Grief has its purposes but it takes a long time to run its course


Just when you think you’re past it, it hits you that you aren’t. And it usually hits with no small brutality.

I am talking about grief.

Max has been gone since August and I must say that the easiest day in the process was the day we had him euthanized. We’d made a grim decision and stuck to it. We made our adieus to this absolutely beloved canine, wiped our tears and then went home.

But it was a few days later that the reality hit. Somehow in the back of our minds Max was just ‘away’. He’d come home again. We’d have him back. Acceptance that he is never coming back still succeeds in tearing us up. Just having written that sentence succeeded in tearing me up. max

He is never coming ‘home’ again.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was the person who set forth the ‘stages of grief’ and there is much truth to her assertions. Our problem, I think, is that we remain stuck in denial. I mean, there is a certain acceptance, on good days, or if we are involved in something that takes us away from Max Reality and then a reminder brings it all back.

When I saw the real estate supplement (which I posted on FB) it just brought it all back home to both Wendy and me. We haven’t yet let go of our grief. Or maybe we just haven’t chosen to let go. Whatever it is. And it is the ‘never coming home’ again aspect that makes it so painful. He’s not just away for a while, but for keeps. Forever and ever.

I have lost people in my life. Friends. Parents, all of which hurt. But almost oddly the loss of Max hurts more at a certain visceral level. Because I am basically retired he was here with me each and every day. If I went out he often joined me. We also took him on vacations with us. He was a great hotel dog. Never caused any trouble. And we felt safer having him in tow.

Someday we’ll probably get another dog. Someday. But we both know we’re not quite there yet. It would somehow seem like an affront to Max who was, in our esteem, the best damn dog that ever walked the planet or peed on a tree.

I know you think the same thing about your dog. That’s what having a canine is all about.


12 responses to “Grief has its purposes but it takes a long time to run its course


    I always miss and grieve the loss of the pets I have had. Some people do not seem to understand the connection we have and how we feel such loss. It is a loss for them. I have 2 cats now and keep telling them they can never get sick and die. They just stare at me and purr.

  2. I think I have told you that, every so often, I get excited about getting another dachshund or two ~ and then I remember I won’t ever, ever get Lionel and Daisy back, and I lose interest. They’ve been gone longer than I had them, and it doesn’t matter.

    In other words, let it take as long as it takes, dear Ian, even if that’s forever. {{{hugs}}}

  3. Well that set me off again….I miss my old Alsatian and his mate…

  4. I was reluctant to read your blog as my loss is so fresh, just over 36 hrs. After a wonderful 12 year relationship with the coolest cat (The Dude Abides) and with his health getting steadily worse and the care such a daily ritual for the final two years, I now don’t know what to do with my time. No one to fuss over and annoy.
    What’s worse is the tape playing over and over in my mind of his final 4 days. He was slipping fast. The vet said to quadruple his meds. I was skeptical. It knocked him sideways so I stopped the meds altogether. He had been refusing food the way only a cat can and so I gave him an appetite stimulant.. nothing.. 48 hrs later..another stimulant..nothing. He slid further, faster. I was giving him fluids intravenously at home but he didn’t improve much.
    As I ache with his leaving us I worry I made poor decisions at the end. Certainly, I was confused, overtired.. desperate even.
    God Damn 20/20 hindsight! I had him to the vet the day before those last 4 days which were so miserable for him. He had rallied at the vets and we all felt encouraged that he was just having a bad day. But he was never going to get better and he went straight downhill from there.
    If only..what if…

    • Very touching response, Wendy, and it captures the feelings perfectly. Our old cat went at 20 and it was agonizing. He was symbolic. He was my sobriety pet, got him when I was first in the program, so his life had huge symbolic meaning for me.

  5. I am so sorry, Ian. From what I’ve learned loss isn’t something we get over, it just recedes into the background with time. I hope another special dog will find you when the time is right.

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