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Don’t Grieve For Me Yet

Our family is grieving. Our beloved Gussie died a few weeks ago. We guessed her to be about 14 years old. She had lived with us for more than 11 of those years. She came to us as a scared and starving stray, who took three days to catch. Her fear was so great that she could not bear to be touched. But once in our home, she blossomed into a confident and loving companion (although sometimes misunderstood by those she tried to bite).

Most affected by the loss of Gussie, is Sting. Gussie was his constant, his North Star. His entire 8 years of life has included her. I think he is feeling a bit adrift now. His grief is palpable. I want to be in his head right now and understand what he is feeling…to know if he understands what happened and why she is no longer in his life. While Sting is grieving, he still has that ability to live in the moment. He can be enticed into animation with the word “squirrel”, or the toss of the Wubba Kong. He still groans at a good ear or belly rub. Again, this is proof to me that dogs are masters of living in the moment. He is experiencing grief and acknowledges his grief, yet he is able to enjoy life during this process. I, on the other hand, can let grief consume me. I work hard each morning to get out of bed. I find myself distracted during conversations, realizing I have missed entire pieces of the interchange. And mostly, I find myself looking at Graham and Sting, already living through their future deaths. How morbid!

Last week, I was having a good cry with Sting, and in melodramatic fashion, told him that I just couldn’t take it if he died and that he had better live forever. And I swear to you, if the dog could have talked, his expression and look to me would have said, “I’m right here….I’m alive. I’m not dead yet.” He got up, picked up his Wubba and we had a good game of fetch.

This household is grieving and we are sad. But, we are all alive and fortunate to have each other. We just need to pick up our Wubba Kongs and get on with life.

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