I don’t even know if writing a post about this on my blog is even the right thing to do or even if anyone will even bother to read. This post may be the hardest one that I ever have to write, but part of me just feels like I need to express how I feel, get all my emotions out, make myself see slightly clearer and try to help others who may be going through a similar tragedy or ever have to go through what I have been going through the past few days.
On Wednesday 9th September 2015, my dog Billy passed away suddenly at just eleven years old. It was so unexpected and so sudden that I have been in a state of shock since I found out. It all happened so quickly and I never thought that on the Tuesday night, the last night I actually saw him, when I cuddled and kissed him goodnight like I did every single night since we first got him, that it would be the last time I saw him and get the chance to show him how much I loved him. I knew as soon as it all started to happen, when he was rushed to the vets twice and was so poorly within only a matter of hours after being completely normal moments before, when I saw the look of sadness and guilt on my mum’s face, I knew that the worst really had happened. But I just didn’t want to believe it. I still had hope in the back of my mind telling me that it wasn’t true. He couldn’t be gone yet. I wasn’t ready.
Some people believe that losing a pet is not as bad as a death of a human just because they’re an animal. In some ways it might not be to others. But from my perspective, I feel like the loss of a pet is just as much tragedy as losing a member outside of your immediate family, maybe in some cases even worse. You see your pets every single day, they’re there when you wake up in the morning, they come to greet you when you return home from being out whether that’s from school or work, they enjoy keeping you company by snuggling up next to you on your bed or sofa, as well as taking them out for walks or playing toys with them out in the garden.
To me, my dog was basically my whole world. To those who have never owned a pet or have never experienced a death of a pet, you might consider me silly or pathetic for thinking that. But when you lose a pet that you had a really close bond with and considered a family member, it is so hard to come to terms with their death, when the day before they had been completely fine, their usual self, going out for walks, feeding them treats, cuddling up to them and you wake up the next day, within a couple of hours, they’re just gone and your whole world feels like it’s been turned upside down. For me a whole eleven years of seeing my dog every single day has now changed and something I am going to have to force myself to get use to.
I have had relatives that I was not very close to pass away whilst I was growing up and in the past couple of years. But because I was never as close to them as I was my dog, I never understood how hard it would be to actually lose someone who was so close to you, even if it was only a four legged animal. I never realised just how much impact my dog really did have on my life. I knew that when the day would come that he would actually die, I thought I would at least be in my early twenties with a much healthier wellbeing that what I am currently going through with my anxiety and depression, I knew that I would be incredibly upset but I never expected it to feel this bad and horrific.
I think the worst thing about it all is that I have to accept the fact that I will never see him again. Right now, I still expect him to walk through the door after being on a walk or return home from the groomers with a new haircut. Or I expect him to be there when I come home, greeting me with his tail wagging excitedly and I’ll be able to return the excitement back just as happy to see him. I wish so badly that I could see him again, even if it was for one last time.
Reality is, however morbid it sounds, I’ll never be able to experience that again and I will never get back those moments that I never imagined would be over within a flash. Although I know that within time, the feelings I experience, the sadness, the hurt, the guilt and shock will pass, I know that they will never completely go away and I will from time to time feel like I have lost him all over again, especially on times like his birthday or at Christmas. I know the emotions I feel will strike again one day.
But for now, I have to accept that he is in a better place now and whatever was wrong with him to cause such a sudden death, that he is no longer suffering or in pain. He had a happy and good life, he was spoilt rotten and pampered at any given moment. Everyone loved him so much, he had such a strong personality, he got so excited even about the smallest of things, he had many amusing moments, he gave the best cuddles and kisses and he always was concerned whenever you were upset or feeling under the weather. Even though it came to an end so suddenly and he still had years to come, I would have liked to have thought he enjoyed time with us and would want us to pick ourselves up from what has happened. I am grateful for all of the memories I shared with him and how close we came to each other the past two years, especially when I began to face my struggles with my mental health issues. Also I am thankful that the last time I did see him when he was alive, that he was happy around me and made me never even doubt that what happen could even be a possibility. He was pretty good at masking how he really felt, something I wish I could do a lot more often rather than moaning about how I feel or breaking down when I feel like I cannot cope even during the smallest of things.
I thought I would share my experience and loss on my blog, partly to help me to offload my feelings and always have something on my blog to remind me of my dog, I guess sort of like a tribute. But also I wanted to be able to help others who may be experiencing the same thing as I have never really seen anyone blog about the loss of a pet before. Maybe because it is such a tragic thing that is not easy to talk about, especially on the internet to people who you don’t know fully. But I feel if I can at least express how I feel and help someone, then I will feel like there is a positive come out of all of this and like I have achieved something by helping others.
- The grieving process is a slow one. Don’t feel bad or frustrated that after a few days you’re still not feeling back to your old self or feeling better from the situation. Adjusting to life without your pet takes time. Also don’t let anyone tell you to ‘get over it’ or ‘you’re just being silly, they were just an animal’ because it is completely normal to grieve and feel the way you do about losing a pet. You have the right to grieve.
- Don’t let guilt burden your life. It’s a natural human response to question over and over again whether or not you could have done more for your pet or been more aware of their change in behaviours. You sadly had no control over the illness or accident your pet experienced. Therefore, it is pointless to begin to blame yourself or feel guilty for what happened.
- At first it will be hard to accept that they are really gone. I still feel right now that my dog is just going to return home or run in from being outside in the garden. It is very strange to try to come to terms with that they are no longer with us but it’s all part of the grieving process. If you are really suffering with trying to accept that they are gone, then a great first step would be to remember the good memories with your pet. You could do this by placing a photo of your pet into a frame or creating a scrap book full of pictures and memories that you shared with your pet. This is a great way of remembering your pet for the positive times, it will make you feel like they are always going to be there with you and to pay a tribute to them in your own creative way.
- Don’t hide away from your emotions. Be honest with the way you are feeling because it will make it a lot easier to cope with the loss. Acknowledge how you feel and express how you feel, whether this is by crying, screaming, talking about how you feel with someone else close to you, writing about how you feel. Do not avoiding thinking about your pet. Think about all the good memories you shared together, even though they might make you feel worse or make you cry more, in the end you’ll think back on the moments you experienced with your pet and smile.
- If you suffer really bad with the loss and you feel like you’re only getting worse. Seeking professional help is not something to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Professionals can give you the right advice and guidance on how to deal with your loss. They may also be able to offer you some counselling to put a plan into place on how to continue life without them or give you the chance to fully express how you feel.
We should not feel ashamed of feeling the way we do about losing a pet because to some of us it’s like losing a friend or family member. Ignore those who make you feel bad or embarrassed to feel how you are feeling. Feel whatever the hell you want. Grieve. It’s completely normal and it will take time to you feel 100% again. Seeking help or talking to someone is not a sign of weakness either. Just think your pet would want you to be happy.
I really hope this post has given anyone going through the same situation I am currently, that you’re not alone and that how you feel is completely normal. Even if it only helps one of you.
Thanks so much for reading,
RIP Billy xxxxxxx