Registered: 1577737079 Posts: 3
I can’t bring myself to say his name on a grief forum because it doesn’t seem right that he’s dead. So I’ll call him H. H left his physical body on Earth on 4.12.19, one day after his 8th birthday. He was not a pet to me, or a rabbit, or a friend, he was my son. He is still my son. I feel like I can’t tell anyone about how I feel because he wasn’t human and no one seems to care about an animal’s death as much as a human’s. I’ve gone through just about every stage of grief since that day, from sobbing to numbness to retracing every detail of his death. I’ve dealt with all of this by writing down how I feel in a book kept in a safe in my wardrobe. But today I am flawed. I feel the most immense guilt. Now since his death I’ve felt plenty of guilt, mostly due to how ‘sterile’ his last few days where, jumping around from vet to vet, forcing medication down him and not hugging him because he’s stomach was hurting. I wish I’d held him. But today the guilt is different. Today all I can think about is how I neglected him over years. I didn’t spend half enough time with him and I knew it. Life is so busy, sometimes I wouldn’t get honey until 7 and he’d have been alone all day. Everyone’s guilt seems to be over the last days of their life, but mine is years of what I’m calling it today, mistreatment. Neglect? I should have spent double the amount of time with him. He was alone so much. I feel horrific. I feel like the worst person in the world. I loved, love, him so so much yet I didn’t go and see him? I went out, I watched TV, I spoke to people, all the time feeling immense love towards him, yet should have BEEN with him. I’m sorry if I’m rambling but I just can’t believe how little time I spent with him. He was perfect. And I mistreated him. I know logically I did spend time with him every day, we had a routine where every night he’d come in from his shed outside for an hour, and of course I saw him when I could throughout the day, fed him in the morning, more time on weekends etc. but not enough. Not near enough. I can forgive myself for his sterile last days because I was desperately trying to keep him alive. But how can I forgive myself for years of neglect, despite loving him so much for all those years? How could I have loved him so much, and yet treat him like that?
Registered: 1444060919 Posts: 640
Having had many of the feelings you are writing about (and so have plenty of others here), I can first say I am sad for you since you are truly suffering and that kind of suffering is unbearable. I clicked on your profile for one reason..I wanted to see if you lived in the US. The reason for that is because when I was going through my own emotional ordeal over my "daughters" dying, I was so besides myself I couldn't even utter a word without crying and found pet loss hotlines to be so beneficial. I am fully aware that they are not for everyone. For some, calling a 'stranger' and talking about the most important thing in your life would be impossible. In my case, I was such an emotional wreck, the hotlines and having someone to talk to at the other end was invaluable. I know there are some in the UK. If you haven't called any, that's a suggestion. I say that because it can help unload some of the angst inside. Actually if you have international calling you can call the one's in the US too, only I am not sure of the time zone and in the event you get their recording where you leave a message and they call you back, they would not call you back in the UK. But sometimes a person answers. Much of the time though, you leave a message. I really am not cutting you off by saying how hotlines helped me. And I want to kind of limit my response to that since when I read your post I identified with your. All that emotion deep inside. And writing about it helps but what helps even more is a kind voice, a patient listener. You say you have guilt over the way you treated him all his life. I had a similar experience. My cat Emerald was always quiet. She did not demand attention. And so I gave all of my attention to her two sisters. Emerald was present, but kind of left on her own. She got everything they got as far as food, a warm place to live, and so on, but I let her be. I did not seek her out. Eventually as she got very old I started to pay more attention to her and she liked it. And wow. Did I feel horrible, guilty and like a horrible person for not being this affectionate to her throughout her entire life. She seemed so content to be left alone I left her alone. And now I was seeing she liked attention. How in the world do you go back and make up for a lifetime? I was sick to my stomach. Hang in there. Time is going to change your perspective on some of these things. Please reply if you need to talk more. Stephanie
Registered: 1577737079 Posts: 3
Thank you so much for your reply. I am feeling better today, still racked with guilt, but not so intense today. 'How in the world do you go back and make up for a lifetime? I was sick to my stomach.' - you describe how I felt yesterday perfectly, like my heart dropped, and a wave of sickness hit me as I realised I had let him down for years. I know of course I spent time with him, and loved him (and still do) with all of my soul, and so surely I wasn't as awful as I seem to remember, yet I also know that I could have done more. I think of him in his shed outside, alone, for most of the day whilst I was at work, interacting with people, laughing, talking. It's so complicated, almost like there are two different sides of my brain, one that says Jane, you absolutely loved him and had a routine, brought him in every night, and he enjoyed it, and was happy. In the summer, we played in the grass together, we cleaned his hutch together, he often came in the house at lunchtime on the weekends etc. Then the other side of my brain says I was completely neglectful. He was lonely, sad, depressed, spent the long day waiting for me to get home and have some interaction. Some days (a lot of days...) he'd only have our one hour at night. It's horrible. It's also hard for me that he died during winter, and so hadn't been running in the garden in the fresh air for months. That was when he was happiest, and I worry he'd forgotten the feeling and felt trapped inside. After nearly a month of grief I'm understanding that it is normal to have conflicting emotions, but it is still confusing to deal with isn't it. Like I said, my guilt isn't so intense today, but I can't shake how I felt yesterday, and that one side of my brain is genuinely screaming at me, telling me I was abusive almost to the one person I love(d) most in the world. It's sickening. I just long for the day all the happy memories come back and I remember how much love and fun we had, and I hope I look back and feel I did spend enough time with him, instead of me feeling like I was neglectful and awful to him, and that he suffered every day because of me, despite my utter devotion to him - as I said, two sides of my brain are battling each day. With regards to hotlines, I appreciate any advice, thank you. I'm not sure I can talk about this aloud, but discovering this forum has helped, and I am so grateful for your support as I can't speak about this to anyone in my life.
Registered: 1444060919 Posts: 640
I am glad my reply to you made a difference. There is nothing like suffering unbearable grief and despair and doing it all alone.
Dear Stephanie, Thank you so much for your reply. I am feeling better today, still racked with guilt, but not so intense today. You said you thought of him yesterday and how he was in his shed outside, alone for most of the day. The thing is, that for a rabbit this would not be abnormal to them. Let's face it, if you and I were in a shed we would be flipping out. But for many animals (not just rabbits), they don't flip out over the same things we do. I know that is hard to comprehend. I mean after all he was your son. Why in the world would he want to be in a shed. But trust me on this one. Being in the shed was not as gut wrenching for him as it was for you. I think if it was, you would have seen signs early on of him being very traumatized. Shaking, unable to eat or drink, wanting to hide and so forth. You did not mention that such behavior is what he was like so I am assuming he wasn't. That's because he was not traumatized being in the shed. I thought for a long time if Emerald suffered from deep depression because I had ignored her so much of her life. I wondered if she lived in this apt. but was deeply suffering, severe depression. I mean how could you live with someone who wasn't paying that much attention to you and be happy? But upon looking back, she didn't show signs of being deeply depressed. So I know what you mean. It is easy to look at the lifestyle we provided for them and easily come to the conclusion that in some manner we had to have traumatized them. The kind of trauma that would have been with them their whole life. From what you say, I don't think he was sick inside dying inside in the winter wondering what the warm sunny days were like outside. From what I can tell by your writings, he enjoyed himself a great deal. He was happy. Came inside at lunch time, on weekends. Yes you had an hour at night but think of all the people that hold jobs who go out afterwards and party and then come home and go to bed and NEVER interact with their pets. Now that is sad. Your boy did not live a life like that. Sure, the life you gave him wasn't perfect...but so far being on this board I haven't read of anyone who provided a perfect life. That's because the perfect life doesn't exist. The best pet parents in the world are not capable of providing a "perfect life". I provided pretty darn good lives to my girls, but I can remember times and with my dog in particular that on a few occasions I was downright abusive. Not a bloody beating, I don't mean that. But pulling hard on her chain when she was on the leash, things of the like. Nonetheless, that occurred because I am not perfect myself. So how could i act perfect. Not to mention I raised these girls as a single parent and was responsible for everything by myself. No family to step in and help..or friends. It was all on me. And given what I had, I would have to rate myself an A+ for what I did with them based on what resources I had. Emotional and financial. The same for you. For what you had, you did an A+. We can only judge our behavior towards our pets based on what we had as resources. Emotionally and financially. What if you lived in a hut yourself with your boy and someone only gave you 1 slice of bread a day to eat. And you gave it to him instead. That would have been a fantastic mother of the utmost quality. Not that him living in a hut with 1 slice of bread per day would be so great.. But look at the mother he would have had. She sacrificed all she had. And I do believe you did sacrifice Jane...in your own way. I think of him in his shed outside, alone, for most of the day whilst I was at work, interacting with people, laughing, talking. It's so complicated, almost like there are two different sides of my brain, one that says Jane, you absolutely loved him and had a routine, brought him in every night, and he enjoyed it, and was happy. In the summer, we played in the grass together, we cleaned his hutch together, he often came in the house at lunchtime on the weekends etc. Then the other side of my brain says I was completely neglectful. He was lonely, sad, depressed, spent the long day waiting for me to get home and have some interaction. Some days (a lot of days...) he'd only have our one hour at night. It's horrible. It's also hard for me that he died during winter, and so hadn't been running in the garden in the fresh air for months. That was when he was happiest, and I worry he'd forgotten the feeling and felt trapped inside. After nearly a month of grief I'm understanding that it is normal to have conflicting emotions, but it is still confusing to deal with isn't it. Like I said, my guilt isn't so intense today, but I can't shake how I felt yesterday, and that one side of my brain is genuinely screaming at me, telling me I was abusive almost to the one person I love(d) most in the world. It's sickening. Please feel free to reply as you see fit. I would be honored to be your friend here on the pet loss forum. You can say anything you want, even disagree with me. And you can go into great detail about your boy and your feelings and experiences and everything pertaining to him and your life together. Including everything you think you did wrong. One thing I can promise you is someday you will live life not being tortured over this. That was my main concern. Would I ever come out of this tortured state of mind or was I afflicted the rest of my life. The thought of living a tortured life forever was too much to bear and caused me to have great despair and not want to live if this is what life was going to be like for the rest of my life. Tortured and full of despair. But trust me, no one could have been more tortured and on the brink of wanting to end it all like I was. And if I can say that the tortured despair lessens, trust me, it does. Thing is, it took me several years. Stephanie
Registered: 1577737079 Posts: 3
Dear Stephanie, sorry for the late reply
Once again you've managed to sum up exactly how I feel - thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I'm still very much in that 'guilt' stage, every night when I fall asleep I practically paint myself out to be an abuser in my mind. I know my brain is exaggerating things, I know I spent time with him, certainly not enough, but I did connect with him every day. I know that I spent extra time on the weekends as I said, and during summer I would be home all day, and see him in his run as and when it pleased me. I know all of this, but I can't help but focus on the negatives, because realistically, I didn't spend enough time with him. It would be easy to say that grief is just telling me this, but unfortunately that's not entirely true. I think the reason my mind is going so extreme in guilt is because of the last two months of his life. If he has died just two months earlier, I don't think I'd be feeling like this at all. The last two months essentially were crazy work-wise. I would leave at 7am and get back at 7pm days. Combine this with the fact it's winter and so he didn't go in the garden - the thing he loved most - it was not a nice situation. I know that just two months earlier I was home a lot and although my brain won't seem to let me remember, I'm sure we spent much more time together. Two months before his death he would spend time outside, finding dandelions to eat, feeling the sun, having me home all day, long evening plays, just 'popping out to see him' etc. It is such a contrast to the situation when he died. I just worry that in his last weeks he wasn't happy and felt abandoned. I worry that when he was slipping out of his physical body he didn't feel my love because I had been so absent. I worry that he thought I didn't care anymore. The funny thing is, while my whole body aches wishing he had died 2 months earlier, I truly believe he died on the 4th December for me. I've always said secretly in my mind that I hope he died on his birthday, so there was only one 'hard' day of the year to face. He managed to die the day after his 8th birthday. Similarly, I was always terrified of finding his body. I never wanted to remember him cold and stiff. He died at the vets peacefully under anaesthetic (which of course I feel guilty about not being with him but that's a whole other issue...). What I'm trying to get at is that although the situation the last 2 months were bad, I truly believe that he timed it for me. He did everything I secretly hoped for his entire life. I know that makes me seem crazy that I think a rabbit can control his death, but I don't know, he was so clever... It just makes my heart drop that those were his last two months. I wish he had died feeling my love, with the sun on his face, the smell of grass, and in his mummy's arms, but I know he did it his way for me, which I love him for even more. It's just hard to deal with. And in relation to your comment that I would have noticed him being depressed - that's very true thank you. He had slowed down a bit towards the end due to other health issues with his digestive system, but he was not depressed. Right up to the end he loved munching on kale, pushing his balls around, and getting massages on his head. The last two months were not good, and I will always feel horrific for treating the one thing I love more than anything like that, but I hope one day I can think about the time prior to that. Even reading your reply about pulling your dog's leash, as I read that I thought, that's not abusive! You were looking after her and sometimes needed to reinforce rules! Nothing about that makes me think you're abusive, so maybe I need to look at my own situation like that. Once again, sorry for my ramblings, I know I've probably repeated myself and waffled on, it's just nice to talk to someone you understands. Thank you.
Registered: 1444060919 Posts: 640
You weren't rambling. You are sharing your thoughts. And you (and me and others) have to share the same thoughts over and over and over and over and over and over again. Quite honestly, why not? You are talking about something
major here! This is not the kind of thing you mention once. This experience has to processed and processing a loss of this magnitude can take, well in lots of cases, years! Certainly months and rarely just a few weeks. This is going to sound awful, but 'so what' if you didn't spend enough time with him? I do not mean that in a mocking way or in a way that suggests he isn't worth the best life has to offer. I mean "so what" because there is no evidence he was injured or suffered from you not spending enough time with him. I am not saying in your case, but the world is filled with many single mothers who don't get to spend enough time with their children because they are out there working. But that doesn't hurt the kids. What hurts children is the quality of time when the parent is actually spending it with the child. And there is no evidence whatsoever that you abused H H. I mean there is no physical damage...such as he was malnourished. There were no psychological signs..such as H H trying to hide from you or you finding him shaking with fears or curled up in a major depression. That's what I mean by "so what". So..if you didn't spend more time with him, what evidence do you have to prove that such harmed him? YOU feel sad...because you would do anything to be with him right now. However that is a far cry from saying that you caused him to suffer because you didn't spend enough time with him. Children (and our pets are children) bond to use and would happily be with us 24/7 if they could. But even though they need attention, they don't need attention around the clock. I know you are grief stricken but it seems to me that you paid an adequate enough amount of attention to H H. I knew someone once who was a professional and gave seminars on raising children. I was once telling her I never gave birth but my pets were my children and I felt guilty for being a single parent as I was having some health problems and couldn't always be there for them. She went on to say that what matters to a child's well being is that the parent they are with is "good enough". Not perfect, just "good enough'. Do you think the treatment you provided for H H was "good enough"? Do you think if you went before a jury that would find you as failing to be "good enough"? >>>I know all of this, but I can't help but focus on the negatives, because realistically, I didn't spend enough time with him.<<< I think what is happening here is that you miss H H. I know I already mentioned that..and in missing him, you feel sad. That sad feeling is taking you places you never dreamed of. Such as making yourself a victim that should be punished because now that you miss him, you are thinking of things you did or didn't do. But listen...if H H was still alive, you wouldn't be upset about those things. Because those things when they were happening weren't that bad. And they aren't that bad now. If they were "that bad" when they were happening, you would have at some point said "I have to do something about this. I am aware I am not doing justice to being H H's mother and I have to change my ways". That never happened because while you were being H H's parent, you were very aware of your behavior but it did not rise to the level of "not being good enough". The last 2 months and how things went down are much worse for you than they were for him. It would have taken alot more than 2 months for him to go from being a happy boy to being a depressed and abandoned boy. During those last 2 months maybe he noticed some changes, but not the kind of changes that would require he get mental health treatment or anything. And don't laugh. There are professionals who provide therapy for animals. Someone on here had therapy for his dog. I know that all sounds extreme..you are sad about the last 2 months. But someone has to talk to you in a straightforward way to reach through that dark cloud you are in. I don't want to say things that will feed your sadness. You are doing a good enough job, haha!! Please keep talking. It's OK if I say things you don't like. If I do, let me know. I really care. I know you are in deep turmoil and extreme suffering. Trust me, I do know that. I know you are not kidding around. Sending love, Stephanie
Registered: 1580304503 Posts: 1
I lost my boy yesterday and I really found your post helpful so thank you. (Sunshine went in for his molars to be filed down and unfortunately whilst under anaesthetic he passed on 😢
I feel like I’m going through such a roller coaster of guilt and one of the things is although family friends and vets are reassuring me he was such a happy loved baby, I’m struggling with all the times I chose to go see friends instead of stay at home playing with my baby boy, or working late - the poor soul expected me home at a certain time and often I would work late 😔 all the time I could of had with my sunshine is gone now. My vets recommended a few grievance councillors for when I’m ready to talk, right now all I can do is lay on the sofa with his toys and blanky and gut wrenching cry thinking of no longer having him physically here. I live alone, it was just me and him, we were a lil team and I’ve never loved the way I loved him! The only reason I live where I live was so he had a bigger apartment to free roam. Everything I did was for him, I’m struggling to know what to do now :( I know this is going to be a long journey of mourning but I find comfort in reading others experiences, knowing there are people who understand our buns are a big part of our life. thank you so much