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River

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Posts: 262
 #1 

When our yellow lab, River was killed by a car 9 months ago, I was deeply angry with my daughter and blamed her. He had been on an outing with her at the time and I felt I had entrusted her with his life and she broke that trust. I also tortured myself with guilt, thinking that I should never have let her take our two ‘boy’ on outings by herself because I knew that she took risks that I never would, all in the name of fun and adventure. The guilt and blame was relentless. Eventually, I found all kinds of reasons to feel guilty, like had I spent more time training him, it might not have happened and if I hadn’t let him get overweight, he might have made it across the highway, since he nearly had made it across before being hit. Then I began to feel guilty that I had brought him home to be a companion to our other dog. Had I not, then he would be living happily with another loving family. That thought still kills me but then I realize that had it not been River, it would have been another beloved dog. A grief counselor told me these feelings were a barrier to my progress through my grief. Well, that may be, but I was powerless to change my feelings. It occurred to me a long while after that my daughter didn’t do anything recklessly with the intention of putting him in harm’s way. Like my dear husband and his mother, she wears rose-colored glasses and simply does not see danger. I imagined that they might return from an outing one day with any one of many minor injuries, but never one that would end one of their lives. If only I could have known. But none of us can.

Recently my other daughter read an article in her psychology magazine she subscribes to. It said that when we want something with our conscious mind, our sub-conscious mind goes to work to figure out how to obtain it. It’s an explanation for how we can sometimes beat insurmountable odds or rise above adversity to succeed.  I wonder if this has anything to do with the guilt that we torture ourselves with. We want our babies back and our subconscious mind works feverishly in an attempt to make the impossible happen. But of course we can’t change the past, we can only influence the future.

No one, especially those that gather here would ever do anything to intentionally put their babies in harm’s way. Every one of us would go to the ends of the earth to prevent the illness and tragedy that takes our babies from us.

I wish everyone here the strength and courage to continue to work through their grief and the inevitable guilt that we are almost always plagued with.

Mary



 4288_86402172117_500472117_1837922_.jpg River saving Shadow picture by marymcdonald

11845_193133637117_500472117_300504.jpg Shadow sitting on River picture by marymcdonald

PamGarland

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Posts: 315
 #2 
It is the guilt that haunts me.  No matter how much I rationalize things, I feel I cannot make amends for the poor decisions I made at the end of his life.  With his multitude of health problems I had ample time to work out his end of life details and then I fell apart and did the wrong things.  I know it's my issue; he is happy and well in heaven.  So I go on but I don't forgive myself yet.  
leonor

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Posts: 214
 #3 

Thank you for your words, River. I am very sorry for your loss. I've also been overwhelmed by guilt for 5 months since Sashimi died...

Darian

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Posts: 282
 #4 

I love this post.  It rings so true for me.  I've been over our scenario too many times. Feeling guilt and trying to figure out what I did wrong.  How I can change it.  But it's not to be.  I agree with the psychology magazine.  Our minds must be trying to get our loved ones back by going over it and over it until it works out the way we want it to.   I can't believe he's gone but then again I guess, we all will be one day.  And we can only hope that someone cares as much about us in our end days as we cared about these babies. http://www.petloss.com/mbphotos3/captain.jpg

Mare

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Posts: 11,059
 #5 
The grieving process is really something.  Even when our pets are not killed by an accident, many of us blame ourselves for not doing more and this does make it harder to overcome our losses.  Our babies mean so much to us and we are so miserable without them to bring joy to our stressful days.  I am glad you are making progress.  River is a happy pooch at the bridge with the wonderful company of all of our much loved and missed babies.

Mare
precious Christoph ~ 2 years at the bridge ~

River

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Posts: 262
 #6 
Pam, in your original post about Riley, you described how he fought so many health issues. But he did not fight alone, he had someone who loves him with with all of their heart and soul fighting tirelessly alongside him every step of the way. Someone posted, and it might even have been you, that guilt is anger turned inwards. I don't know if I will ever be able to forgive myself either, but I no longer dwell on the guilt and the anger, thankfully has subsided.

I'm so sorry Leonor, I posted a message on your new thread. I know that the guilt is overwhelming you. You too, fought valiantly to save your beautiful Sashimi. I wish the outcome had been different for you. 
KatLover

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Posts: 842
 #7 
Thanks for your post, I found it very interesting what your daughter read and told you, and I think it makes a lot of sense with grief and guilt.  And "even" people like myself whose pets live years beyond their expected lifespan feel guilty.  I think we are trying to find a "way out" of feeling pain, and guilt and blame is one way.  Basically a good part of our lives really is at the mercy of things beyond our control--and how far do we go to keep our pets safe? 

Pam--I hope you can forgive yourself, I am sure you did the very best, and I know your little guy would not want you to torture yourself.  I don't think many of us feel we handled the end that well, myself included. 

john82

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Posts: 31
 #8 
Anyone else have a problem with just not being able to remember anything but the "bad" times like when you punished them for something that seems completely trivial now or wasn't even their fault at all, the times when you didn't give them attention cause you were doing something trivial, etc?

I am having a problem with nothing but those memories popping into my head.  I can remember the good memories but I have to focus and really think hard about it whereas all the bad memories seem to always be around in the back of my mind.
PamGarland

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Posts: 315
 #9 
Yes, John, I can remember the times I told him I'd be right back and play with him as soon as I finished some stupid task that could easily have been done later but I had it on my to do list.  I can remember the times I left him at the vet and trusted them not to hurt them and then they did. Those type of memories pop up all the time and I don't know why.  
River

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Posts: 262
 #10 

It's so true John. Just a week or two before River was killed. I had said that I wasn't looking forward to walking my two big boys in the winter. It's never too cold for them. And I made a passing comment to my husband that if something happened to one of them, I didn't think we would get another. I thought God took him to punish me for taking him for granted. River used to bark at everyone, unless of course they had a dog with them, then they were OK. He was quite a barker, especially for a lab. I used to get annoyed occasionally when he dug up my newly planted plants in the garden. I never got angry with him but I did occasionally scold him and afterwards, all I could think of was if I could only have him back, he could bark and dig all he wanted. And you're right, those kinds of thoughts are always nearby ready to surface and feed feelings of guilt.

LoriDR

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Posts: 2,123
 #11 
Oh ((((((((((Mary)))))))))))

I so wish I could help you with that guilt. I'm sorry I'm a day late (dollar short, heh) for this post. I've been dealing with health issues in between having busy days these days, but that's another story.

Of course ... here I go again ... with my own opinion on the subject ...

Put yourself in one of our shoes here, and say that this situation with River didn't happen to you, but it happened to one of us. Would you think we were to blame? If not, than why blame yourself? Why is it that you feel others are allowed your compassion for their situation, but you aren't allowed to give yourself the same compassion and let go of that guilt? I know, I understand it's not a simple thing to just say "let go" and it's gone.

Trust me, I've been there telling people, "I can't just turn it off like a switch." But the good news is, the things that have tormented me in the past, over time, I've come to understand them and put them behind me. I know you are working on yourself, and those of us who do, will find peace eventually.

I leave you with one more statement. It goes like this:
<<
No one, especially those that gather here would ever do anything to intentionally put their babies in harm’s way. Every one of us would go to the ends of the earth to prevent the illness and tragedy that takes our babies from us. >>

Guess who said that? Yup, you did. If you know this, than there really is no place for guilt. You would've gone to the ends of the earth for your River. We know it, and perhaps you'll start believing it for yourself too.

River

Registered:
Posts: 262
 #12 
You're never too late Lori! Your posts always make me think. You are absolutely right. Those are my words, and I sincerely mean them when I say them. I kinda feel as though my personal punishment must match the years that River was cheated from in the same way that the depth of our grief must match the love we had/have for our babies. I know there is something a little off with that thinking and I'm still trying to figure it out. I think I know or at least hope that he is happy where he is now, but it is hard sometimes to remember that.
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