Registered: 1539391042 Posts: 43
It has been more than a year since I put my dog of 14.5 years down (or, as a part of me insists on saying, killed him). I think of him almost every day, and every time I think of him, tears are not far from the surface, a mix of grief and guilt. I don't talk to anyone about it because they would likely not understand why I am not "over it" already. The questions about when I was going to get another dog started the same week I put him down.
One of the horrors of losing him was how quickly the memories started to fade around the edges. It started in just days. It felt as if he was being erased from the universe, from my mind and heart, which is the last place he existed. As if he had never been. And so I put his pictures up and held on to his harness and his favorite toys. They are here on the bookshelf in the living room. I found pictures online of the places we used to take our walks. I documented the entire grieving process (apparently not yet over) in a journal. I made a video memorial from his pictures and watched it over and over again. But at some point, this is not healthy for me. I can't bring him back; I still don't know if there was anything else I could have done for him in his final illness. Wallowing and grieving and questioning does not make me feel good. Somehow I can't just remember the good times or the shared joy. And so I am beginning to think that I need, for my own emotional health, to move on even if that means allowing the memories to soften around the edges. But that will be losing him for real, for good, for ever. Keep him, with the pain? Or lose him, and try to move on?
Registered: 1577455592 Posts: 4
Everybody's goes through different ways to grieve. 14.5 years is a long time to share with a companion and you should take all the time you need.
This past Monday we decided it was time to put our rescue Weimaraner down after 8 years and set a date for yesterday at 4:00 for the vet to come to our house. I have been beating myself up because out of 8 years, I can only remember a handful of her 'healthier' times. I hate that I can’t remember all the good times we had and that I didn’t take one million pictures to remind me of them. I hope it doesn't seem like I am trying to make this about me. I wanted to say I understand what you mean about memories starting to fade. I think/hope the fading memory part is the minds way of helping us to slowly move on without completely forgetting what we love. I think you're beating yourself up because you feel as the memories become more clouded, you're feeling like your forgetting about him. WHICH WILL NEVER HAPPEN, EVEN IN A MILLION YEARS! Do you have to move on? Yes. Does if have to be today, tomorrow or next month, No. Moving on is not losing him and you have to tell yourself that. Fading memories is not letting go, its Father Time helping us to keep facing forward. I am sorry for your loss.
Registered: 1539391042 Posts: 43
Thank you so much for your kind words and understanding. I am sorry for your loss, too. It does seem like a betrayal to forget anything. Ideally, I would remember all our good moments, but the bad, last ones are taking precedence. I hope you find your peace as well. I remember the day after; I was shell shocked. Big hugs to you.
Registered: 1365633902 Posts: 599
I've gone through this also after having to make the dreaded decision for several of my beloved pets over the years.. I now realize that I wasn't forgetting them because even after 20 years I will still have images and memories that pop up in my mind that remind me of one of them and I know I haven't forgotten. It seems the pain in the beginning wants us to keep it alive and makes us fearful of forgetting. Moving beyond the pain doesn't mean you loved them any less and doesn't mean you will forget about them either, it just means that you at some point will remember certain things and smile and be glad about the fact they were in your life when they were.
Registered: 1556499664 Posts: 42
I'm sorry about the loss of your dog. I, too, struggle with the grief of losing our Patches. It has been close 1 year without him and I can understand what you mean by the memories feeling like they're fading. Let me start by saying that, while you might not feel comfortable talking to people about what you're going through, this forum is a great place to vent and read similar stories. I also try to avoid talking about it with my family and friends because I have also gotten the dreaded, "So, when do you think you'll get another dog?" question. Everyone in this group is understanding and is willing to listen and give advice. You are not alone in this. Everyone's path to acceptance is different. My cousins were able to get another dog within weeks of putting their other one to sleep. I, on the other hand, have been agonising over it for months now. Everyone moves through it at a different rate. When you say, "move on," maybe try saying, "move forward" instead. There's a video on YouTube I highly recommend titled, "We Don't 'Move On' From Grief. We Move Forward With It" and it's by Nora McInerny. It's a little over 15 minutes but well worth it. I watched it a few times and it helped me a lot. The way you are grieving is normal. It takes some people more time than others to get to the acceptance stage and that's totally okay. You can't force yourself to "get over it" or "move on" if you're not ready to. Someone in a post of mine replied with the advice of replacing every "bad" memory with a good one. It can be a very difficult thing to do and I struggle with it. Take small steps everyday and eventually you will start to feel better. I created a shadow box and filled it with some of Patches' shirts, toys, bowties, and his blanket. It was a nice little way to memorialise him and I always feel like he is with me. I also journaled a lot towards the beginning of the grieving process and I spoke to my therapist about what was on my mind. My grief comes and goes. Sometimes I have better days than others, but it's all part of the process. That reminds me of an article I read on Psych Central titled, "Coping with Grief: The Ball & The Box" by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. I will try to include the link if it allows me. As you go through life, remember that your beloved friend will always be with you in your heart. Even if the memories begin to fade, it does not mean that he is gone in your heart. For me, I kept replaying every single moment I spent with Patches in the hopes of keeping him alive longer. I didn't want to forget a single thing so I obsessively journaled and made myself exhausted trying to remember everything we did together. At the end of the day, I am thankful that he was in our lives when he was. He helped me through so much, but his time here on this earth has come to an end. It's difficult to accept that fact, though. I am still working on it. You will never lose someone you love. You loved him with all your heart, and that is where he will stay. Hugs, Danielle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khkJkR-ipfw https://psychcentral.com/blog/coping-with-grief-the-ball-the-box/
Registered: 1539391042 Posts: 43
Thank you. I will follow up on the links.
I was afraid to lose his memories because that is the only trace of his existence. But I found myself wondering if his effect on me was like water on rock. The channels and grooves are in the rock long after the water is gone. Thanks to you and the members of this board for words of wisdom and comfort.