There’s something very comforting about waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of rain falling. That was the case last night.

“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.” – Langston Hughes

red petunias

Late yesterday I moved the big pots in the middle of my patio up toward the patio doors close to the fence. The heat was just too much for them.

I got tired around suppertime and left the rest of it to do later.

I have learned with gardening that you let the plants tell you what they need. I let that be my “garden whisperer.” You just watch and listen.

It is similar to grieving I suppose. No two people will grieve the same way. You take your cues from the emotions swelling inside you. From the memories that are all you have left.

I don’t know exactly what stage of grieving I’m in, according to the experts who have studied this subject. But I still find myself in a semi-stage of disbelief.

daisies

“I should know enough about loss to realize that you never really stop missing someone-you just learn to live around the huge gaping hole of their absence.” –Alyson Noel, Evermore

That first week, I was so stunned by it all. What I had to make myself do. It all happened so fast (as death often does) and I was in shock as much as anything.

Those last 24 hours, when I knew I was going to have to let her go, I made myself keep it all inside and just tend to her. I did not want her last day to be fraught with emotion. I just wanted my baby to be as comfortable as I could make her.

Knowing full well as the hours passed that it was leading us to the end of her life. How much worse can it get than watching the clock tick toward goodbye?

I haven’t found a way to make peace with it. To accept it.

I loved Abi so very much. Now what do I do with that love? That love that was nurtured for almost 12 years.

Where do I put it? What compartment do I zip those emotions into?

There is no box to put it in and store it away. You can’t pack all the memories, put a stamp on it, and send it some place else.

One of the toughest things about grief is that there’s no getting away from it. There’s no putting a period at the end of a sentence and filing it away in a folder.

It is part of you when you go to bed and still part of you when you wake up. It is there with you with every breath you take.

I don’t think grief is a train you are forced to board and when you arrive at a destination you will finally disembark.

I think grief is the destination. And it will follow you wherever you go.

I was so naive to think that after a month or so, it would get better. Now I understand that it isn’t within my control and never will be.

It is not something that you can will or wish away. You just have to let the waves carry you, and maybe one day you will see the shore.

I realize now that that’s all you can really expect.

You have to listen to what your mind and body is telling you. You have to keep going because what else can you do?

Oh, it is so quiet outside. The tree branches overhanging my patio are almost completely still. I see the rain droplets gathered on the leaves, suspended for a moment, waiting to fall.

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30 Comments

  1. You describe grief so well. It is so hard to let go. I miss my pets dearly.
    Just when you think you have control, it ‘bleeds’ from the heart and soul again.
    Today I ran across some old notes of my Moms concerning my Dad. He passed away in 2002 and she passed away in 2004. Anyway, she was describing my Dads last day on earth. It brought me back to that day and I sat and cried. Look how long it’s been but how fresh it still is in my grief.
    Thank you Brenda, for sharing what some of us refuse to admit…grief stays with us.

  2. Brenda, please keep talking about Abi on your blog. A lot of us are listening to you and learning from you. My fur baby, Lucy, is 7 1/2, and I love her so much that I cannot imagine my life without her. I have a good marriage, 3 fabulous grown kids, and 3 dear grandchildren. The love I have for Lucy is totally different & was a new experience for me. After your sweet Abi passed I had to start preparing my mind for the inevitable loss of my dog, eventually

  3. When my daughter had been gone a few months, I read a comment somewhere from someone who was half-seriously lamenting the fact that we no longer deal with mourning the way the Victorians did. Back in that era, a person could wear black clothing for a year to symbolize they were in mourning, so then everyone had a visual clue of the state of grief and respected it. They didn’t expect the person to be all healed up emotionally, and didn’t push them to participate in festive gatherings or other events that the person wasn’t ready to cope with. That’s the theory of what was supposed to go on, anyway. While I certainly am glad I don’t live in the Victorian era for a lot of reasons, I do wish there was a way that other people understood that it isn’t so helpful to push someone through the mourning experience and get on with life lickety-split. Maybe we people in mourning need to get some black T-shirts! Of course you are still in a lot of grief after only a month or so, and you probably will be for a lot more months. But, you probably have gotten the impression from the world at large that you should be doing better than you are. I know that’s the message I get from the world! But, it just doesn’t work that way. You do how you do, the best you can. And sometimes, the best you can means you are in a heap on the couch. Just try to take care of yourself physically, and time will do the healing emotionally. But it does take a lot of time.

  4. Personally, I don’t think you ever heal from the loss of a beloved pet or people in your life, but you adjust to it after a large amount of time goes by. I still very much miss my parents, dogs and cats that have passed on many years ago. Life has gone on and I’ve adjusted to living without them, but the memories are oh so bittersweet and bring tears to my eyes still quite easily….. I totally understand your pain, Brenda. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. I’m in awe of all the tender comments the ladies have left you. You are so loved as was Abi and Charlie, the reigning Little Prince now. I couldn’t help but think reading your words that maybe Abi’s loss will send you down the path the write a book on grief. We are so often calmed by your writings.

  6. Y’all sharing your stories is so helpful that I just had to jump on and say thank you.
    Brenda, I think of you and Abi every single day. I miss her sweet face and funny little quirks, she had such a big personality for such a small dog.
    Danielle Steele wrote a book about her love affair with her tiny girl and while I know we love ALL our pets, sometimes we’re lucky enough to meet and share our life with our *soulmate * pet.
    Much love to all of you.

    1. I miss that sweet little girl so much. I miss her funny smile. I just don’t know how to move forward without her. I want so much to see her, to pet her. I will always love her.

    1. Thank you. I just don’t want to get tired of it. I don’t know how long I will feel this way. And I just write what I feel.

  7. You will see the shore again, just keep riding those waves. It will get better over time; there is no timeline for grief as we all heal at a different pace but I believe you will heal. You feel as though a piece of your heart has been removed, but it will heal. Charlie will help you through this. We are here to absorb your pain and heartache, stay strong Brenda and Charlie.
    Carol and Molly

  8. I’m so sorry for your loss. No one really knows the right words to say, because everyone’s situation is always different, as is the psyche from which they have to approach the situation. I know she wouldn’t want you to suffer too long. I know you know that too. But you can only do/feel what you can, at the moment you are in it. Many hugs coming your way.

  9. I read this first this morning but then we had a quick emergency trip to the vet’s office with James Mason who came in from outside holding his front paw up and moaning. It turned out it was much better by the time the doctor saw him and no evidence that an x-ray was required, just pain med for inflammation.

    But like you, I now panic at everything and anything and have to know for sure.

    Brenda, my heart goes out to you as I’ve read along since you said goodbye to your sweet Abi, but today’s especially so because a month doesn’t make a difference, 7 months doesn’t make a difference. Truthfully, I keep postponing thinking about Otis & Milo, thinking that someday I will when it doesn’t hurt so much. Yes, there are moments now when I can smile as I remember adorable sweet things about them without being knocked down by the pain, if I don’t dwell on it too long.

    I suppose I tend to think of my pain now as being their just due, how could it be otherwise?

    I won’t wish you a speedy recovery because it won’t be there. I just send you the understanding of one mom to another,
    Dewena

    1. I remember when this happened to you, when you lost your babies, Dewena. And I wondered: How will she get through that? Well, we do, and I will, but not unscathed certainly. I will allow myself to visualize something about Abi, and then I fall apart. I cry for awhile and try to put it away and keep going. Because sometimes it upsets Charlie. I can’t exactly pick and choose my emotions.

  10. I am so grateful to you for having shared this time in your life with your readership. It’s an area (like too many in life) that needs honesty and sincerity. I thought Carol’s comment was excellent in that you are not even expected to grieve the loss of a simple pet, at least not for too long or too deeply. These societal conditions that are placed on people need good questioning too and because we are not made to spend all of our days living as a cog in a wheel. It is the world that does this and a society that always wants to point and give its grand judgment. So many of these conditions need to be tossed right into the trash where they belong.

    I don’t know where you go when grief is so intense Brenda, I truly don’t. I struggle everyday myself with such range of emotion but then only end up in that horrible place all over again saying …oh my God he’s gone …

    We all know life is temporal, at least in theory. But when it comes knocking on your door and takes from you something that was so dear – where on earth do you go afterwards? I don’t believe it truly matters either whether it was pet or human and because each person much cross their own chasm in this and we are not to say either what form it comes in.

    “If there is a heaven, it’s certain our animals are to be there. Their lives become so interwoven with our own, it would take more than an archangel to detangle them.” – Pam Brown

    1. Such wise words. No one can walk in my shoes. I’m planning to write a post on what not to say to people who are grieving.

  11. I love the post by Terry. So informative and great advice. Brenda, you can talk to us all you want and for as long as you want, even if others are tired of hearing about it. I found that only one of my daughters seemed to understand and accept how long it took for my grief to subside to the point where I did not want to cry and talk about it all the time. I did find I had to abstain from talking about it to several family members, and it hurt my feelings a great deal. Sometimes they are insensitive to your feelings and don’t realize they are doing so. They had all owned dogs that died, but I think when you are a person who lives alone and the dog is your everything, it is a different thin from when you have a spouse, kids, a job and a busy life. You still love your pet, but it is not the same thing.
    You can also email me anytime you want to talk about it.

    1. Last week I told my daughter that I still cry every day. And she said: “Really?” She lost a beloved dog some years ago, but she said she cried a few weeks and then was able to bring the photos out again. So I’ve compared myself to that. I’m so glad you wrote what you did. I need to remember that she has work and a husband and many friends. I live alone. My babies are my everything. I had a cousin email me to say Abi wouldn’t want me to be sad, and to get out and do something to honor her like go help with animals at the shelter. I felt bad for not being able to do that. But it’s just not something I can do now. I would fall apart. I didn’t answer her. I didn’t know what to say.

  12. One of the worst parts of grieving the death of a pet is that people expect you to move on. When at 22 I lost my first pet, my boss, a doctor said, “what’s the big deal, it’s a cat?”

    1. Oh my God! How awful. If someone says that to me, I think I’ll lose it. You’d think doctors would know more compassion. But I was married to one, and he didn’t have any either.

  13. Dealing with grief and loss is complex. You don’t hop from one “stage” to another and end up in acceptance. I have been grieving a different loss for more than five years and I bounce around the “stages” constantly, although overall I am getting better. I think all you can do is take each day and deal with what comes.. It is indeed “a walk alone.” But your readers are here and will listen.
    Hope you are Charlie have a good weekend together.

    1. And I am so lucky to have you all. Otherwise, I don’t know where I’d put this. I keep hopping around too. I guess I thought you go through stages one by one and move on. But that’s not how it works, I’m learning.

  14. I had a man break into our home once while my son and I were inside. I was taking a college psychology course at the time and I described the lincudent in detail to the professor( who was a psychologist). He said the brain has no place to put shocking things, he also said that the way to handle it is to tell everyone I knew.lneighbors, family, friends..in detail,..including how the window glass sounded while breaking, etc. he said by telling and retelling, my brain would create a place to store the info. He was right. He also said it is a form of post traumatic stress disorder. I jumped at noises for two years. So, by talking about this to us, you are doing what is needed and right. .it was traumatic and will take a long time to accommodate. Hugs.

    1. I talked to a Vietnam vet with PTSD one time about how they learn to “compartmentalize” in their group therapy. I agree that continuing to talk about it is good.

      1. I guess you just “talk” about it until you are done talking. I really have no one but you all to talk to about it. That is my own decision, to live like I do. But I just need to put these thoughts somewhere. To drain them out of my head.

  15. I so feel your same pain that you describe each time I think of the last few pets I have lost. I think it’s that ultimate decision lies in your hands and I don’t like having to make the choice that I have to let her or him go. I have not experienced it yet with removing tubes or life support from a human loved one and I honestly wonder how I will cope with that if it ever happens cause I can’t live with myself making a choice to have a pet put to sleep. You know in your mind it’s the wise choice to make for their comfort but you second guess yourself in your heart over and over. I think if there was a way I could move on from that I could accept grief better.

    1. It’s that decision, that final decision, that is all up to you. To live with. To wonder about. To try to accept. I keep asking myself if I should have done something different when she was showing signs of being sick. If I missed something I should have caught. The wondering will do you in.

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