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Loss is Loss, and It's OK to Feel Grief

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My heart is heavy, and I am sad. I am on the verge of tears, what seems like all the time. The loss of a loved one is something everyone has to deal with at some point in their life, and most likely multiple times. It is not easy for anyone to get past the sorrow they experience when someone close to them has passed, or is about to die.

While my loss hasn’t happened yet, I’m preparing myself, and grieving in advance because I know it’s coming. Our loss is happening this week, as one of our family pets was diagnosed with malignant melanoma three weeks ago. I work from home, so I literally have watched our beloved Rottweiler/Labrador-mixed dog, Kona, deteriorate from a 90lb., tennis ball-in-mouth constant companion, to his current state at nearly 60lb., miserable, and cancer-ridden. His transformation began earlier this year, and we were oblivious. Life moves fast with two young boys. It’s hard to not feel guilty for not noticing sooner. We knew at 10 ½ years old he was aging, but never expected something like this.

We have our veterinarian coming to our house on Wednesday morning to perform the euthanasia procedure. I had no idea they would do that until a friend mentioned she had heard of it, so I asked. I hope it will be a more humane experience than carrying our sick pet to the vet's office and placing him on an operating table. I am nervous still, I have never had to do this before.

It was always Mom & Dad’s job to take care of the sick pets. As an adult and a mom, this is the hardest part of being a responsible one, knowing when to say goodbye and let your “child” go. Similarly, it breaks your heart to see one of your family in pain, regardless of if it's human or furry. It can bring the rest of your family closer together, it does not make the actual happening any easier.

My mind tells me, “It’s a dog, why are you so emotional?” But according to a MedicineNet.com article on grief, loss and bereavement, “When considering the loss of a loved one, the effects of losing a pet should not be minimized.” It goes on to say how pets often, and in our case, are considered a true part of the family.

Add a Comment5 Comments

Dear ellens320,

I am truly sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. I'm not sure what to tell you, no doubt the pain is very fresh still for you. I think it will take some time before you can honestly say you're getting through it. It's ok to not be ok right now, and cry if you need to.

But as you mentioned, responsibility is very real. I think it will be important for you to take that 20min. per day alone to just wallow in your feelings or meditate/rest. When that time is done, attack your day with all the positive energy you can for the support of your child and everything else you have to do during the course of the day. Bear in mind, I'm not a doctor, and would like to suggest you visit with one or a therapist for suggestions and support to help "hold you together," until you can fully stand on your own two feet.

I hope you also will continue to visit EmpowHER as a form of support. There are a lot of caring people here who want to see you well again and help you through your grief. You will get through this, and the tears will diminish in time. I believe that those you have loved stay in your heart forever--let them put a smile on your face when you are reminded--no doubt your little boy is a reminder. You can be a help to him by helping him remember his dad and answering his questions with an adult's wisdom. I wish you peace in this hard time.
Warmest regards,

May 3, 2010 - 7:50am

I lost my best friend 3 months ago.He had lung cancer,he was my rock.He kept my world together and I dont know how to go on with out him.Why didnt I tell him that when he was here.Im sure he knew but I never said the words.My son is truly lost without his dad.How am I suppost to keep it together for him and morn for me.Im suppost to be the strong one and hold everyone else together.I need someone to hold me together.When Im alone all I do is cry,I think I dont have any tears left and I find more.Just needed to tell my story.....

April 30, 2010 - 6:26am
(reply to ellens320)


I am so, so sorry that you lost your beloved friend, husband, your son's father. I know the loss is so huge.

When I was 26 and my siblings were 16 and 17, my dad died of cancer. It changed everything in our world, as I know it has changed everything in yours. You go on sometimes just because your heart keeps beating and your lungs keep breathing. You take baby steps when you can't take full steps. You do it a day at a time, and when you can't do it a day at a time, you deal with an hour at a time.

Please don't kick yourself for anything about his death -- of course he knew how important he was to you. Absolutely. And he knew it would be a struggle now. But I am suspecting he also knew that someway, you would be OK. And I know he felt better about leaving since he knew his son had you to help him through it.

Crying is important. Don't worry that you cry when you're alone. It may go on like that for quite some time. Grieving is personal, and we all do it differently and for different periods of time.

Have you considered finding a therapist or a grief counselor? It may help you to have someone to talk to, now and in the future. Everything changes when a loved one dies, and we experience every emotion along the way. I am sure your son is doing the same.

How old is he? In your opinion, how is he doing?

May 4, 2010 - 9:11am

I am so sorry for your loss. It was sad to read your article and no doubt, heartbreaking for you to write. Thank you for sharing it with others to help them through their grief.

November 10, 2009 - 1:28pm


I'm so sorry to hear that you're going through this. Those of us who love animals this way, and who want them near us throughout our lives, are destined to deal with this a few times, if not several. It never gets easier.

Your veterinarian will talk and walk you through it. It's so kind that you have a vet who will come to your home to do this. You are right, as hard as it is to let go of a beloved family member, it makes the wound even deeper when you have to drive them to the vet and put them through the stress of that last trip and those moments in the office. The fact that your pal can be at home in familiar surroundings with no stress is wonderful.

I think the deep grief over an animal is similar in intensity at first to the deep grief over a human loss. The difference is that the human loss goes on much longer and is much more profound. But at the beginning, they are both simply horrible. Yes, tears all the time. Yes, vulnerable feelings. And yes, a family's heart broken because they miss a loved one.

You're doing the right thing, Christine. I know you know that, but I wanted to say it anyway. Sometimes it helps to hear it.

Some people say "I could never do that to my dog." What I have found is that yes, there are a million minutes when you cannot imagine it, but then there is one minute where you see that they are so ill you cannot imagine NOT.

I am thinking of you and your family and your beloved Kona today. I am glad that there is another dog at home -- for me, burying my hands and tears in the fur of another dog I already love is always one of the most comforting things I can do. Don't be surprised if your other dog seems to be grieving in a way as well. They pick up on more than we understand.

November 10, 2009 - 9:16am
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