moving forward

The hardest day of my life…

Two weeks ago, today, I lost my best friend. While some may say Sammy was just a pet, I will argue that losing my beloved dog was just as hard, if not harder than losing a family member.
The night before he died, he was acting very strange. He didn’t want to eat, and he would barely get up to get a drink of water. In the past, he’s had a few episodes of this happening, so I had hoped he just wasn’t feeling well. His nose was cold, he appeared to be in no pain, and all he wanted was for me lay with him. And that’s exactly what I did. I skipped my planned run, and laid on his bed with him on the floor. Occasionally he would get up to drink, and he would eat the ice cubes I fed him. Other than that, he slept and snuggled with me. When it came time for bed, we moved his bed into our bedroom like we do every night, and we got him settled and gave him more love. We had decided should he not be feeling better on Wednesday, we’d take him in to the vet.
I woke up when my alarm when off early Wednesday morning, and he was laying near his bed on the floor. When I reached out to touch him to see how he was doing, I immediately knew he was gone. I screamed for my husband, and nearly collapsed in grief. My Sammy was gone, and there was nothing I could do to get him back. I was literally hysterical. The days following were torturous, and it took everything I had not to cry uncontrollably. Instead we’d have moments of breakdowns, first me, then my husband, then my daughters…but we seemed to know when one person needed comfort, and we rallied around each other, holding hands, hugging, and taking turns breaking down.
Sammy was a part of every single day of my life for the last 11 ½ years. He got me through postpartum depression, he was there during deployments and extended periods of time for my husband’s Army training…but most of all he was always there when I got home from work to greet me with kisses and tail wags. He LOVED to help me cook dinner, and always patiently waited for bits of food to fall on the floor. He loved to sleep with us, and his soft breaths were the last thing I heard before falling asleep every night. He truly was my everything.
Without him I am lost. I look for him everywhere, even though I know he isn’t there…but last night I could feel him with me. When I was driving home from work I saw a red cardinal cross my path and I smiled. My friend Tracey had asked me the other day if I had seen signs of Sammy’s presence. I hadn’t until I saw that cardinal. Last night I went for a walk/run (it was 92 degrees, running is a struggle in those temps), and in my short 3 ½ mile walk, I had three more cardinals cross my path WHILE the song, “Beloved” by Mumford and Sons played (lyrics here)
Sammy will be forever missed. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel the physical ache in my chest knowing he’s gone. But man did we love that dog, and he loved us back equally. And it’s that love that he gave to me every single day that I miss. He taught me to love in a way I never knew I could. He was FAMILY, and losing him has been the toughest thing I have experienced in my life.
For Sammy, I will move forward, as hard as it is. All he cared about was getting and giving love. I pray I can continue his legacy by living life to the fullest each and every day. I will make more of an effort to be present in life, and to never let those I love have any doubt about how I feel. May his sweet soul rest in peace.

sammy

Have you ever lost a pet? How do you handle the rude “why not just get another dog?” comments, as if my Sam was some disposable item that can be replaced? Do you have any tips to handle the grief?

Cheers,

Michelle

 

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31 thoughts on “The hardest day of my life…

  1. I’m so so sorry. It’s awful. They are family. Often the people saying that just have no idea. I’m probably the worst person to provide advice here, I’m crap at sorting myself out. We lost our girl cat this year. Daisy was so loved. But a couple of months later we can at least start to think more about all the good memories. Take care. xx

  2. Regarding the rude comments, it comes from a place of not understanding the relationship. For some people it does actually ease the pain and help them, for others it does not. It is not a matter of replacing your fur baby, but a matter of finding a new fur baby to love.

    I miss my Duncan and have his ashes on my dresser. Putting him to sleep was the hardest thing I have had to do, but he was in so much pain from the cancer I had to. I find for me, when I feel that sadness I pray. I tell him how much I miss him and talk to him like he was here. I also allow myself the grace to grieve and cry. It took a few years to get to a place that I don’t feel sad and constantly look for him, but it does happen. Hugs, be gracious to yourself and allow yourself to grieve

  3. I understand the experience of losing a pet. My daughters lost their precious house cat after she had been with us for several years. She was exhibiting strange behavior during her final days, such as jumping up on the kitchen counter (which she never did before). We were away from home over a long weekend, and she had passed while we were away. The experience was a difficult one, especially for my oldest daughter. She had received Princess from a classmate in kindergarten.

  4. My German Shepherd, Gabriel moved from Ft Drum, NY as a little puppy to Tampa, Fl. He then was with me through a divorce, major illness, and moving again.
    Gabriel was not just a dog, but my son. One day while my daughter was a freshman in college, Gabriel just slowed down. He stopped eating and I talked to him like a little kid telling him he had to eat. I will never forget because it was a Sunday and I was taking him to the vet the following day. He made it through the night. He seemed happy when I loved on him before I left for work Monday morning. I had a funny feeling and went home at lunchtime to check on him, but he was gone. I cried and cried. I cried every day when I opened my door and he wasn’t there. This was back in 2005. Gabriel was 10 years old when he died and I swore to never get another dog/puppy. I eventually did get one but I don’t have the same connection. Remember that if you do get another dog, it’s just that – another dog. A different dog. Not a replacement. He/she will have a completely different personality.

    I have Gabriel’s ashes and they are in my home office next to a picture of him smiling.
    People who have never been lucky enough to have this type of love from an animal probably won’t understand. The grief is real. The hurt and pain is very real. It takes time but it will get better.
    Give yourself and your family time to grieve for Sam. Your feelings are completely normal.
    Best of luck to you & yours!

  5. I lost my Maggie Mae 5 years ago this month. We picked her out as a pup and there was hardly a day she was not near me, she was the classic Velcro dog. When her health declined I dreaded the day….walking with her to the car knowing what was coming was the single most difficult day, next to getting the call my Dad had passed. As the days have passed since she crossed the rainbow bridge, it still hurts, just not that aching feeling.

    I give people a lot of Grace when they make their off-handed comments and honestly I feel bad for them. It is apparent to me at that moment that they never have known that complete unconditional love of a pup, that bond, nor what it is like to have them meet you Every. Single. Day. So I hold my tongue, smile and usually say “in time.”

    To this day I still have her paw print and dog tag on my night stand. And I also found someone on Etsy that took 12 of her nicknames (she had so many more lol) and she used the names to create the shape of a yellow lab (gold writing with sparkling crystals). The picture is in my dining area and is near my front door, so essentially she is still greeting me every day.

    I wish you much comfort as you work through your grief. Take your time and remember your pup fondly as he loved and adored you.

  6. Our pet are a huge part of our families, as I write this comment with Bennie laying between my legs and the laptop resting on his butt…the way we usually sit, when we take time to sit. Yeah, I understand the grief you are experiencing, but the love, smiles and memories they gave us will last the rest of our lives also. The hole in your heart will be filled with the love that he left in there, but it will take time. 🙂

  7. I am so sorry Michelle. It is truly one of the hardest things. There is nothing like that unconditional love from a pet. We waited over a year before we got another pup. My husband and I would always be on the fence. He as ready, I wasn’t, and vice versa.
    Hugs.

  8. My family lost a dog who was part of our family for 16 years and, even though we all knew for the last few months of her life she didn’t have much time left her passing was gut-wrenching. I still miss her two years later.

    As far as rude comments though, I understand they come from people have no understanding of what the relationship between a pet and it’s family is like. I guess there are people who believe pets are just property that can be replaced like a worn out shoes but people like that probably shouldn’t own pets.

    Regardless, I try to either ignore rudeness or answer it with grace.

    Prayers to you and your family, you will get through this. It took over a year for my family but we have a new dog and love her just as much as the old one.

    God bless 🙂

  9. I’m still so sorry that your Sammy passed 😦 I’ve been through a few pet deaths in my life, and each one is just as hard. We have all of their ashes and we keep the boxes together on a shelf in a hutch in our dining room.

    Two of the hardest pets to put down were my grandfather’s dog who we adopted after he passed away and my cat who we put down just after I graduated college three years ago. The dog was the last part of my grandfather that my mom had, so it was hard for all of us. We waited a year before we got my now Golden (and then got my Shepard mix three years later). I grew up with my cat and we were really close, so it was hard on me when she passed. I have a big canvas picture of her hanging up in my room. We waited a year, too, before we got a new cat.

    I’m sure that Sammy is watching over you, and everyone grieves differently. It’s okay if it takes you a while. Pets are really part of the family, and those who have them understand that, and those who don’t, just don’t. Surround yourself with good people who understand what you’re going through.

    My thoughts are with you ❤

      1. After we put my cat down, I got a little stuffed cat that looks just like her that I would sit with at night, since she always used to sit with me. That helped me deal with her passing. Maybe you could get a little stuffed dog to honor Sammy?

  10. I’m so sorry, Michelle. Pets are amazingly intuitive and selflessly giving, and it seems like Sammy was there for you through a lot, so of course it would hurt like this- as they say, the more you love, the more it hurts to lose it. People have different mourning habits, and for some finding a new pet helps them get over the pain, while others feel the need to honor the memory longer. But as others have said- it wouldn’t be about replacing Sammy… it would be about adding someone new in your life, and your answer to others can just be about that you’re not ready for that yet.

  11. I’m so sorry for your loss. A pet can be the most loyal companion you ever have. I have certainly been there and dread losing our furry baby. Sending hugs!

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