Saying goodbye to a family pet just hurts. We get super attached to these little fur balls we let roam about in our homes, don’t we? They become so much a part of our families as we feed them (I adore the sound of happy crunching!), play with them and love them to pieces. And we often fall to pieces when it’s time to say goodbye.
And that’s okay!! Let it out, pet mamas and papas. These little guys (and gals!) are so worth our tears.
I talked to some pet parents about the grieving process and what helped them get through losing their beloved four-legged family member.
Saying goodbye at home
When you and your veterinarian decide euthanasia is the best and most compassionate step to take, it can often be done in your own home. It’s a way to avoid the stress of travel and being in an unfamiliar environment.
Hold them close
Sometimes in-home euthanasia is simply not an option. That’s when your pet will need your comforting touch more than ever.
My sister Sarah Parker is the author of the fabulous blog Her and her dogs – plus the cat! She and her husband had hoped that when it came time to say goodbye to precious little Reese this past February that they’d be able to do so at home.
“The vet suggested that it wasn’t an option as Reese was struggling to breathe without the oxygen,” explained Sarah. “We didn’t want her to suffer. When we saw Reese again, we knew it was the right thing to do – for her. I held her in my arms, and we said goodbye to our beautiful, sweet girl.”
Writing little love notes is one thing that helps Shelia Haga with her grief. Her Sparky was her puppy soulmate. This is one of her many Facebook posts in memory of Sparky the great:
August 23rd 2018
Happy International Blind Dog Day in memory of my best friend in this world. I love you, Sparky!! You were such an amazing dog with such a beautiful smile. You could be a grump at times, but it is understandable with all you were going through. You were so happy and nothing got you down. You were and are my inspiration baby pup. This world is not the same now without you! You will always be in my heart.
Some pet owners like to give back in honor of their lost furbabies. Donna Musick took that to the next level by starting her own nonprofit (and giving her heart and soul to this charity) in memory of her basset hound Beau who lost his battle with Histiocytic Sarcoma. Beauregard’s Army of Angels offers financial assistance to families of dogs battling cancer – regardless of age or prognosis. Donna also helps provide emotional support and works tirelessly to make sure the families have access to all the resources they need.
Bringing them home
Cremation is an option that helped the Herrera family when they had to say goodbye to their beautiful pit bull Quarter, named for his silver color. Such a love!
“Quarter will forever be in our home and family,” said Mary Herrera. “He was the first “child” that Dio and I ever had. He was the first one who made us a family 12 years ago. His pit bull smile was infectious and he was always there to cuddle and make your day better. Our hearts broke and still do when we realize that he is forever gone.”
The void was palpable.
“Before we brought him back home (after being cremated) there was a very obvious vacancy in our home,” said Mary. “There was a cool draft and awkward silence that was there – even with 2 loud and bold kids. But, when we brought his ashes back, that vanished. He was home and home to stay. Our kids will still bring his ashes to the couch and tell us ‘we just want a minute with Fuzz-ball,’ which was one of our many nicknames for him. Quarter was SO much more than a family pet…he was family, he IS family. And he made us better people and a better family.”
Remember the lessons they taught us
My friend and former news reporter Leslie Earhart shared custody of her lovely Lilly. Leslie and her mom took turns spoiling Lilly completely rotten. But what they gave, came back to them tenfold.
“Her personality was like no other,” said Leslie, who is now a TBI spokesperson. “She brought so much laughter and happiness into our lives. I truly believe that God created dogs for a specific purpose. They teach us so many valuable life lessons like loyalty, forgiveness, and how we should treat those we love every time we see them.”
From the shelter to open fields. Lilly was such a happy girl.
“I’m thankful for all the years I had with her, but I sure wasn’t ready to give her up,” said Leslie. “She will forever be my angel.”
Host a party
These angels of ours deserve to be celebrated.
Teacher and yoga instructor Jill Scott knew she only had a short time left with her Jack when she decided to throw him a doggie “do” like no other — complete with cake and party favors! It simply seemed unfair to be losing her sidekick so soon and she wanted to remind him of how very loved he was. Not that he needed to be reminded.
“Jack was the best part of my life,” said Jill. “He was patient, laid back, and such a gentle soul. He was easy to love and he loved unconditionally! He helped me through some challenging years of my life and showed me strength and perseverance! He taught me to live in the moment and appreciate all that I have.”
Jack just loved life. Always. Even after his cancer took hold.
“A few of his favorite things were squeaky toys, tennis balls, homemade bread, and walks….especially long ones in nature with his grandpa!” said Jill. “He had so many friends and if you knew him, you loved him! He grew old gracefully and wagged his tail until the end.”
Treasure every moment now
Pet blogger Sarah Parker hopes we don’t take our precious time with our pets for granted. “It’s been a while since I’ve experienced this kind of grief,” she said. “It definitely does not get easier. Hug your furbies and enjoy the short time we are privileged to have with them.”
Special thanks to Aisling of Oak and Myrrh Photography for the beautiful featured image of Sarah and Reese.
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