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Posts: 25
I would love to hear some some of the coping strategies that forum members are using to help them grieve. Personally, it's still very fresh for me, so I've contacted friends and other pet-people to talk things out. I know my emotions are all over the place. First, I'll feel sadness, then rage and also loneliness that seems to tear at my every fiber. The pain is so intense. Almost unbearable. I'm trying to stay busy to divert my attention but its hard. I'm eating but not like I usually do. Sleeping will be a challenge for a while. I know these are all normal reactions but I 'm just trying to keep it together. Reaching out to others is a catharsis. I've found people to be accommodating. I know one day this "pure hell" that I now reside in will subside somewhat but it's going to be a bumpy ride. 

Posts: 19
It helps me to be grateful for the time we had. This is really difficult because my dog was four and died under someone else’s care when I was on vacation. I feel really happy that I knew him. I don’t stop caring about him or feeling upset that he didn’t make it. But being happy he was here helps.

Posts: 25

  I am so sorry to hear about your young dog passing. I've found that most people who've lost a family member (your dog) have regrets about doing or not doing something that would've determined a different outcome. You did your absolute best. Life is far from perfect. Things happen despite our best intentions. I was meticulous with my dog's care each and every day and things can still go bad quickly. Keep posting on this site and stay strong. We're here for you. 

Posts: 22
Jim, for me talking to others and writing about how I’m feeling has been a huge comfort in my grief. I can’t keep things closed up inside me and carry on just like normal. I have given myself permission to feel how I’m feeling and to take the time I need to do the things I need to do in my healing. My appetite has been awful so right now I’m eating only what I feel like I can and that’s okay. It was homemade mac and cheese for couple days and now it’s peanut butter sandwiches and that’s okay too. I’m not pushing myself to go any faster than I’m ready or able to go. I heard recently about grief described as a wound. Wounds are raw and painful but over time they start to heal. Our hearts are wounded from the loss of our precious pets. Take care of yourself and do what you need to do to heal your heart.
You are not alone. We understand how you are feeling and we’re all here to support you.

Posts: 1,191
Jim, in the first weeks and months after my Blackie passed away, I just tried to be busy. And I did whatever I could to distract myself. I watched more TV than I used to, I cleaned my house more than I typically did, LOL, and I spent more time with my other cats than I probably otherwise would have. Because Blackie always slept with me, evenings were the worst and the silence that the night brought was so difficult. I no longer felt Blackie next to me as I fell asleep, I no longer heard his breathing in the quiet of the night. The darkness of the night was particularly difficult for me and I had a really hard time falling asleep and staying asleep. So I started falling asleep with my nightstand light on and the TV on. It helped distract me and I found I could at least fall asleep without thinking about what I was missing.

Blackie & I barely had a bit over 2 years together, so I wrote down my memories of our time together in a notebook. I kept writing in the notebook during many of the firsts that first year or two, just so I would have a record of those times and memories. I'm actually glad I did that because now when I go back and read through the notebook, I'm reminded of some wonderful times that I don't automatically remember and I can finally smile when thinking of those memories.

I also gave myself permission to just cry and let my sorrow and pain go. There were many times in the first few months after Blackie died that I would just sit on the floor in the room he liked to spend the most time in and cry from deep within my heart. It was painful to do so, but I gradually had fewer and fewer of those episodes, and eventually they stopped.

I created a memorial for Blackie. I purchased a toy chest and decorated it with some of his pictures. I put his Gotcha Day and RB Day dates on the chest and I added some other things to the exterior to make it uniquely Blackie's. I put many of Blackie's things inside the chest, such as his bed, the notebook with the memories I've captured, the blanket I made for him, toys he loved, his food and water bowls and other items that were his. I keep this toy chest at the foot of my bed and every now and then I go through them and smile when I remember the short amount of time we were blessed to be together.

And of course I came here to the pet loss message board and wrote a lot about Blackie and the life we shared. It really helped to write those posts, partly because it was a kind of therapy for me and also because it helped keep Blackie's time here on earth alive, so to speak. Pretty much everybody that responded to my posts about Blackie are gone and do not post here anymore, but I consider those that did respond friends and I know they made it easier for me to work through my grief in the first year or so after Blackie died.

I hope this helps. As GoldenMom said, you are not alone - we really do understand what you are going through and are here to support you, no matter what you write or how long you feel the need to share your thoughts and feelings...

- Kelly
Angel Blackie's mom
Angel Squeeker's mom

Posts: 994
My grief is aged now.  4 1/2 and 5 1/2 years since Toby and Tuffy left.  

I went through the pain, didn't try to avoid it.  I think this is important.  Although at times an escape is nice, if it is even possible.

For me, keeping my routine as much as possible was helpful. Although a big part of my routines revolve around fur kids.  I kept up on workouts.  Journaled.  Meditated.  Tried to eat, and eat healthy.

Basic stuff.  Wrote to the boys.  Wrote personal recollections .. I have a document named 'Tuffy Making Me Laugh', with memories.  I put the boys dog tags on my keychain, where they remain.

And I came here often.

Tuffy, Toby, Ellie and Missy's Dad

Posts: 25
Golden Mom:

  Thank You for your inspirational words. Glad to hear that you are at least eating (Mac & Cheese plus Peanut Butter). I feel the same way that there is no pre-determined time-table for our grieving process. Everyone is unique. I will take all the time I need to get all my emotions out in the open so I can deal with them. The wound that you described is very real. It hurts - and it hurts really bad. I've been reading that trying to stay on some kind of regular routine can be helpful. I got so used to taking Shelby for an early morning walk before I started work (I work at home) that now it has all changed and I can no longer do that. The house is lonely but I am trying my best to contact friends, colleagues and family members to help me heal. I've found that most people are receptive to my status. I also know that people don't want to be consumed with my grief - or anyone's for that matter. Therefore, I won't overwhelm them too often and keep my conversations short. 
I've also been reading that so many people just keep their pet's possessions (water bowl, food station, mementos, etc.) in place. Don't move them. Just let them be for now. I'm perfectly okay with that. And lastly, I am trying to visualize some of the wonderful memories of my beloved Border Collie. When she was younger, Shelby used to play frisbee in our back yard. She loved entertaining me, the neighbors and friends. She played frisbee up until she was (14). There are so many other beautiful remembrances that I will wait to share with everyone when I feel better. 

Posts: 25
Dear Kelly (goofygirlinva):

  I was really moved by your journey after losing your precious Blackie. Good idea to try and stay busy. Divert your attention to something other than your own grief. I also like the fact  that you allowed yourself time to cry and get your emotions out in the open. I'm trying to do that now. Sounds like you successfully navigated the different phases of grieving. I'm hearing so many people on these boards say that they're stuck and can't pull themselves out of the grieving process. I didn't think that there is any set time-table here. Everyone is unique. Some people are doing much better after a few weeks, or a month, while others will need much more time (like several months or even years). In the meantime, I think it's a good idea to keep posting, reaching out to others and trying to implement small, incremental positive steps to help yourself feel better.  I'm glad that you're doing much better. 

Posts: 167
Hi Jim
I will chime in on this subject because it is something very close to my heart. I lost my cat on 8 Dec 2017 - had to euthanize her due to terminal cancer. That in itself was one of the most traumatic and painful experiences for me in my whole 60+years of existence. On that day, outside the vets clinic, I cried like a baby in public for a long time and didn't even care who was watching!

Following that I was hit multiple times a day by a pain and grief beyond anything ever before. It was a scary uncontrollable visceral pain that made me gasp and scream out in agony, and I was crying and shaking uncontrollably. Multiple times a day, everyday! It took many months for the intensity of this grief to lighten, but crying daily went on for around 400 days continuously.

As a coping mechanism, I drank alcohol, popped sedatives and even did some other stronger substances. I found they helped a little in the short term, but seemed to actually lengthen the recovery process. But at that moment, I was really desperate so...

There was also a period where I felt rage and anger.(as you too seem to have felt). I noticed myself feeling more irritated and aggressive when I was driving, for example. There was a feeling like somebody had come into my house and hurt and killed my beloved kitty, and it seemed really unfair and wrong. And it made me angry at the world, I guess.

After maybe a year and a half, I didn't cry daily anymore and I really felt like I had turned the corner. But then, these last few weeks, I start having daily crying sessions again, though the intensity and duration is a lot less than the early months.

The moments when I really felt better was when my mind was distracted by other things. For example, I spent lots of time online shopping - that actually worked well for the periods I was absorbed in it. I've come to the conclusion that distracting or redirecting our attention and thoughts away from the last stages and demise of our pet is the one thing is works well to give us periods of respite from the crushing grief.

Finally, the grief also drove me to regular gym sessions. Even though I almost always have crying sessions during the time I'm pounding the treadmill, I feel this is very helpful. And I also added some simple yoga and meditation to my routine which seem helpful too. So in a way, these are some small positive aspects of losing my cat.

Another point is that we can either push away the thoughts of our pets death and suffering, trying to avoid it by distracting ourselves etc. Or we could just intentionally call up these memories and visions every day (which typically may bring on a crying fit). At the moment I'm sort of doing the latter, because I figure I can't possibly cry forever! In my experience, nothing lasts forever, so the tears have to dry up at some point, no?! However long it takes, I'll accept it and be patient.

So unfortunately, I don't have any definitive answers on this thing, but I hope sharing my experience is a little helpful for you and others.

And the question that had arisen in my mind lately is - Is it right to (or why do we) suffer such an outsized prolonged grief over the death of a pet that we always knew had a short life span of perhaps 10 to 20 years? I find this a perplexing and mysterious question even as I am experiencing it for myself. I have shed more tears in the previous 2 years than the previous 60 years combined!! I find it truly remarkable, though really unpleasant ...

Posts: 25

  Thanks for sharing your journey of losing your cat to cancer. I feel your pain. Your crying spells are perfectly normal and I'm sure you're still experiencing the full range of emotions (guilt, rage, depression, etc.) from time to time. You know what? Just let it out. You described your pain outside the Vet clinic as being visceral. I believe it. You feel like your guts are being ripped out. It hurts and it hurts bad. Your last sentence caught my attention as well. "Why do we grieve so much when we know our beloved pets won't be here as long as Us." I think it's because we develop tight, emotional bonds with our pets. We talk to them, nurture them  and come to the realization that they are completely dependent upon us as their caregivers. In return we receive unconditional, non-judgmental love and adoration. It's a mutually beneficial relationship. Something we don't always find with our human counterparts. When that is taken away from us, we feel depressed. You didn't say how old your cat was but regardless of her age, I'm guessing that you spent many wonderful years together, so the bond was very strong. I just lost my beloved dog. She had just turned (18). So we had many wonderful years together. I'm finding it very difficult to process this dramatic change in my life this past week. I'm just trying to find ways to cope. These message boards have helped some. Stay strong and Thanks for your input. Rest assured that you are not alone. We're all here to support one another.  

Posts: 38

So sorry for your loss. For me I have been watching more TV too. I feel that I need to be alone so I spend time alone and I walk where there is beautiful nature as It brings peace and tranquillity. I found a book about pet bereavement which I haven't yet started to read also a dog journal to fill in. It has many chapters for the owner to write about which is nice but I feel like it is too early and want to take thing's slowly and naturally. I have also allowed myself to cry every day as the tears are always there..I think the best way is to allow any sadness flow through, tears whatever. Be kind to yourself, you loved your fur baby and deserve kindness. I have been told that it is a gift to be able to connect and love the way that we do, the connection and bond we share is just magic...

I send you lots of support and a big hug.
This board is a wonderful place to share.
Be kind to yourself.

Posts: 25

  Thank You for your care and concern. The emotions that you are experiencing right now are perfectly normal. Just let the tears out and grieve openly. It can be therapeutic. I feel the same way as you do, I don't feel much like doing anything right now. I work at home and haven't been able to concentrate real well this past week. I find myself feeling really angry, guilty and depressed. I have been reaching out to other pet people in my life via the phone and in person. Most are very sympathetic. I know some people can be insensitive and say the wrong things. These are not pet people. They can't understand how we can be so emotionally intimate with our pets. It's beyond their scope of thinking that we are grieving so much over our loss.  They don't get it. I tend to steer clear of these people. I've found that these forums have been a big help. Please stay strong and post here often. We're all here to support you.


Posts: 639
pet loss hotlines... this website has a list of them. they are free to call and they only take calls about pet loss.

Posts: 25

Thanks for posting about the pet loss hotlines. Much appreciated.

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