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pjsetters

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Posts: 6
 #1 

Three days ago my English Setters, brothers Pepper and Jack, were both put to sleep.  I feel sick to my stomach with grief.  I’m in tears as I type this.  In April 2007 we drove about 6 ½ hours to adopt them from a rescue league.  They were approximately 14 months old at the time and had been turned in twice by people who tried to use them as hunting dogs.  It was clear from the moment we laid on eyes on them they suffered from tremendous anxiety. 

They continued to be fearful for a long time after we brought them home, acting as though we were about to hit them rather than give them a loving pat.  Eventually they came around and we earned their love and trust.  They would often approach someone wherever they were sitting and nudge their arm for pats and scratches.  Pepper in particular would always come to the side of the La-Z-Boy while I was watching TV so I could pet him.  If I took my hand off him for a second, he would turn around and jam his nose under my arm as if to say “Don’t stop.”  I suffer from depression and anxiety, and many times if I was laying on the couch feeling bad they would put their noses right up to my face to offer me comfort.  Coming home from work and being greeted by them was the highlight of my day.

Jack had lost all the muscle in his hind quarters and it was painful to see how he struggled to even be standing.  He had no control of his bowels and started pooping around the house.  Pepper also began pooping in the house, whether he had lost control or was just copying Jack, I don’t know, but he also had terrible arthritis as well as coughing fits that seem to last forever. 

It was extremely hard to let them go, but the vet said three times we were doing the right thing, that it was our gift to them.  I like to think we gave them the best life possible.  I often wondered what would have become of them if we hadn’t taken them.  Would they have continued being adopted and returned over and over again, or would they have gotten a forever home with another patient and loving family?  Would they have been separated?  It’s nice they remained together right up until death, and beyond if there’s an afterlife.

I tell myself it’s good they’re no longer in pain, it would be selfish to keep them alive just because I would miss them,  they had a good life, and they’re together.  Nothing seems to make me feel better though.  The fact they are no longer here with me kills me inside.  As I said before I suffer from depression and anxiety, and sometimes I felt like just their presence kept me sane.  I’ve dealt with the death of a pet before, but never two at the same time, and there was always other pets around.  For the first time in my life I have no pets in the house.  I’m feeling panicky about it.  I'm not going to kill myself or anything, but life feels so bleak right now it feels hard to go on.
grievingmom

Registered:
Posts: 640
 #2 
Well, when I was in a similar situation I "did" want to kill myself. Obviously I am still here, but I was in so much pain that it was literally impossible for me to imagine a life without my dog. I could not even conjure up any positive emotions. So one day in the thick of this I said "What about if you won the lottery, would that make you happy?" and....the answer to myself was "no". Nothing made me feel happy, no thought made me feel happy. I was truly on the brink of disaster. This was way more than I anticipated and what was happening to me was complete and utter despair.

It's no wonder you feel the way you do. Quite honestly if you felt anything less I would be surprised. As strange as it may sound, it is a good sign that you are hurting. You are grieving. That's what is going on. That's what is happening to you. For some, they can't feel or grieve after what has happened to them, and it truly complicates their life down the road. All the feelings are still there. 

You are going to progress through this tragedy slowly. Thinking about it and making sense of it all is called processing. You will process what has happened over and over again. And you will have disturbing feelings and thoughts.

I know right now life doesn't have a spark of hope, but in the months and even years ahead, your pain is going to ease up.

You have had a complete and utter major loss. Please know my prayers and thoughts are with you. Feel free to reply to this message and let us know what else you would like to tell us about this ordeal.

I had severe and I mean severe panic attacks over pet loss to the point of requiring tranquilizers. And they helped alot. That is the path my journey took and not everyone's does.

My pet losses occurred between 2012-2015. I had 3 girls. We were a family of four for 13 years. For 13 years it was the four of us. Then Pearl died, then Tum and Emerald. I was a walking basket case. I have not adopted since and do not plan on doing so. I literally almost killed myself and my despair was to the extreme. 

Please keep us updated. PS: I have greatly improved since the days of literally wanting to die. I am not where I want to be, but if you were to see my now, I laugh and I smile and I can feel happiness. It isn't like that every day, but I am telling you, I was very bad off.

Please stay in touch,
Stephanie
twinkiesmom

Registered:
Posts: 839
 #3 
I understand what you are experiencing all too well. Fourteen years ago I had two dogs euthanized on the same day. Both were quite old and one of them suffered a stroke. I had retired a few years before and they were my companions, almost always by my side. I cried and couldn't sleep for weeks. Four months went by and my daughter picked me up on my birthday to take me to lunch. She pulled into the parking lot of an animal rescue. She said I couldn't go on grieving and she thought another dog might help me to heal. There was a little black puppy that danced over to me on her hind legs and danced out the door with me a short time later. She was diagnosed a year ago with kidney disease and I know our time together is limited but I treasure every moment. Our fourteen years together have been some the best in my life. I hope you give yourself time to heal and consider rescuing another dog. Actually, I think they rescue us as much as we rescue them.
pjsetters

Registered:
Posts: 6
 #4 

Thank you for the support, and I’m very sorry about your losses.

It was a rough day today.  Although I didn’t cry as much, I was horribly depressed.  I thought about my boys all day at work, and wanted to curl up in the fetal position and die.  Driving home I got teary-eyed as I neared my house, knowing they wouldn’t be there.

Stephanie, I can imagine the despair you felt.  I’m glad you’re feeling much better.  I do have overwhelming feelings of not wanting to be alive, but I would never have the courage to kill myself.  Fortunately, I have appointments next week with both my doctor and therapist.  That seems like a long way off, but I’m hoping to feel better after seeing them. 

twinkiesmom, I’m glad your dog brought you joy after such a tremendous loss.  Losing two on the same day is brutal.  I hope to adopt again some day.  I agree about them rescuing us! 

grievingmom

Registered:
Posts: 640
 #5 
Oh, I know those overwhelming feelings of not wanting to be alive. When life is a living nightmare, anyone normal wouldn't want to live. I  quietly smirk inside when I see things on tv such as " He was approached by two strangers and he was kidnapped and pistol whipped and they stabbed him, stole his money and took a hammer to him, broke both legs and cracked open his skull. threatened his family ...BUT HE"S STILL ALIVE!". Someone in that condition probably wishes they WEREN'T alive. Like being alive after a tragedy is such a good thing.

Oh gosh, you are in the thick of this right now. The worst place to be. Nothing helps. Nothing. I could say all sorts of things, but for you right now, it is not going to change things for you one iota.

So I will say that you are feeling what you are feeling because you are supposed to be. This is what is feels like to lose 2 children in one day.

I was so petrified of my own feelings that I felt I was being invisibly tortured. I could not escape my own emotions.

The "only" thing that gave me any relief (as in a few seconds) from the living hellish nightmare was telling myself "given the circumstances, these feelings are normal". 

My feelings were so intense. They had creeped over into my body and my body had scary and terrifying feelings I never had before. The pain in my chest was unbearable. I went to a cardiologist and he said everything was fine and then insulted me and said "it's all between your ears".  Besides the tranquilizers my regular doctor prescribed prescription pain medication for my chest. I could not cope. This was truly life's darkest hour. It hurt to breathe.

- Stephanie
pjsetters

Registered:
Posts: 6
 #6 
Thank you again for the kind words.  Though there are none to take away the pain, it is comforting to have a place like this full of people who have empathy, who don't judge and think we should get over it within a certain time period.  

I'm sorry you were treated that way by the cardiologist.  It's amazing how even people in the medical field can be cold.  

I'm taking your advice and telling myself what I'm feeling is normal.  While it doesn't feel like it now, I will feel better in time.
grievingmom

Registered:
Posts: 640
 #7 
Just remember:


"Given the circumstances, what I am feeling is normal".

And know that your disturbing feelings are a sign you are grieving and even though right now you don't have a spark of hope, in the many months and maybe even years ahead, your pain will ease.

Stay in touch with us.
Stephanie
pjsetters

Registered:
Posts: 6
 #8 
I'm missing my dogs extra bad right now.  I'm bawling as if they just died today.  I have a headache from crying so hard.  I thought I was doing better, but I guess it's normal for there to be ups and downs in the grieving process.  Maybe it's because of the 3 day weekend.  Days off are hard because it's more time spent in my petless house.  It's way too empty and quiet around here.  I don't know if it's hallucinations or what, but every now and then I imagine my dogs are right there out of the corner of my eye.  Of course, when I turn to look... nothing.
grievingmom

Registered:
Posts: 640
 #9 
It's not hallucinations. You remember them being around and in a way when you turn around or something, you are "seeing" them in your minds eye....because you miss them and want them to be there. It's not uncommon for people who have lost loved ones to "see" them in a crowd. After the death of my mother I would sometimes see people that looked like her and for a split second I would think it was her. 

I would expect this to be a rough time for you. This kind of loss does not go away quickly. You have to wait it out and during that wait you feel every disturbing feeling that comes with grief. But better to go through it now because when you eventually start to heal, it will be for real. Stuff the feelings and go into denial and it will come eat you alive.

This could and likely will take a long time to resolve. But feeling the anguish is part of the healing.  We heal from pain. We don't heal from happy good feelings. So you are feeling what needs to be healed. All that emotional pus is surfacing. Not festering. But it takes a long time for all of it to surface. A very long time.
Don't give up hope for a better future. It will come. Just not right away.

What you are describing is distressing but not dangerous. And it is all part of the process. 

You will be OK. 
pjsetters

Registered:
Posts: 6
 #10 
Thank you very much. That all makes sense. I’m still telling myself this pain won’t last forever, and it’s better to cry it out rather than bottle it up. I was given advice to try journaling happy memories of my dogs when I’m feeling down. I also got some books on pet loss.
grievingmom

Registered:
Posts: 640
 #11 
Remember...."given the circumstances, these feelings are normal". 

And 100% guaranteed you will not feel this way forever. 

When I was in the thick of things no way could I journal "happy memories"...that made me feel worse. 
Reminded me of what I lost!

But if it works for you, go for it.

"Given the circumstances, these feelings are normal".
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