So many of my friends are grieving the loss of their precious pets. It seems like I am giving the same advice over and over of late. I am not a psychologist, but my friends seem to seek my advice as I am known to be sensitive and caring—an accidental mentor.
I have lost count of how many furry companions have left a hole in the lives of so many in the last few years. My beloved Lola and Lawrence (Larry) sired eight puppies in two different litters. Larry passed a long while ago, while Lola passed in July 2015 at 14 years old. The last of the three pups of their first litter passed a few days ago. I know each pet parent—some better than others, and most have all sought my advice after I sent my condolences.
I give mostly the same reply: “You will grieve the way you will. No one can tell you how to grieve or make you feel better with words. It will take as long as it takes for you to stop feeling the intense feelings you are feeling now.”
Furthermore, I tell them not to listen to the well meant, nonetheless futile quotes I’ve heard when I was grieving loss of my own. Statements like, “You had 14 good years with your dog. You should be grateful for that.” Or, “The pet is in a better place.” And, the best—I say in jest: “You should get another dog, cat, chinchilla, pot bellied pig or what ever, and you will feel better.”
I believe some pets are so special in a unique way that cannot be replaced. I have a friend who loves all her pets, but certain ones left a bigger hole in her heart that she could never fill. She tears up if someone mentions her first dog—she had on her own right out of college. She is now in her late 50s. His name was Harry. He was her trusted companion and the smartest dog I ever met until I was blessed with living with my Lawrence. Harry lived for, a whopping 18 years—but still not long enough to not bring her to tears at the mention to this day. To this day, I painfully re-grieve my Larry every time one of my friends loses their ‘wonder pet.’
I will continue to believe my words will help allow them to grieve the way they need.
I heard of a story that a wise man told his grandson, “Pets don’t need to live as long as us because we have so much more to learn than they.”
I want to believe our pets arrive to live with us almost perfect and have very little to learn and that’s why they can leave us too soon.