Sunday, April 22, 2012

Overwhelming grief

On January 30th of this year our beloved Shadow passed away. I wrote about her life and had wonderful conversations with our readers about the loss I felt and the amazing gratitude I felt for having had the privilege of being part of her life.

Shadow lived a full 14 years before she met us. When we met her she had suffered neglect, but she was spry and loving. Our original deal was to foster her so I picked her up one day from a temporary situation and drove her to the vet for a checkup.

I will never forget her being in the passenger seat of my truck and once I stopped in the parking lot at the vets she walked onto my lap and gave me a big kiss. I said to her then not to do that as I was only fostering her.

She knew better than that.

Shadow was 18 when she passed away. The sadness was hardcore. I took a half-day off of work, shared with friends and family about my sadness and sense of loss, and moved on.

So I thought.

What I truly love about this blog and the relationship I have built with those who read this blog and support it is that I have always been honest about what I write about and how I truly feel about the topic or the situation.

The grief I have is still incredibly strong. Sure, I smile, I go to work and rock it, I volunteer, I love on our companion animals, I make sure my husband knows how much I love and adore him. Yet in the quiet of the drive home, the still morning in my office before others arrive, reading in bed at night or swinging on the backyard hammock, the grief I feel for the loss of my Shadow is strong and feels like it will never pass.

Some days I still think Shadow is physically here. I hear something in the bedroom and think it is her getting up to come join us. Or I turn the light on in the bedroom and immediately turn it off remembering that she is in there sleeping when in fact she's not. And so on.

I know the hardcore grief will pass. And I am way grateful to all of you for your love, support and stories of those you have lost.  I am also grateful to feel the love for another living being, and feel the pain that goes with not having them in my life anymore. The love I feel for this little 14 pound lovely is truly a gift.

Thank you for reading!


  1. Oh, if only Shadow could give you one more big kiss! Yes, I know the intense loss and the regular, unexpected reminders of that loss that continue to give a jolt of both pain and warmth.

    I lost Lincoln on March 14, 2011 and continue to miss him daily. (I wrote about him and included a photo in this blog post,, but I could not solely write about him. It was just too difficult. Having come from an abusive environment, he was an exceptionally complex pooch that bonded with me and no one else.

    I now make a point of thinking of him at certain points of the day. (Early on, it was too painful to do that. Instead, I cherished that distractions that came from work and workouts.) By carving out Lincoln Time, I am able to focus more on the positive memories instead of the painful final days. I honor him instead of mourning him. He remains part of my core.

    Do take care of yourself. You and Shadow were fortunate to have your lives converge!

  2. Losing one's companion animal is a grief that comes in waves, isn't it? I know there's not a thing I can say to make anything better. But I'm thinking about you.

  3. You might want to listen to Ari Solomon's review of One Good Dog on yesterday's Our Hen House podcast. (At 1:04:00 in the episode, if you listen to it through itunes.)

  4. Oh, I so related to this. It's been 7+ years since I lost my labrador retriever, Abby, and, truthfully? I can barely talk about her without choking up. Still. Sending you big hugs. xo

  5. It is a heartbreak that is very unique. If we're lucky, they live full, long lives (18 years for Shadow-- amazing!) And still, because they're small and "dependent" on us, we tend to still see them as our babies-- our non-human children. They are. But we often lose sight of the fact that a mid to late teenage dog is the human equivalent of an ocatgenarian or older. So it feels like we lost a child... because we did. Albeit a fully frown, older child.

    I lost my first dog of 17 years on January 11, 2005 and my second dog on June 11, 2008. I miss them both terribly, still. Like you, I have my good days and good time. I'm still present for my husband, my other companion animals, my friends and family. And, still, all of these years later, it sneaks up on me in the quiet, unsuspecting, alone-moments. I now see it for what it is; A testament to an intense bond of love that transcends time/space and lives in me and my dogs forever.

    Hopefully, in time, you will see it as a reminder of the love you shared and continue to share, and the pain and sadness of loss will turn into the comfort of feeling that love.


  6. How wonderful that you and your husband gave Saddow such love during a time when most people would not have wanted to adopt or foster her because of her age.

    I lost my first dog on June 11, 2009. He was my constant companion for 14 years. The grief I felt was unlike anything I have ever experienced. It took a long time before I could think about him and not cry. Now I can think about him and laugh and cry (this time not for the loss, just for missing him). I still feel his presence from time to time, and occasionally catch a glance of him out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes it feels like he is in another room, or just out of my sight, but he is there.

    To all of my friends who have lost a companion animal, I send this poem. It gave me great comfort and still does. Hopefully it will give you and your husband some as well