Remember that Corgi obsession I mentioned?
Anyone who has ever owned a pet knows they have the capacity for the unconditional love that is seen otherwise only between a human and its offspring.
The gentle nudge of a wet nose or a lick on the hand comes unbidden when we’re upset or feeling down. The bounding dash to the door to greet us is also a demonstrable sign of the strength of the human–canine bond. It’s not just “cupboard love” triggered by a hungry belly. There is, in fact, nothing artificial that could ever replace that sheer authenticity of feeling.
Pets give people so much in terms of love and emotional support. Companion animals can provide support and friendship to society’s lonely, sick or elderly. They can be friends to those who do not easily understand the world around them. Anxiety disorders and depression also can be eased by the loving presence of a pet.
In the beginning, grief is a fog; a dense, never ending barrier between you and the world as you once knew it. At one point, you figured it would lift, as fog does, but after days and then weeks spent under its heavy cloak, you wonder if it’s become a part of your everyday life. In those moments, you might have thought, “All I want is to feel better,” because you want to feel normal, whatever that may mean to you. Yet the simplicity of a ‘normal’ existence seems unfathomable.
Then one day you look around and realize you can see a little further in front of you. The smallest sliver of light cuts into the dark and you realize that this must be what healing looks like. “Something feels off,” you say to yourself. “I should feel better about feeling better.” Grief is funny, you know? You desperately want it to go away, except for sometimes when you don’t want it to go away.
Over time, it seems, love has gotten all mixed up with pain and grief. You realize your pain has become the expression of love lost; the one consistent link between life with them and life without them; and an element of proof that their life left an indelible mark on who they leave behind. Maybe, in some ways, grief has even come to define you in life after loss. Who are you if you are not someone grieving the loss of someone very special? And who are they if you are not here, in life, mourning them?
I don’t know how to be someone who has good days and is moving forward.
But I’m trying.
I’m learning to live with the memory of her differently. It lives in the stories that I tell people about her. It lives in every silly little thing I do to stay connected to her–from listening to certain songs that always drove her crazy, to still rearranging furniture and items because it was the way it would have worked if she were still alive.
In reality, many of the above still bring a lot of pain. Reminders spur an uncontrollable crying spell.
August 15th 2020, a little over a week after my birthday –
I lost my best friend.
Her vet failed to follow standard principles of their practice. I’ve talked to lawyers, to activists, to grieving pet parents, to anyone who could relate or point me in the right direction…. I’ve read many articles that date back over a decade ago, and shit still hasn’t changed.
Out of all fucking things.
I trusted her vet with my life, and she died in my arms. The chaos that unfolded and continues to unfold – is trauma welcoming an onslaught with arms wide open.
Every day is an attempt to make a conscious decision to continue bonds, find positive ways to connect with what you have lost.