I’ve lost my best friend. What do I do now?
Lost in Tears
Floofy, like our readers, understands. Several of Floofy’s friends have lost their dear fur kids lately and each time, well, I have to admit – Floofy cries. It is the universal experience of pet guardianship. But, that doesn’t offer much comfort to a grieving heart.
So let me outline some steps you can take that won’t necessarily make you feel better, but may give you some direction as you sort things out.
First, grief doesn’t have a time table. When Floofy lost her dear black Lab, she cried every day, multiple times a day for almost two straight months. It was like the sea had crashed over her head and wouldn’t allow her to come up for more than 30 minutes of air before pounding her down again. I won’t tell you that it will get better. I’m not that type of advice columnist. It doesn’t get better, it gets different. And like every other loss in your life, canine or otherwise, you learn to live your life just a bit differently, but never exactly the same again.
Second, do something. That could be going out with other pet parent friends who won’t scoot away from you if you tear up unexpectedly. Or if you think it is useful, go volunteer at a shelter and love on some sweet up-for-adoption fur kids. (Floofy tried that for a few months, but it hurt her heart so much she had to stop going.) Journal. Go to a pet loss support group or call a pet loss support line. Lay in the floor in the fetal position and cry (yes, Floofy has done this as well). Whatever it is, do something that allows your heart to hurt, to ache, to cry, to wish for some other ending, to mourn fully and completely and on your terms.
Third, listen to your heart when you start pondering the “when” of getting another pet. Floofy believed that she needed to wait a year after losing the love of her life pooch. But, as it turned out, what she needed most to heal her broken heart was a dog. And so she got a shelter dog six months later who was just as emotionally exhausted from being shuffled through shelters as Floofy was being without a canine in the house. You can read about our journey here and see how we healed each other.
But in the end, I’d really like to share some words that I recently offered up one of my friends upon the loss of her cat. I believe each and every word and I hope that you will find some value in them as you grieve, particularly if you are questioning whether there was anything else you could do.
I know your heartache and understand how much sorrow you feel. When my dog died I was comforted in knowing that I did everything to keep him alive and happy. There was no guilt or second guessing. That won’t matter now, of course, but you loved your baby as far as you could take her on this journey. I’m not one to say it will get easier, as my experience is that it doesn’t. It will be different. And you keep loving and you keep a space of emptiness but you open your heart to a new critter one day and it won’t be the same because you aren’t the same. But it will be love and that’s the best we’ve got in this crazy life…. Open hearted love. You are in my prayers and I sincerely share in your tears. Peace to you.