Saturday, January 1, 2011

He's gone, and I am heartbroken

Today, we had to let our little boy go.  That's how I say it, because I don't want to say that I killed him.  I can't say "put to sleep," because he's not sleeping.  I can't say "put down," because it makes him sound like some wild, dangerous animal that no one cares for or loves.  We set him free from his pain and suffering, because to prolong it for our sakes would be cruel and wrong.  And yet the whole thing feels so very wrong.  I miss him so much, and hate that it came to this.

We had to make the decision that we never wanted to make, the one that of course we would make for ourselves if we could, but making it for anyone else...that's a whole other thing.  And it doesn't matter how right it was, or how much my baby isn't suffering anymore, or that it was inevitable, or that we did all we could for him, more, my vet tells me, than most would've.  It wasn't enough, and it's just unquestionably horrible.  And I have learned once again that getting the chance to say goodbye doesn't making letting go one tiny bit easier.  Watching the whole process doesn't make it make any more sense.  I keep thinking that life is just merciless.  People may be merciful, but life is not.

When we let our eldest dogter go, just 9 months after A died, I was still such a wreck from A's death, that there wasn't far to go in grieving for her, as well.  I was already grieving; it hurt a whole hell of a lot to lose her, but I was already hurting so bad that it didn't hit me quite as hard.  You can't fall down when you've been on the ground for months.

This has hit me really hard, probably, in part, because I have recovered.  I spent most of the day in a stupor, or in bed, or in a stupor in bed.  There's this numb place I can (evidently) go to where, like how you can make your eyes let go of focus and blur everything, I can let my mind blur it just enough that it isn't hammering me with its awful truth.  I know it's there, but I'm not looking directly at it and I can breathe.  And between those numb spaces, I cry until my chest hurts and my face aches, and I remember that this was how it was.  I had managed to forget, to a certain extent, exactly how it felt.  But grief has come back into my life again, and I know it so well.  So well that I know that this is normal, that I will heal eventually, that the pain can be overcome, and that, in this moment, knowing that doesn't help a bit.  It just keeps me from being scared that I will never be right again.

And yet I can't help but many times can a heart break, before it is broken irreparably?


  1. When I got the news last year (oops, no, in 2009) that our dog had died when I was on vacation, I reacted more strongly and swiftly than I had to almost anything since Charley died. In some ways, I reacted and grieved more pointedly for our dog in the immediate aftermath than I did for my husband, because I no longer had the blissful numbness of shock to insulate me. My low could be so much lower with our dog than with Charley initially, because, like you said, I knew what it was like to be flattened and crawling on the floor.

    For me, it was easier when I made the decision to help our cat die, just after the 2nd anniversary of Charley's death. I knew I wouldn't be able to emotionally handle or cope with any treatment, nor was I willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to prolong a cat's--and my--agony. A dog, if I was able to afford it, yes; a cat, no. For me, then, being able to hold the cat, cry over him, and say goodbye as the shot stopped his heart was easier for me than the shock of sudden goneness, like with Charley or our dog Chase.

    I'm so terribly sorry you're having to deal with this. I know my grief over our dog lasted far longer than I would have expected, or that I welcomed. Sending you many hugs and much love--and handing you the Kleenex box while you sob under the covers. xoxo

  2. Thanks, Candice. I'm doing better now. I miss him a lot, and the house is too quiet, but I had a long talk the other night with E after a meltdown about M, and he helped me realize that rather than M being the unjust victim of all our bad medical decisions (which is where my head had been, reasonable or not), he was actually a little 80-year-old man with multiple health problems, and that we DID give him the best and longest life he could've had. That helped a lot. As does the sympathy of friends who understand that dog love is real love, and don't dismiss the grief of losing them.

  3. (((((HUGS)))))) I'm so, so sorry, Phoenix. :*(

    Our dog is old. She has a heart murmur, and probably congestive heart failure. It's only a matter of time. I'm dreading it.

  4. Thanks Hira. And hugs to you right back. It really sucks.

  5. Dear P,

    it's april 2015 and I am reading your blog from beginning to end. you probably will never even see this, but I am just hoping that putting it out into the either will somehow drop upon you like a furry. warm cloak and offer some even tiny comfort, and that you will feel that Grace you have been wondering about. I am a widow, nearly 2 years out. mostly I am alone after the Love of my Life died next to me in our bed - while we were both in remission for 2 incurable cancers at the same time. my dog, who had such a deep and loving connection with both my husband and with me has been a life line of such affection and joy. 8 weeks after my husband died, I was diagnosed with another cancer, and through a grueling 9 months of treatment I credit my Sadie for helping me stay alive. actually I took great pleasure in thinking of all the ways I could die - bleed out, be overdosed on the anesthetic, die of a heart attack on the operating table et. al. - but my poor girl, to have lost her Dad, then have to suffer losing me, kept me feeling obligated to stay alive. now I read your post and wish so much I could give you a REAL hug, a shoulder to cry on. I am so very sorry for what you have had to go through with the death of your dear companion, and am sending you waves and waves of virtual hugs to offer even a modicum of comfort in your sorrow.

    with sympathy and understanding,

    Karen (Sutherland)

    1. Dear Karen,

      I did get your note; the blog still emails me notifications, and I still post to it now and again. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I hope it helps you in some small way; it helped me to write it. Take care, and hugs back to you.