When it was only a day, exactly a day to the minute, I was in the middle of putting dinner on the table and I couldn’t stand the normality of our routine. The kids were loud, the lights were bright. This time yesterday the house was quiet and dim, and we held our Rosie on the couch as she passed. I flung the rest of the dinner onto plates just as Mr G walked in the door. I ran into his arms and wept. It’s been a day, I don’t want it to be a day! We can no longer say she was alive this time yesterday!
So now it’s been a week. I don’t want it to be a week. I don’t want time to move away from her. I don’t want to pack away her bed and her coat and her collars. I don’t want her to fade into the distance.
It’s been a week of weeping. In the evenings on the couch with Mr G. In the mornings when I look out at her grave. Sometimes the weeping catches me by surprise. I was driving home from school pick-up the other day and I had to pull over from the sobbing. “What’s wrong with mummy?” the 4 year old said.
I’ve been in unbearable pain. Just saying those words will make people uncomfortable. But I truly don’t care. My grief is my own.
I don’t care if people don’t understand the depth of love one can have for a dog. People will try to devalue your loss. It’s not a human, right? If only they knew how my Rosie was kinder and sweeter than any human I’ve ever met. I’m the kind of person who loves hard, and I fell hard for Rosie. She was family. For 10 years. I was responsible for her, and the heavy responsibility of deciding her fate adds to this grief. It still weighs like a stone in my heart.
Here’s the other thing about grief: it’s damn lonely. It feels like no-one else can possibly imagine the intensity of your pain. This is sort of true and sort of false. There are people who deeply understand. But others will abandon you. Not many people are willing to walk with you through the pain.
How some people have reacted to my grief this week has disappointed me. But I have to remember it says nothing about me, instead it speaks volumes about the limitations and calibre of others. It’s hard not to take it personally, but I must not. Because adding more hard feelings onto my already hard situation is not what I need.
Even so, in the interest of this not happening to other people I feel the need to make this public service announcement: People! Grief happens! Yes, it’s frightening! Yes, you might not know what to do or say, but work through your discomfort. It will make you a better person. And one day you will need someone too. So walk through that darkness with your grieving friend. Be their light.
Thank you to the friends who reached out to me this week. Thank you for giving me words of comfort. Thank you for checking in on me. I am grateful.
I have a friend who lost her precious pup days before we lost Rosie – and still in her grief she asks me every day how I’m feeling. I have another dear friend who has walked and talked me through my tears. Anytime I have needed her, she has been there. She truly understands the magnitude of my loss. I treasure her friendship.
My sisters and my parents understand how much I loved Rosie. I’ve shared photos and stories with them that I could not share publicly. My dad – who isn’t really a dog person – ‘liked’ (on facebook) every single one of my 500 photos of Rosie in a tribute album I created. This was a huge gesture of love. It meant so much. So much.
Mr G is utterly heartbroken. We both feel the emptiness in our home. There are no more paws pattering on the wooden floors, no more barking to greet us at the door, no more soft nose nudging our legs for a cuddle, no more calm presence at our feet. We miss her terribly.
We know it will soon be two weeks, then three… The distance. It will take over. Time will move away from her.
This intensity will lift. But for now we grieve. And it’s okay to grieve.
This quote has been the most reassuring thing I have read. (As far as I can find, the author is unknown)…
“Grief is the last act of love we have to give to those we loved. Where there is deep grief, there was deep love.”
And my goodness, we loved her.
Do you see that picture above? That’s Rosie basking in the sun in her beloved running ground, the wetlands. She was surrounded by her family in her favourite place. She was so happy. This is how I picture her now. In green lush fields. Sun shining down on her back. Happiest dog in the world. Waiting for us.