FamilyGrief

When You Lose Your Family Dog

When you lose your dog who meant so much more than just being a pet to you, the news doesn’t really sink in at all. And you wonder if it would ever will.

You first feel disbelief. Although at some point we have tried to mentally prepare ourselves that this would happen someday, the truth is that we can never really feel ready to accept it. Your initial thoughts will be, “He/she seemed fine when I last spent time with him/her” or “This was unexpected or this came out of nowhere.” Your mind will run through all the memories you had with your dog, and how he was such a source of joy to your life.

Grief then sets in. For many of us, our dogs have become a part of our family.

My dog was my main confidant when I was growing up. Growing up I was extremely self-conscious and shy and had a fear of interacting with peers around me. My dog brought a different kind of joy into my life, and he gave me the confidence to open up more to the people in my life.

My dog always had the most expressive eyes. His head would be cocked to the side, as though he was listening intently and understanding whenever we talked to him. I choose to believe that he did.

My dog would gently lick my tears away whenever I ran out to hug him tight.

My dog was not only a blessing to me, but also to my family. We would have many evenings where we would gather all together in the living room, talking while playing with him as he listened in on our conversations.

After grieving, you’ll try to search for the bright side. Usually, when we lose a loved one we try to find our own ways to cope with the loss. When I lost a beloved lecturer last year, the way I coped was to keep in touch with my other lecturers to check if I could offer help despite being miles away. I also turned to writing my own tribute to pen all my thoughts and emotions that I felt. When you lose your family pet that has been with you for 9 years, you feel that a part of your heart is missing, and the search begins to replace that hole that was created in your heart.

When loss happens, sometimes the emotions will hit us hard and hit us quick. You soak in every single thing happening around you, all at once—the reactions and emotions of others, your own emotions, the reality of what has happened, and how you’ll be able to move forward from this. However, sometimes actual reality may sink in slowly. Your mind lingers in denial longer and blocks out what has happened. And this is the truth about coping with loss: everyone has their own way of dealing with it, and everyone will deal with it in their own time.

At the very end of the day, you’ll feel gratitude. Your family pet had a great impact on a substantial part of your life, and this is a truth that helps lead us to eventual acceptance.

My dog did his job. What do I mean by that?

My dog was both a great comfort and a great friend, both to myself and my family. My dog would dote on my father and listen attentively to his instructions, and he would silently sulk (but obey!) whenever my father gave him a bath. My mom rediscovered joy in a different way, just spending time with my dog, whether it be talking about her day or giving him treats. He created such a change in the way she felt and expressed love.

My dog brought us closer and filled in the gaps of our family with love, laughter, and most importantly, hope.

Here’s to you, Storm. Thank you for showing me a different kind of love that I never knew I would be lucky enough to experience. TC mark

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