driving down the street and burst into sudden tears and sob all the way home.

And then comes the bargaining. Yesterday from time to time I found myself saying over and over: “I want my baby back. Please just let me have my baby back.”

On Monday afternoon I stood over him with my hands stroking his fur when the female vet, who was very kind, gently said: “He’s gone.”

I kissed him, told him how much I loved him, as I’d been saying during the whole process. And kept telling him that he was mama’s sweet boy.

Charlie began to snore after they gave him the sedative, and the vet remarked on it. Then he went peacefully toward death’s doors.

The vet came around the table and put her arms around me and told me how sorry she was.

Then I had to turn around and walk out that door without my baby.

And the tsunami of what happens after death began.

Guilt and sadness slapped me in the face as I walked out into the heat. How could I leave my Charlie behind?

And then I got in the car and drove home in a state of shock.

Did I do it too soon? Should I have waited a little longer? His doggy bed sat next to me in the passenger seat.

I just want my baby back.

Depression came rolling in yesterday. I felt myself sinking into that dark abyss.

Every single night since Abi died, I’ve sung him a little song I made up. I don’t know why, but twice every night I sang Charlie this song.

“I love my Charlie Ross, oh yes I do. I don’t love anyone, as much as you. And I will always be true to you. Oh, Charlie Ross, I love you.”

Then I would say: “I love you to the moon and back.”

But he’s no longer here to sing it to.

Acceptance will be down the road. I don’t want to accept it. Accepting it feels like a betrayal.

I call my dear friend Laura, who worked as a licensed therapist years ago, and sob like a child. And she listens while my grief comes tumbling out in disconnected fragments.

I probably don’t make any sense. But she listens anyway.

Ivy has been in my lap a lot. She seems to sense how sad I am. It frightens her when I cry. I’m brushing her and playing with her and giving her lots of attention.

I’ll be sad for a long time because I had to walk out of that place and leave my sweet boy Charlie behind. He’d been with me since I was in my forties. He’s slept with me every night at the foot of my bed.

He and Abi were with me during that long drive from Texas nearly 10 years ago.

I sometimes still think of the turkey farm in that little town in Texas where I picked him up.

I remember being so startled when I asked about and the woman told me his birth date. Strangely it was the same month and day as my best friend’s birthday. A friend I’d just recently lost a few months before.

I remember crying in front of that woman, a perfect stranger. As I told her about losing my friend.

And then we got home and he met up with Abi. They were quite a pair, those two.

I’m waiting on them to call me so I can go and bring his ashes home. I’ll put them next to Abi’s.

I thank you all for the heartfelt comments and emails you’ve sent me as I travel down the dark winding road of grief. You all are so very kind.

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52 Comments

  1. Dearest Brenda, You gave Charlie a wonderfilled life filled with love. No one could ask for more. You were his guardian angel while he was here now he is yours. Fill the hole he left in your heart with all the lovely memories he gave you.

  2. I am so sorry. And, your words echo the pain all those of us who have lost our beloved dogs feel. I have had many dogs in my lifetime and have dearly loved and miss all of those who have passed on. I still have the tag that was on my childhood dog’s collar. Occasionally I will find it when I am looking for something else and after 50 years it still hurts.

  3. Oh dear God Brenda! It is as though you thought everything that I myself thought when putting Romeo down. The pain never goes away. I miss him like it just happened yesterday. I know exactly how you are feeling. I will pray for peace in your soul.

  4. So very very sorry to hear about Charlie….. Losing these little guys is incredibly hard….. I have been there as well … remembering this same loss and grief…
    Praying you will be comforted and have a peaceful day……
    Such a beautiful post for Charlie…

  5. I’m so sorry Brenda. I’m so glad you have Ivy with you. You’re in my thoughts and sending virtual hugs to you.

  6. I’m so sorry, Brenda. It’s not an easy walk. I’m glad you have Ivy to cuddle with and Laura to cry to…sometimes small comforts do make a difference. ♥️

  7. Oh, I am so so very sorry to read this; I’ve had a busy week at work and just didn’t get a chance until right now to check on the folks I like to follow online and had no idea you had said a sad goodbye to Charlie. He will be remembered by all of us out here that enjoyed hearing about him (and Abi,) and Ivy too. My love and sympathy to you; our fur-babies are family and you have lost a dear member of your family…
    Dawn P. Albany, GA

  8. If you check online you will find the stages of grief from Elizabeth Kubler Ross you will find she developed them as the way people could deal with a final illness. She said people misunderstood her work.

  9. I can’t begin to tell you how sorry I feel about the loss of your little Charlie. I ‘ve been there many times and I agree with J.K. Rowling. Just know that you’re not alone. Take good care of yourself and little Ivy. You’re in my thoughts and prayers. You will be ok. ‘This too shall pass ‘.

  10. Praying God will comfort you, Charlie knew how much you loved him and he would want you to enjoy life. Sounds like Ivy is missing him also. Warmest hugs.

  11. Brenda,
    It is so good you have the therapy of expressing the multitude of emotions through your writing. Like a purging of your soul.
    Know that you have all of us that care and understand this journey you are on. We are here supporting you, wishing we could wipe the tears away for you, but trusting and knowing with time the healing comes.

  12. I have tears in my eyes as I read this. No matter that you know what is facing you it is still a terrible hollow feeling. You want to think that it isn’t true. We will never have better friends than than they are. You wish for just one more day. I hope all of these messages you are receiving help just a little bit.

  13. There are no words that can help. You and your baby shared a loving bond. She is still there but you can’t see her. She will always be with you. Hugs through the computer.

  14. Thank you for sharing your grief with us. It’s raw and real and I can feel it in your words. You helped me through when I recently lost 2 dogs in two weeks. I hope all of our words help and comfort you as well. You are an amazing woman and your pets have had the very best, wonderful lives. Take care Brenda. We are all here for you.

  15. Ivy knows. She can comfort you and you can comfort her because she will miss him, too. Take it easy, get a lot of rest and try to remember all the good times. You are in my prayers for comfort and peace of mind.

  16. I completely understand what your going through. On the 18th of June my cat had an accident while I was at work . I don’t know how long he was like how I found him . He died at home under my bed that night or early the next morning . I feel so sad I had him as an inside cat for 14 years and an inside outside cat a year or 2 before that . He was very thin and we were waiting for his new meds to come . I feel a lot of guilt too . I’m blessed because I do have to small dogs . But it’s all still so strange .

  17. So difficult a path that all of us who have loved pets well understand. And to me, the connection to a dog is strongest of all!! Take care and rest all you can!!

  18. Such a lovely song Brenda. It’s fine to keep thinking and remembering your life with Abi & Charlie. To cherish those memories 💓 I believe helps us.
    You did the right thing for Charlie. It was time to end his suffering ,,,,, yours also.
    I know how it is and how deep the pain can be.
    Now you can rest knowing Charlie does not have to keep hurting and fighting with such poor health.
    Take good care of yourself Brenda.
    Now you have the comfort of your beautiful sweet kitty Ivy.

  19. Love Charlie’s song!
    Grieving is a heavy burden to go through. The pain and sadness of the loss you are having now shows how deep your love for Charlie (and Abi ) is. They knew how much you loved them, and they loved you right back. Your babies will always be with you in your heart. Know that they are at peace and you will be too in time. Be gentle with yourself and allow the feelings to com as they will. Focus on Ivy and she will help you through.

  20. This is a quote I really like and that has helped me during my grieving for my beloved pets: “Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love, they depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog it merely expands the heart.” Hope it helps you in this very difficult time. Take care

  21. Brenda,
    My heart aches for you. Take solace in that Charlie is no longer suffering pain and distress.
    I believe that pets go to Heaven. Otherwise, it would not be the perfect place it is.
    Take care of yourself. Charlie and Abi want you to.

    Marilynn

  22. Brenda, I feel like crying as I read your post today! It is so heartbreaking to lose a pet ! You did everything you could to keep Charlie comfortable and you did him a kindness to let him go! You are in my thoughts and prayers!

  23. Dear Brenda,
    Reading your post today, just brought me to tears, and I am still crying. Your loss rings true, across the miles to each and everyone of us. Charlie Ross was (I know) the most loved and cared for little dog ever, by a loving and compassionate pet owner, YOU…who never wanted him to suffer with pain, and did everything you could, to give him a “wonderful” life. In your sadness, Brenda, remember that, I hope that it makes your sorrow a little softer, as time goes on. He had a good life, because you loved him so. You have my deepest sympathy. HUGE hugs from WI.

  24. Brenda, all your friends feel for you at this moment. Reading your post brought me to tears. Remember you are loved! You are an attentive and wonderful caretaker to your fur babies.

  25. My heart goes out to you. Thanks for speaking out so powerfully about your heartbreaking sorrow. 💔
    I am so sorry.

  26. Brenda my thoughts and prayers go out to you . Only time heals . I have watched my daughter go through all the different emotions of losing her fur babies since she couldn’t have children. You take it easy on yourself and soon the beautiful memories will fill your heart .

  27. It’s certainly not easy to feel ok with helping Charlie but intervention helped ease his pain and suffering as his body was already preparing him to leave this world. This was the last great and loving kindness you could do for him and it’s most often the last kindness any of us can do for them, even though it leaves us feeling as you are now. None of us would choose that route if we had an option but who can stand by and allow such suffering, certainly not me, or you, Charlie’s best friend. There was no expectation for him to improve and you did every possible thing you could to keep him comfortable and on the move for a long time with the assistance of talented vet medicine professionals that you trusted. It’s sad that our dogs cannot live for many more years than they are able to. I’ve found that as I’ve grown older I feel a different and more challenging grief when it comes to (various) loss. I know that I most likely will not have another dog and I think this is another kind of loss in itself that becomes apparent with the loss of a beloved pet at this age – facing the reality of running out my own life clock. I’ve never regretted choosing to share my life with a dog even though I know right from the start that a lot of living will happen in a short while, a blink really. Now I share my life with a sweet kitty who moved right on in and has become a fun and affectionate companion. It wasn’t easy to realize that I couldn’t have another dog and it took me a while to settle on a cat – a skinny stray who needed so much, yet she gives much more. It’s been good to have Chloe with me since Lucy passed away. I’m not saying that I escaped the grief of losing Lucy or that I didn’t experience the same second guessing that you and others go through because that wouldn’t be true. I just want you to know that I understand and I’m thinking of you. Pour your heart out to Ivy. She’s a beauty and looks very wise. Big hug, Brenda.

  28. oh Brenda. my heart aches for you.
    there was only One Charlie Ross Pruitt.
    know that you are not alone in your sadness. xo

  29. Dear Brenda;
    I am so sorry for the pain you are going through loving and missing your baby boy Charlie. Just a few words to say that I think you are truly remarkable because of your ability to post a comment today. I am very touched by your comment today and you may not want to hear my comment but here it is, I think you are truly remarkable being able to post a comment today despite the depth of grief you are going through. Please know you are surrounded by love and prayers at this painful time.

  30. Brenda, I am so very sorry. I have been without a computer for the last week and am just seeing this today. Charlie was an amazing and wonderful fur baby and brought so much joy, not only to you but those of us that we able to follow along with him. He is with Abi now and I am sure that they are without pain and watching down on you. YOU have been a wonderful mother to Charlie and have done everything you could to help him have a beautiful life. Grief is a process and we are here to do whatever we can to help you.

    Sending you love and hugs, Elizabeth

  31. Thank you for sharing Abi and Charlie with us all these years. Your pictures and stories allowed us to love them too. I was crying so hard..again..that my husband kept turning off the vacuum ..thinking I was saying something.
    You did every single caring thing you could for them.

  32. Oh Brenda! I am sooo sorry! The pain of losing our precious fur babies is excruciating and my heart hurts for you. I am so happy that you you have Ivy to comfort you. Xoxo

  33. I am so sorry Brenda you have to go through loss again. I know how hard losing Abi was on you and now saying goodbye to sweet Charlie. I have been down the road you are on and I know it is so heartbreaking at times that you do not think you can breathe. I am sorry and feel deeply for you. I am sure Ivy misses her brother too. My Vet told me that dogs and cats can grieve just like we do for up to a year after the loss of another pet. So be kind to yourself and to Ivy too. She is missing her sweet Charlie too. I am glad you have Laura to talk to daily. With her background and her sweet and loving heart I know she will be there for you. Prayers for you as you journey again through grief. xoxo Kris

  34. Brenda ~ those of us who know you through your blog KNOW you did absolutely everything you possibly could have for both Abie and Charlie ~
    Be gentle with yourself ~
    Hugs ~

  35. I recently lost my Chicapoo, White. I am still angry at myself because I couldn’t bear the thought of him being euthanized. I know he must have suffered but I was selfish and wanted him to be with me forever. And, if there is life, there is hope, I kept telling myself. So he died peacefully in his sleep, lying beside me as he did every night. I still cry thinking that I let him suffer because I couldn’t stand the thought of having him put to sleep. Either way, there is still unbearable grief. And all we can do is let it run its course however long that may take. Oh, to love a dog!!!

  36. May God bless you and help you find peace in knowing that you did the compassionate thing for Charlie. You have your pretty cat to comfort you. That too, is a blessing.

  37. You’re a wonderful fur mama. Charlie had it so good being with you. Your compassion for his suffering compelled you to do the right thing for him. I wish his health hadn’t deteriorated so you could still be enjoying him. Maybe he and Abi are playing together on the other side, free of pain. Take care.

  38. Charlie. Such a sweet boy. He will be missed by many of us, for he was loved by many of us. I’m so sorry. You are hurting deep, while Charley runs. He relaxes and stretches in the sun with Abi. You will see them again.

  39. Brenda,
    OMG! I am sobbing here….I am SO very SORRY for your loss……I know what you are going through as I went through this almost 11 years ago with our sweet Savanna…..I have not been able to open up our home to another dog since because I simply can not go through it again as we did so too with our darling Cassie….My heart breaks for you..I know there are no words to make you feel better right now…only time will help with that… we now have a sweet little Grand Pup named Faye , a Yorkie, that we love dearly and get to see almost daily as we go and take her out while my son and DIL are working…We had a little scare the other day with her and my heart fell into my stomach once again..Hopefully, it is nothing to worry about but worry we will….Your fur baby was so lucky to have had such a loving Mom that took such wonderful care of him ….He is at the Rainbow Bridge waiting for you….
    Many Hugs,
    Deb

  40. OMG I’m so sorry that you lost your dear furbaby. I cried my eyes out for you as I read your sad story. I am now 73 years young, and like you, have lost many darling furbabies as well. Such an adorable dog you had in Charlie Ross = so sweet looking!
    Do not EVER feel guilty over crying for your lost furbabies.

  41. Thinking of you. I haven’t experienced the pain of loosing a beloved dog yet. I hope each day is easier than the last. Charlie and Abi knew how much you loved and cared for them. They were lucky to have you as their Mom. They loved you back and remember how they wanted to please you. They wanted you to be happy and they would want that now. Take care of yourself.

  42. The “what if’s” were the hardest for me and the fact that I felt I had let my 14 year old best friend die when I think I should have done something to prevent it. It’s been four months and I still and always will miss him but the pain isn’t as acute. Everywhere I turn I see him. Something as simple as shelling peas yesterday moved me to tears because he loved to sit with me and catch the peas I shared with him. My heart goes out to you Brenda. It hurts so bad and you will be ok but the grieving is soul shattering.

  43. I think for me the hardest part is when you look around the house expecting to see them come bounding
    around the corner and sadly it doesn’t happen. There is just nothing to fill that void. If only they could just stay with us forever. Big hugs to you my dear💞

  44. Please Google “The Midnight Library”. NPR…has a great description. This is just the book you need to read now. I wish I know how to sent a link. I am reading it now…it is fiction…it is amazing!!!Seriously….this will be cool water for your hurting soul!!!! Please check it out.

  45. Just know he was healed when he crossed the rainbow bridge. He and Abi are having the time of their life right now running around. They are together for eternity now. You were an awesome mom to them both just like you are still an awesome mom to Ivy. Lean on her and love on her. She is grieving also. Take care of you both. Always remember the great times you all had.

  46. I’m crying as I read this, remembering with fresh grief all the sweet fur babies in my life who have passed on. I’m so sorry.