Quote, Unknown My Delights by Tess, 2016
It’s been 21 days since we lost Bruno. It’s been 21 days without his sweet smile or pawing my leg for a treat. It’s been 21 heartbreaking days of missing his bark. It’s been 4 Tuesdays without an 85 pound Bernese Mountain Dog walking back and forth between my legs to tell me how much he loves me. It’s been 504 hours since I scratched him behind his ears or rubbed his backside. It’s been 504 hours since we cuddled in the bed or on the sofa. It’s been 4 Mondays and 3 Saturdays with one less cookie to give, one less pup to walk with, one less pup to load in the car and enjoy a car ride. It’s been 504 hours of our lives being turned upside down. It’s been 30,240 minutes of quiet and missing him beyond anything I ever thought possible. It’s been 30,240 minutes of cycling through unimaginable heartbreaking grief, sadness, and learning how to move on.
“How are we supposed to move on,” is a question we’d ask ourselves in the middle of this soul crushing sadness. Turns out we move on by embracing our grief and sorrow and taking one step at a time. I’m learning a few things:
We’re not alone.
A lot of our friends and family understand and empathize with our loss because they’ve lost a pet too. Sharing our story allows them to share theirs and somehow, we’re all able to comfort each other.
The cycle is real.
That is, Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance and all of the stuff in between is normal when we experience loss. It’s real and we have to “let” ourselves experience them so we can feel again. There’s no time limit. There’s no “style” about it. We grieve in our own way.
And it’s kind of interesting…the grief, the tears, the sadness, the “downs” as I’ve called it, come and go. The other day was great. I was back at it, getting things done, being productive as they say. And in one moment, it’s like everything came rushing in like a tidal wave–a wave of memories and the aching and longing to hear, pet, smell, and cuddle with him again. I was in agony. A pet momma in agony. It hurt so much.
Not everyone will respond to your grief in the same way.
Each person responds to it differently and in a way you can never really predict. I’m learning who my friends are. Well, not all true. I’m learning, among my friends (and family), what they’re comfort levels are regarding sharing grief. For fellow pet owners and Bernese Mountain Dog parents, we share the devastation and sorrow of having our pups for a short time. For other pet owners, I’ve noticed they take comfort in our loss, sharing their journey, stories, struggles, and tears. Others who don’t share the pet parent journey are supportive and empathetic. While the rest, I’m learning, are unsure or uncomfortable on how to act when stuff like this happens and they see a different “version” of you. I’m learning to forgive them, because it isn’t always easy to “know” what to say or how to act.
was Is my family. He was My baby, my sweet boy.
I’m not going to belittle my grief or down play Bruno’s memory, because he may have been “just a dog” to some people. He wasn’t just a dog. He’s wasn’t “like family”. He was our family. He was our Sun and Stars. To honor his memory and our family, I’ve made a commitment NOT to apologize for my grief and sadness because he was a pet. He was more than that, he was our companion for 9 amazing years, our biggest fan, our funniest and most loyal friend.
We’ve been slowly picking up the pieces and moving on. Most of the time, moving on without him feels like the hardest part. We could be going about our day and then something, it could be a scent, a tree, the way the wind blows, or the way the light casts on the ground, or even opening the pantry door and seeing enough dog food for two reminds us of him and all of a sudden, everything feels like it’s crushing us. Some days are easier than others. Either way, there’s still an emptiness inside, a part of us is still missing. One day we’ll reconcile this grief and live with memories that comfort instead of hurt.