Tag Archives: grief

Journey.

Grief is an interesting journey. I don’t handle change well.

After a few “good” weeks in which the pain I felt over losing Penny has been manageable with few tears – it all came crashing down Tuesday night. I started sobbing and couldn’t stop it.

I’m grieivng more profoundly for the loss of my dog than I have humans that I’ve loved. The first person that I had a relationship with that died was my great aunt Helen when I was 11. I remember feeling that sick sweaty going to pass out feeling when we went to view her body. I spent what felt like an eternity in that room with my mom staring at her body convinced she was breathing.

I lost my great grandmother, whom I was very attached to a couple of years later. The loss of my dad’s mother whom I didn’t have much a relationship followed the next year. A man I knew in college who spent about 6 months asking me out shot himself while his girlfriend was 7 months pregnant. It was a tragedy and very hard to comprehend. We ended up being good friends despite my refusals. I was dating someone at the time or I might have considered it.

There have been losses in between but the most earth shattering was the loss of my grandfather in 2007.

Growing up I was incredibly close to him. At times we lived with them or very near them so he played a huge role in my life. I respected him and loved him. At times due to his alcoholism I hated him. He was a good man. He had dealt with cancer off and on but the last time when I saw him in September I just knew. His doctors had told my family 6 months to a year. But I knew. I found out I was pregnant with Katelyn 8 days before he died. I was so happy he knew about her and told my mom several times the day before he passed that he was going to be a great grandfather again. Sam is the only guy I’ve ever dated that he really liked and that always meant a lot to me too.

I feel like I had delayed grief when he died. Around the time of his funeral my hyperemesis morning sickness kicked in and I spent most of my days (and nights!) throwing up. I lost almost 30 pounds in my first trimester and I ended up so focused on trying to have a healthy baby that the sadness I felt at his passing was put on the back burner. In retrospect it was a good thing. I wish he would have had the chance to meet Katelyn. She would have had him wrapped around her finger and would have easily earned the title of “greatest” great grand baby  He joked with the rest of them at different times that they were the “greatest” and I know she would have been the favorite – because of course I’m the favorite grandchild…

The loss of Penny is different. I suppose it is harder to let go of someone that is with you every second you are home versus a family member that you love from a distance. It’s really shown me how profound her role was in my life. She and Miles saw me through some very rough patches and at one point probably saved my life. That’s a story I’ll save for another day. I’m appreciating Miles more. Although I had him before Penny I feel like I was bonded more to her. Perhaps it was because she was more of a snuggler and more in tune with my feelings and he’s always been my rough and tumble boy dog. But lately, he needs to snuggle as much as I need to snuggle. He will be 9 on October 15th. I am dreading it. It’s his first birthday without Penny.

I’m dreading the first snow too. She loved to run around like crazy in fresh snow and would sneak out on the deck to eat it. I’m dreading Christmas and pulling out her stocking. In many ways, I feel like I’ve lost a child. I was able to take her ashes out of that horribly offensive gift bag and they are sitting on the mantle now. The box she came in is cherry wood and actually really beautiful. I had shopped for urns before she was returned and found a few I liked but for now I feel at peace with what she’s in. We hadn’t planned on showing Katelyn her ashes because I wasn’t sure she could really grasp what it meant but she begged one night. I decided it was better for us to share them with her than her sneak in and open the box herself. I have never seen cremation ashes so my heart was in my throat when we all sat down to open the box.

They were beautiful. I don’t know if it’s true of all ashes, but hers almost have a rusty tint like her fur. I was just so glad to have my girl home no matter how she came home. Some day I think I’ll take them to our favorite spot in Lubbock and let her be totally free.

Lately I’ve found myself looking more at dogs available for adoption and not feeling revolted at the thought of bringing one home. Some day I know we’ll have another dog. No dog will ever replace Penny but I know she would be happy we saved a life like we saved hers.

And Miles needs a friend.

The past two days have been better and I’m thankful. This grief journey is exhausting. And enlightening. The one thing I do know is that when Penny found us, she took a big piece of my heart. And now that she’s gone, she’s left me with a big piece of hers and I am forever grateful for that.

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Empty.

I stood by your bed last night, 
I came to have a peep.
I could see that you were crying, 
You found it hard to sleep.

I whined to you softly 
as you brushed away a tear,
“It’s me, I haven’t left you, 
I’m well, I’m fine, I’m here.”

I was close to you at breakfast, 
I watched you pour the tea,
You were thinking of the many times, 
your hands reached down to me.

I was with you at the shops today, 
Your arms were getting sore.
I longed to take your parcels, 
I wish I could do more.

I was with you at my grave today, 
You tend it with such care.
I want to re-assure you, 
that I’m not lying there.

I walked with you towards the house, 
as you fumbled for your key.
I gently put my paw on you, 
I smiled and said ” it’s me.”

You looked so very tired, 
and sank into a chair.
I tried so hard to let you know, 
that I was standing there.

It’s possible for me, 
to be so near you everyday.
To say to you with certainty, 
“I never went away.”

You sat there very quietly, 
then smiled, I think you knew…
In the stillness of that evening, 
I was very close to you.

The day is over… 
I smile and watch you yawning
and say “good-night, God bless, 
I’ll see you in the morning.”

And when the time is right for you 
to cross the brief divide,
I’ll rush across to greet you 
and we’ll stand, side by side.

I have so many things to show you, 
there is so much for you to see.
Be patient, live your journey out…
then come home to be with me.

~Author Unknown 

 

 

The tears are coming freely today. I ordered a book a few nights ago called Dog Heaven. It was on the front porch this morning. It’s a children’s book but had a lot of good reviews. It was very sweet and helped me paint a nice picture of Penny peacefully there. I’ve seen this poem before and right now it’s offering even more comfort than the Rainbow Bridge. I want so badly to feel her with me. To hear her toes clicking on the hardwood floor. Or her tags jingle as she runs. Today is a “too soon” day. I have days when I feel at peace with our decision to put her to sleep. Other days, like today, I feel like I should have tried harder. I should have fought harder for Penny. But then I remember her eyes looking up at me after the seizure. She looked so sad, so lost. I had prayed for a sign to know it was “time” and that morning, on the floor in the dark her eyes told me she was tired. When I think about her eyes, sometimes I feel like I waited “too long.”

It’s always amazed me that after someone close to me dies, life goes on. Even when you feel like your world has totally stopped – you still wake up, go to work, take care of children, eat, sleep – though poorly, function. All with a heart in pieces. I am grieving for her more than I have for people that I’ve lost. Maybe because she was a constant and here. You learn to love people in your life from far away. Grandparents you don’t see every day. Miles between you but the love is still there. It was different with Penny. There weren’t many times in our 8 years that we were apart for long. Maybe that’s why the emptiness is so profound.

When I take Miles for a walk, my other hand instinctively still grips a leash that is not there. I’ve stopped expecting to see Penny when I get home. But the emptiness is still here.

Part of me feels like her death was a signal that it’s time for serious changes. Home is not home anymore. We’ve wanted to move for awhile but now I have this primal urge to empty out this house and be done with it. Change has an awful lot going for it – even when it seems scary at times. A new house won’t make me miss her any less but I think mentally I will be in a better place at that point.

Before she got sick – I couldn’t imagine life without her. And now that life without her is a reality – I hate it. I hate life without Penny.

I miss my girl.

 

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It will be a good day.

My facebook status this morning – except I typed it three times for good measure.

And then I saw that it was National Positive Thinking day.

We woke up at 5 this morning to beautiful loud thunder. The whole house was up. It eventually started raining to which my little weather girl does not venture far from a window or sitting outside on the deck. We finally fell back asleep which led to a nightmare and oversleeping. Oops.

I had a dream that Katelyn died. It was horrible.

I’ve prayed so much that I would dream about Penny. And instead I’m dreaming about my human baby dying. I woke up and kissed her sweaty sleeping forehead.

I’ve got to get out of this. We have so much to be thankful for. We’ve grown up so much the past 5 years. We’ve become responsible adults.

Life is good.

Even on the bad days. Even on the sad days. Life is good.

We are a family (minus one.) And although my heart hurts, I know Penny was loved immensely. And she loved immensely in return.

Some day the aching will be less noticeable. Some day I will be able to look at pictures and smile without tears. Some day we will open our hearts and home to another dog who needs love. Some day I will see my girl again.

And until that day, life is good. I am okay. I am strong. I will be better.

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Penny.

It’s been two weeks since the last good night with Penny. Tomorrow will be two weeks since I had to say goodbye.

It’s been one week since Penny “came home.” It’s been one week since I’ve broken down in tears.

And tonight I sobbed. I sobbed and gasped for air. When will I stop expecting her to come running when I get home? I really feel like this is all a horrible nightmare and I will just wake up and she will be here.

I think I’m back in the denial phase. I actually took a college class about the stages of grief. I hate that I can pinpoint the exact “stage” when I’m in it.

I think I would give almost anything to have just one more good day with Penny.

I’m so glad Miles is getting better. The time I spend with him makes me feel closer to her and it makes the bleeding hole in my heart feel less pronounced.

8 years is a long time to love. 8 years is a lot of days of kisses and tail wagging.

I don’t think I will ever get over her.

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The last straw?

I’m seriously questioning a lot of things lately.

Let me sum up the past two weeks quickly:

Co-worker takes 3 week vacation. I get stuck taking care of her job. And mine.

Dog is sick. Have dog put to sleep. Immense guilt.

Other dog is sick. And hospitalized.

Bank account gets hacked. Card is declined at vet. Embarassment ensued. Thankful at 8 pm when I realize WHY the card got declined.

The very next day – I get a traffic ticket.

I sobbed. Over the ticket.

Thankfully, Miles is on the mend and got to come home. He’s still sicky but he’s working really hard at acting like himself.

And I am exhausted. I am burned out. I want to stomp and cry and hold my breath until I turn blue.

I could not wait for August to be over and September to creep in. Now September is shaping up to be as yucky as August.

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Enough is enough is enough.

Miles started throwing up last night. I sat up with him until about 1 when I couldn’t fight to keep my eyes open any longer.

This morning, same thing. Throwing up. I called the vet in a panic because I cannot lose him too.

It was so hard going back there. The first thing I saw when we got to the desk were gift bags from Pets at Peace. Gift. Bags.

I felt my blood boiling. My dog is dead and being returned to me in a gift bag with gold and green paper. Seriously.

Except after checking – MY dog isn’t even there yet. 10 bags. 10 dogs all put to sleep last week. And my girl isn’t even ready.

The vet checked a few things and declared that Miles is suffering from grief induced Colitis. No food or water and a re-check tomorrow.

He is sad. My boy is grieving. And it’s making him sick.

He’s thrown up most of the day despite having any more food or water. I’m trying to not go crazy and call the vet for every sigh and gag but it’s so hard.

I had this horrible thought in the back of my mind that maybe they had been poisoned and that he was just starting on the road Penny was on. Or that he would grieve himself to death.

The vet’s advice? Take him to pick out another pack member. Since he was a puppy when Penny came the vet said he likely will never adjust to being a “one dog pack.”

My heart sunk. As much as I know we’ll get another dog some day I can’t imagine it happening any time soon.

He’s spent the evening either hiding in the bathroom or falling over at my feet. I really don’t know how to help him. I mean reasoning with him isn’t helping. Telling him he can bark at Penny in Heaven (Katelyn) isn’t helping.

I suppose time will heal all wounds.

It did give me a chance to really talk to the vet. Thursday all happened so fast. After Penny was gone and I had managed to drag my sobbing self out – she had a post-mortem exam. Her head had visible swelling. He advised that something had ruptured or she had brain swelling. She could have lived several miserable days at home before her body gave out. I was able to spare my girl some pain.

And that helped.

I also found one single Penny hair on my desk when I got to work. I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my mind and signs are everywhere.

Now if only Sam would get home and I could actually prepare for a long drive and yucky morning.

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Feathers.

It’s been a rough few days. Each morning around 11 my heart sinks all over again. But today I think I finally realized that the seizure Penny had was horrific. In the 30 minutes that I watched her going through it I was terrified. When she came out her eyes were so sad. 

And I did what I did out of love. I put aside my selfishness of wanting her to live forever and did what I had to do to give my girl some peace. I let go of my expectations and realized she did not deserve to suffer. I really think she held on because of me.  I never dreamed I would lose her so soon. 

Today Katelyn and I took Miles to the park. Miles, Penny and I used to go to the park in Lubbock a lot when I was stressed or worried and we would walk forever. It was the one time I felt I could truly think. 

And today, with just one dog and my other hand clenched like I was holding two – we walked. 

There is a huge void here and one I’m not sure will ever go away. I’ve prayed and prayed to God for a sign that she is happy and knows that I love her. I think they’ve been all around me but I’ve been too grief stricken to notice until tonight. 

Katelyn and I took Miles for another walk tonight around the block and about two houses down from ours we started watching a feather that floated gently by us to the end of the block. It then fell at my feet. I scooped it up and said a prayer.

If you’ve met Miles then you know he hates birds. They cannot land on the deck near his water or food without him going crazy.

I found it very fitting that my “sign” was a feather and perhaps my girl wanting to annoy Miles just a little. 

And at times the tears feel like they will never stop coming. But other times I think of her and smile. 

Penny was my soul mate. She stuck by me through some of the hardest times in my life. And somewhere deep inside I know she’s still sticking with me whether that be in spirit or in my heart.

 

That will have to be enough for me tonight.

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Tears still coming.

Mornings are worse than the rest of the day. I wake up and feel like it’s all been a horrible dream.

I’ve started to realize that letting her go was an act of love and not something to feel guilty about. I loved her enough to let her go. To rest. To have peace.

After she died, her eyes were open. And for the first time in weeks they looked like her eyes. Her healthy, happy, not lost eyes.

I think that should have been enough for some peace for me too.

I keep seeing weird signs. I’ve prayed and prayed God will allow me to see her one more time just to know that she is happy, healthy. Okay.

That she knows I did it because I loved her. I think these signs have been all around me and I’ve been too consumed with guilt and grief to see them. 

I keep reading message boards etc and everyone says “get another dog.” One day we will – in honor of our girl. We have a lot of love to give and the best way to honor her is to save another life. Like we saved hers. Like she saved mine. 

But not now. Probably not soon. A few days ago I swore I would never, ever, ever have another dog. I would love Miles and go through this hell again with him when it was time but I would never do it again.

But as I watch him mope around the house and remember that Penny hasn’t truly played with him in years like she used to – I think another dog might be what we all need. Miles is still relatively young. He still has a lot of energy. If I could find a dog that he could love and accept too.

But not today. Not next week. Probably not in 6 months.

I keep thinking I will feel better when her ashes come home. She will be home. It will not be the same but at least a tiny piece of the empty will go away. The vet told me it may seem like it takes forever because of the long weekend. It has. 

I feel like I am the only one missing her, aside from Roxy and Miles. And that hurts.

I’m so thankful Katelyn is still at the age that she can talk about Heaven and smile and move on. 

I know Penny is in Heaven and that she will wait for me. I was just not ready to let her go. If I could run back and grab her off the table I would. 

I feel like I will never get over this.

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Ache.

I woke up this morning with the undeniable sting that something was wrong. I cannot believe how much I am grieving. Even years ago the sheer thought of losing Miles or Penny used to bring a tear to my eye so I knew it was going to be rough but the helpless feeling is so overwhelming.

Last night I thought I was going to get a bath alone (without a four year old and her 50 thousand cold toys!) and I was actually dreading being alone – even just to take a bath. The past few nights when I would bathe or shower in the mornings Penny would come in and try to jump in with me. Years ago, healthy Penny would come lay in the bathroom to wait to lick water or lotion off of my legs.

Anyway, about 30 seconds after I started the water -in come the cats. And they sat on the edge of the tub the whole time I was in there. So, I’m never really alone at our house. It was nice.

Roxy is really grieving for Penny which is surprising to me. They were buddies but I thought the addition of the kitten would help. She goes to places she’s never hid before and stays there until Sam comes home. She comes out to eat and retreats back. The day it happened, she laid in the spot on the floor where Penny had the seizure off and on for hours.

Miles does a morning walk through of the house and even asks to look in the garage. Last night I was holding her collar and he came over to investigate. He smelled it and again made that awful deep sound I’ve never heard from him. He then wagged his tail and clicked away. He is doing much better than  I thought he would and I am grateful for that.

Katelyn is really doing okay too. Yesterday she asked to say a prayer for Penny and it went something like this “God, please take good care of Penny. She needs medicine and a new body. I know that she is playing and happy. Tell her we love her and we miss her a lot. And be sure to get her her medicine. Amen.”

I cried happy tears after that.

Dogs do go to Heaven right?

I made it until about 9 last night before crumbling into pieces. Yesterday I had resolved that Penny used to hate when I cried so I should stop. That got me through the day. I even shopped for urns without crying. We are having her cremated because this is not her home. And I will not leave her here. They really do have some beautiful options for animals.

When her ashes come home we will have a memorial. I keep telling myself it is for Katelyn (she asked if we could get lots of flowers like we did for Great Grandma when she passed) but I really think it’s for me.

I’ve really started noticing the differences between Miles and Penny now that she is gone. Penny wanted to be inside. She wanted to be near me. Miles prefers the yard. He will come in for a quick snuggle and want back out. He won’t sleep with me at night. He’s much more independent. Though as I type this, sitting in the floor, he is snuggled up to my leg.

The last few weeks I’ve dedicated every second to her. When she slept, I researched online. I stayed up all hours of the night trying to soothe her to sleep or flying up in a panic to find her and make sure she hadn’t died. She was starting to consume my life in a way that a healthy dog does not. So now it’s more empty than ever.

And I would do it all again in a heartbeat.

I miss my girl.

 

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Letting go.

I’ve been up for 2 hours and have not cried today. We took Miles for a ride last night after Sam got in and I got so overwhelmed that we had to come home so I could throw up. I’ve managed to sleep though not well. And I still wake up earlier than I need to.

I feel like 5:30 – 6:00 in the morning was our witching hour. It was when I would wake up and stumble through the house until I found her. Two of those times in the middle of seizures.

I keep thinking if I could just have a sign that she is okay, that she doesn’t hate me for killing her. Mike saw her in a dream the night she died. I was angry that she had not come to me. Why can’t my subconscious be nice and give me that peace?

And then my little woke up.

“Good morning, momma. I saw Penny and Belle and they were playing in Heaven. They were running and running. Penny told me not to cry.”

And the weight has lifted. Penny wouldn’t want me to be this way. She’s forgiven me for leaving to go to work, for having a baby, for getting a cat. She will forgive me for the euthanasia. I know dogs don’t fear death like humans and they live for the moment. And I know on Thursday she just wasn’t feeling up to living for her favorite things anymore. I keep trying to convince myself that I gave Penny the greatest gift of all – peace. She needed to rest.

I hope someday I also dream about her. I think I will miss her for the rest of my life.

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