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Posts: 6
My sweet 10 year old bunny boy died suddenly on Friday morning and I'm at absolute loss. I got him when he was very young -- too young to even be away from his mother. I bottle feed him as a baby and we spent every day together for 10 years.

I don't know why he died, but I was with him when he passed. I've lost other animals, but there always seemed to be some warning that the end was coming. There were no warnings with Thumper, I just went to say good morning and give him food. He was curled up in a very tight ball and I don't know why, but I knew he was dying. I started petting him and was telling him that I loved him. He started grinding his teeth and I told him that it was okay to let go. He lifted his head up, fell to his side and took five gasps and was gone. It felt like forever, but in reality, from the time I realized that he was dying to the last breath was maybe 10 seconds. When I realized he was gone, I became hysterical.

It's been four days and the tears haven't stopped. He was my best friend and my special little bunny love. I spent so much time with him everyday. Now, I can make it through my day at work, but I break down as soon as I get to my car and have cried myself to sleep every night since then. I have no focus and no appetite. I've cried to the point of becoming physical ill.

The afternoon into night is the worst. I'd come home from work and take him outside for his outdoor time and he'd run around for hours. I'd sit out there with him - sometimes on my laptop, sometimes with a book, sometimes just watching him. No matter what, I'd be talking to him the whole time. As dusk fell, we'd go inside and I'd give him fresh food, he'd hang out in his pen while I cooked/ate dinner and then after, he'd run around the living room or come hop up on the couch and we'd share some "treats" (I'd have my evening snack and give him some rabbit friendly snack) and watch TV. When it was time for bed, I'd always say "goodnight bunny, sweet dreams, I love you" and we'd "kiss" (I'd lean over to kiss his nose and he'd stretch up touch his nose to my lips).

It's all over and I've totally lost my routine. I come home and cry, I sit outside and cry, I cook dinner, but don't eat it and I cry, I can't bring myself to turn on the TV, so I've been laying in bed crying. It just feels like the most enormous sense of grief and loss. I know it will get better with time, but that barely even seems possible right now. His ashes arrived home yesterday and I cried myself to sleep while holding his urn.

I've never felt this sense of grief or loss with any other animal. What can I do? Tonight I tried to make myself do things - some laundry, unloading the dishwasher and watching the news and I got to 6:30 and just fell apart all over again. I took a shower and have been crying in bed for the last 2.5 hours.

Posts: 640
Dear bellebones,
Reading your post made me think I could have written it. Not about a bunny..but about animals I have loved. The detailed intensity is what I relate to. And so I would like to make a few comments.

You became his mother...literally. Without you mothering him, he was too young to have survived. You truly became his mother. A mother does not have to give birth to the one they mother. You were his mother in every sense of the word. Your bottle feeding kept him alive. And you were together every day for 10 years. I have lost 4 pets in my life. In the case of the more recent (2012, 2013 and 2015) I had similar experiences as you describe. I had adopted them as infants and without me mothering them, they would never have survived on their own. We were never apart. With my dog Tum, I was only ever away from her for 6 days in sixteen years. So for almost 16 years I was with her every day. And we were like siamese twins. We were never apart. That did not happen by accident. I wanted it that way. She became the sister I never had, the best friend I never had, the child I never had. I loved, loved, loved being with her all the time. And I literally mean all the time. Unless I was working. In which case I would actually speed hom to get to her, even running stop signs if there were no cars in sight. My cat Emerald lived until age 19. I adopted her as an infant and the same..I became her mother. She would not have survived on her own were it not for me. In 19 years, we were only apart 8 days. That's alot of time to be with someone every single day. I adored her. She was like a mother figure to me becuase she mothered the younger cat Pearl and she was motherly to my dog. So I saw her a motherly and kind of looked up to her to mother me too! Oh, I took care of her. But she was a leader in our home. And there was Pearl. I was with her every day for 13 years except for 6 days. So like you, I have spend very long periods of time with my pet children. And as you said, you were with your boy ever day. I believe you. When you described your boy dying, I thought of Pearl and Emerald. I saw them dying on the days they died. It is scary, sad and severely painful to witness. Especially when you are holding them. With all of my girls I did not see their deaths coming.  You say you became hysterical when he died. I know fully what you mean. I was wailing and howling for weeks and months upon the deaths of all of them. I had to bury
my face in a pillow because I did not want my neighbors to hear the loud screams. I could not stop screaming for a very long time. I still have that pillow. I know for you these words are not going to mean anything. I have had people say things to me that are similar and they did not register. I am not going to say "you were lucky to be with him at the end". That really doesn't help anything. But I will say this and mean it 100%. HE is lucky you were there at the end. He did not die alone. You say it has been 4 days and the tears havn't stopped. That's not suprising at all. As all my girls died in close proximity in terms of the number of months and years being kind of close, I was in a state of crying for years. Crying about them individually, as a group. Don't worry one iota about your crying. That's normal. Expect to keep crying for a while. I eventually got to the point where I calmed myself down by saying that if I looked at my situation from a scientific perspective, someday I was going to have to stop crying. Because there is no one on record who spend the entire rest of their life as in many years in daily, constant crying. So I knew it was going to stop someday. When, I did not know. And it took much longer that I anticipated. You talked about breaking down when you get to your car after work.  I used to work in Best Buy and would start going hysterical while driving when I would leave work. I was heading home and my dog was not going to be there. The person I had spent every day with the last 16 years. I was really worried and concerned that I would not survive this. It was getting worse, not better. But you know what? That's normal too! The longer you are without your loved one, the more you get to experience life without them. And that's when you feel new and different pain.  I compared pet loss to like falling face first into a fire at a camp sight. As you fall into the fire, your whole body winds up falling in. Your face,your limbs, your torso, Your hands. Your legs. Eventually you are removed from the fire, but the healing process and what you have to go through as time unfolds is unmerciful. You live life as a severely injured person. And so we do with pet loss. We have been truly injured. And injuries like the one you describe do not heal easily. You will feel every ounce and scintilla of the pain. Life will make sure you feel it all. Just like that burn victim. I don't want to divert but just let me quickly say with burn victims they often have to be put in medically induduced comas because there is no medicine powerful enough to stop their pain. It's the same with pet loss. There are going to be times when nothing is available to stop your suffering. You are going to have to feel it. And again, not trying to sound funny, but that's normal too. All of this takes a very long time though. I am not talking weeks or months. I am talking years in some cases. But in your case I can't tell you how long. I do know with the kind of attachment you had with your boy and your intense reaction now, this is not going to stop overnight. Nor should it. Based on the circumstances, your reaction is completely normal. Your baby boy, your life partner of 10 years is gone. How are you supposed to act? The way you are for pete's sake.  Sometimes when I drive with the windows down, things will fly out of the windows. I am always alarmed as I didn't expect it. For example, an empty bag from Walmart or a napkin I had in the car from a fast food place. Say I had just come from the bank and I lost my life savings because they blew out of the window and I could not retreive them. Even that would not be as bad as losing what you you lost. You have sustaind the ultimate injury. Pet loss! Life's darkest hour. I am 65 and pet loss is the worst kind of pain I have ever experienced. Your routine was pretty much set in stone from the afternoon into the night. I know some will suggest you find 'other' things to do during those hours. For me it was impossible. I was in so much pain I could barely function let alone find other things to do during the more difficult times of day. I hate to say you are going to have to suffer through those times, but in a way it's true. One reprieve I had during the times that you describe is I would call pet loss hotlines. They saved my life. I highly recommend it. And actually, any hotline. Talking about your angish gives you a reprieve from the suffering. A time out, a break. You have totally lost your routine, you are right. And when you say "it is all over", I know what you mean. What you had is all over. Life as you knew it is all over. And how can a person expect to have thoughts at at ime like this that give them hope for the future when the future looks like a bleak nightmare. All I can say it I promise you in due time, your pain will beging to ease.  Right now you are processing what has happened. Your boy died unexpectedly. That's a huge shock and just coming to terms with that is going to take time. Never mind the period that follows which technically is called mourning. I could not fathom a life without my children, my girls, my pets. The future looked like a nightmare. But you know, although it may take a long time, grief..loss, this suffering...has a cycle. And while you are going to hate the cycles you go through, those are when you are working this out of your system. And you will slowly start to see that you are going to make it and that there is an end to the present toruture in sight. I know this to be a fact. I can 't tell you how long I lived with life being a 100% state of constant torture and suffering. How can you as I said earlier, have any hope during a time like that? It's all suffering and fear and pain. But trust me, It is going to get better for you. You will not feel this way forever. Not this intense, smothering deep dark pain that won't lift. It's sad...but it's a good sign you are crying. You held his ashes and cried. That's a sign you are stil alive. Some people become comatose, literally. Those are the one's I worry about. You are on target. Based on the circumstances you have just had and are having, you are handling this as I would expect you too.  Keep crying becuase one day you are going to cry yourself out and you will shocked that the crying is cutting down. I actually missed it for a while because I was so used to it! Thought something was wrong that I wasn't crying as much. Please keep us apprised of how you feel. You can post here as often as you want. I am very sorry for your loss. You are going to live to tell your story to others. Can you believe that? It's true. Someone is going to need what you are going through right now. Need to hear about it. But for now don't even think about that. Remarks like that don't help or register either at a time like this. I am so gald you posted and very grateful I had the time to reply. Stay the course. You will be OK. Even though right now you don't have a spark of hope.- Stephanie


Posts: 167
As Stephanie says, wailing, howling, whimpering, sobbing, screaming, begging... I had never experienced these things before, at least not all together, until I lost my Karma cat. It was really shocking and I was even more shocked when it went on every single day for more than a year. It's taken a long time, but now as I approach the two year mark, I seem to be turning the corner, finally. And you will too.

What helped for me was distracting myself from constantly dwelling on my departed cat (by any means possible). Putting in regular physical exercise at the gym also seemed to help a lot, as well as some simple yoga. Maybe you could try these things and see if it helps.

Posts: 6
Hi Stephanie,

Thank you so much for replying. I'm sorry for all of the losses that you've had with your pets too. Tomorrow will be a week since he passed. I know it's going to be a long time before stop looking for him when I come home. I know my survival rate so far has been 100% and that I'll get through this too, it's just the getting through it that sucks. I'm trying to take a pragmatic approach and I'm not setting limits on how long to grieve for, because it's the kind of loss that you don't just get over. I'll learn to adjust, I'll be happy, I'll be sad, I'll enjoy life, but he's always going to be that missing piece. I know that nothing last forever, but I sure wish that all of our animal friends could stay for much longer than they do. 

What I am doing now is setting a timer when I get home and forcing myself to stay busy for those 45 minutes. It might taking a walk around the neighborhood or cleaning up. I'm just trying to make myself start to establish some kind of new normal. After those 45 minutes, I can fall apart. So far, it's helped. Actually yesterday, when I went for a walk, I was talking to my bunny the entire time. I kept asking him for a sign that he was okay on the other side, and when I stopped to tie my shoe, I noticed a painted rock somewhat buried in the grass next to me. It said "You Are My Sunshine", which was one of the things I told him multiple times a week. I know that not everyone believes in signs like that, but it gave me a small sense of comfort in that moment. 

The pain is still the worst from dusk on and that's when the tears are uncontrollable. I just let them come. I don't fight them, and don't force them. When they stop, I try to catch my breath and rest. I know it's just a long process and that in time, the sharpness of the grief will start to fade. I definitely agree that when people say thing like "he had a great life" or "he was old for a rabbit" or "it's so good that you were with him at the end", it doesn't help. I am glad I was with him at the end, I know he had a good life, and I know he was old. I just want someone to say "hey, this sucks and it's going to suck and if you just want some company, I'll be there". 

Posts: 7
hey, I'm so sorry about your baby. I lost my Border Collie, ZOE, on 9/17/19. This is the second one I've lost, it was her sister, 6 years ago. You would think after 6 yrs. one would be "over" it. But when I think of her (Dulce is her name), I still cry and miss her sooooo much. Some people will tell you "time heals and all that blah blah blah… NOT TRUE!!! Sorry to tell you, the hurt will always be there, you just learn to hid it, but it is a wound, with a scab ..and that scab gets torn off when you least expect it. Now I have to deal with my sweet ZOE, she was my best friend, and life will NEVER be the same. But I KNOW!!!! I'll see them in HEAVEN
Hang in there...

Posts: 6

I'm so sorry about your Zoe. My bunny was my best friend. I know that so many people don't get it, but we do. I know that I'll never stop missing him. I was talking to him last night and said "one day farther from you, but one day closer to forever with you". I know I'll see him again one day and there won't be any more goodbyes. But for now, it's just trying to get through the grief that is in front of me and recognizing that it's okay to grieve for as long as I need to. I've been going for a walk every day after work and am trying to slow start to change my routines. I know that it'll be okay eventually and it'll be okay for you too. We've survived 100% of the bad things that have happened and we'll survive this too. Hugs to you. 

Posts: 640
There is a phase of grief recovery that involves experiencing the pain and  feelings you have now that you never had before... and giving expression to them. For some that giving expression can be laying in bed like a zombie. For others it can be just the opposite. For someone else it can be many things. This "phase" can take a very long time to get through. And is perhaps the most difficult part of grief recovery. The earlier phase of admitting the loss has occured is very hard too. It took me really years with that. I knew my pets were not around me but I refused to say they were "dead" or they had "died". I wouldn't even use those words. Oh, you might think I am religious or something so was saying they were in the 'afterlife'? No, not at all. I simply refused in my mind to acknowledge that my girls had died. I simply could not bring myself to do it. And that as stated went on for years.  When I say grief recovery, I mean getting through all that grief throws at you. I don't mean that you suddenly wake up one morning and the fact your pet has died is A-OK with you. I mean recovering from the worst aspects of the pain. My case may be unusual in that every has taken years. I am still in recovery by the way.

Posts: 10
To #grievingmon just read you comment on here and I so hope u are right in the face that the pain will ease I know it will never go but day to day life with this is far to hard x

Posts: 640

Your pain will ease over time. For some that time can take weeks, for others months, for some years.  I don't think there are any cases on record where someone stayed for the rest of their life in that initial stage after their beloved 'pet' died. (Some like me stayed in it for what seemed like years.)  The only thing that helped was using the list on this website of the pet loss hotlines and boy did I call them. They were the only thing that gave me any solace. However in between calls I was a mess and had to keep calling. I would call all of them. You don't have to just call one.

Your pain is going to ease over time

God bless you,

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