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It’s been two days and the grief has yet to subside. It comes in waves, one minute i’m perfectly fine minding my own business and doing my assignments, the next minute i’m tearing up. They say time heals all wounds and I know it’ll take time for the raw emotions to pass, but at this point it just hurts to think about the fact that he’s just not with us anymore.

I guess for some people I might seem irrational or sensitive, but if you’ve ever had a dog they really do become apart of your family. Think about older individuals who have nothing but their pets with them, how devastating it is for them to lose their companion or for some people their ‘child’. There are plenty of people who for whatever reason choose not to or can’t have kids. They become parents to these ‘fur babies’, a ‘child’ you can dote on, who will love you unconditionally, and comfort you when you feel low. They are not just ‘dogs’ or any pet for that matter. These animals grow with you and your family and when you lose them, the studies have shown that the pain is just as bad as if you were to lose a child or a parent. The grief is real.

On some level being half way across the world makes it a but easier, since I was used to being away from him, but on another level its been harder.

I guess I have slowly been going through the five stages of grief.  You know the concept we all learn in first year psychology.

The first stage. That on some level i’m in denial that he’s gone. I never saw him go to sleep or to leave my heart in the room where he found his peaceful oasis. I have this small flicker of hope that i’ll go home and he’ll still be there to greet me at the door and follow me to my room as I set my things down. That somehow this is all some sort of sick joke and that any minute now someone is going to say that i’ve been played.

I won’t lie I went through a period when I was really angry. Angry that cancer had slowly drained his body and consumed it. Angry that if there is supposedly some higher being that he would allow individuals to suffer in painful ways. Angry that this so called “creator” and “father” could ever condone pain or killing. It hurts. I know that if he wasn’t consumed by cancer he would have likely lived 4-5 more years. It’s been hard for me to accept that it’s just the course of nature playing out.

Ah bargaining. This was the hardest stage for me. Before we had to put him down, as I would fall asleep I would plead with the universe to let him stay. That I would give up any of my prized possessions to keep him from having to go and not leave me behind. But I know I have responsibilities and a life to fulfill before my turn to go will happen.

Depression. A concept I am all to familiar with. I feel like I get stuck in this stage sometimes. I do feel empty knowing he’s gone and I feel terribly upset at times. I think this stage will hit me the hardest as I prepare to go home for a bit.To be honest I am starting to dread going home. Not because I don’t want to see my family, friends, or just feel at home. I dread going home because then it means that I have to accept the fact he’s gone and that’s what cycles me through this stage. It makes it even worse when people tell me to ‘get over it’ or ‘its just a dog’ or ‘you need to move on’, don’t you think if I could I would? I’m grieving and the lack of understanding makes it harder for me to process.

I haven’t reached the acceptance stage and I don’t know when I will. Some people have said it could be a few weeks but others who have lost pets have said it could take years. I can’t pin point a time and I don’t think there should be a time limit. I’m human. We all process things in different ways and at different paces. Don’t treat someone as being weak because it’s taking them a long time to grieve. It’s like any long-term relationship, these pets are with you for a good chunk of time, it’s not something you get over in two hours. If you can, then kudos to you but I would argue that it could be a defence mechanism in trying to be devoid of emotion and that it’ll hit you again at some point. That’s just human nature, we are meant to process things, it’s how we move on.

There’s another part of me that just wants to know that he made it to his paradise. I wish the universe would send a sign so that I know he’s happy and pain free. That he crossed the rainbow bridge to his paradise.

As a side note, one thing I don’t understand is the compassion humans have for end-of-life practices for animals. Why is it morally acceptable to euthanize our pets when a competent, rational, and terminally and grievously ill adult patient can’t make the choice for themselves? Is it because animals don’t have the ability to voice their opinions so we just assume that they would want use to end their suffering? But then how can a adult who has the capacity to understand consequences and participate in informed consent not be able to make a choice in regards to their own body? It just doesn’t make sense. I can agree to undergo brain surgery knowing the risks that I may not wake up or suffer severe complications, or if I am living on artificial nutrition I can choose to stop receiving it knowing full well that I would die. Yet I can’t access euthanasia or physician assisted death when my suffering becomes too much. I guess in Canada it isn’t as much of a problem anymore (at least until legislation outlining safeguards comes into effect), but in countries such as the UK I find it strange. I guess the largest argument is “protecting the vulnerable from being abused”, but there are plenty of countries who have implemented such practices and have shown that this argument isn’t valid. The evidence supports that you can implement effective safeguards. Physicians are already used to the concept of informed consent, which is used to ensure patients have the capacity to understand and retain the information given to them in relation to their treatment or procedure.

I guess that’s all I really have to say for now.

May you find your rainbow.

M