01.22.13 Love

A Woman’s Best Friend: Grieving the Loss of a Pet

A Woman’s Best Friend: Grieving the Loss of a Pet

BY Amanda de Cadenet

My family is grieving the loss of our family dog, a French bulldog named Lizzie. She died suddenly from complications due to an aggressive cancer we never knew she had. We keep asking, How could we not have known she was so sick? We didn’t know because she didn’t ever show us she was anything but a happy, consistant watch dog and companion to my kids, myself and my husband.

If you know my family, you know Lizzie, she has been at all significant events in our lives for the last ten years. From being in the studio for the making of two Strokes albums, to staying by my side during the bed rest of my twin pregnancy, moving from New York to L.A., she ran through the middle of interviews on The Conversation when we filmed at my house and protected my kids should anyone approach them in the park.

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When people say that pets are a part of the family I know what they mean. I love my dog more than some people who I am supposed to be close to; she only ever loved, greeted, entertained, comforted me when I was sad and kept my loneliness at bay.

Is it usual to hear her barking though shes not here? I think I see her in the corner of my eye, hear her snoring at night in my bedroom. I miss her terribly. I know I must grieve her loss the same as any other and I am certainly going through the expected phases of shock, denial, anger and finally sadness.

How do these creatures who can’t speak with words impact our lives so profoundly and with such deep love?

Doesn’t it make you wonder about all the animals who are killed and eaten by us? These creatures certainly have feelings and spirits, otherwise we would never fall in love with them the way we do.

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I want to do something to honor my dog, but I don’t know what. My other animals, our cat Stanley and Ziggie my chihuahua keep looking for her. The whole house is confused. “Where did she go? Why did God make Lizzie died?” asked my son. I don’t have the answer for him, because I’m asking the same question.

I suppose the answer is, because life is hard and unfair and unexplainable and sometimes it just hurts, it sucks and there is no way through it but one day at a time. This is where I am grateful for my spiritual beliefs; they comfort me and remind me that there is more to the day than my eye can see, there is a whole universe out there that no one can explain. Lizzie is just part of the cycle of life and death and her sudden departure is teaching my kids that death is a part of life. I am thankful to be able to have this conversation with them. It’s an important and often scary talk to have, but so necessary.

Thanks for the parting gift Liz, I’m hoping if there is a doggie place of rest that she’s there with all her favorite foods and toys- playing, sunbathing and getting doggie massages.

I would love to hear your stories about a pet you loved who passed and what you did to to celebrate their life.

Amanda is a wife, mother, friend, photographer and the creator and host of The Conversation. @AmandadeCadenet

Comments

  • Kelly

    Amanda,

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have tears in my eyes at the moment as I also lost my beloved shih tzu Oscar in November. I came home from a trip Monday and he was gone Thursday, without any past indication that he was also carrying a longtime illness. Oscar was my shadow and 24/7 companion – he came to work with me everyday and basically anywhere I went period. He was my best friend and provided me with more love and companionship than I could have ever imagined. It’s been less than three months and I still think of him constantly and struggle to understand why he’s gone. I remind myself how lucky I was to have him in my life at all and that I’ll carry the love I have for him forever. I am sure that Lizzie and Oscar are having a grand ‘ol time together in doggie heaven. Thoughts and hugs to you and your family xoxo

  • Karen

    Sorry to hear about your loss Amanda. I lost my Gypsy almost 2 yrs ago and I still miss her. Right after I lost her she appeared my dreams for awhile and now I believe her spirit is with another family making them just as happy as she made me. Still waiting to get to the Victoria, BC to spread her ashes at the beach where she saw the ocean for the 1st time. My Aunt who lives there will be with me and we will have a beautiful ceremony to celebrate her live.

  • Thanks for all the kind words and shared stories ..I greatly appreciate it x amanda

  • I’m sorry to hear about Lizzie. I know how much it hurts.

    Here’s what I learned from losing Snoopy (beagle) and Shadow (black lab). Snoopy taught our family the joy of living, though he was born with seizures most of the time you wouldn’t know it. He did his own thing, he ruled the house.

    Shadow on the other hand was an example of unconditional love. He was super obedient, loving, strong and fierce, then gentle. Just thinking of those beautiful eyes and caring sweet face makes me cry. How he knew our family so well. He was more than a best friend, a teacher. He too was sick, but we knew it. He knew he was dying and so did we. On the last day he was alive we all hugged him, cried with him, told him how much we love him and will miss him. We didn’t want him to suffer. Those eyes looked back at us with a loving thank you. Until the very end he was himself. He left with pride. He left with honor. He left us with all the love he once brought with him.

    And so he taught me to stand true to who I am. That life is fair. that life is grand. that life is a beautiful masterpiece we create. We must honor it. It was his death, in his name that I finally took that memoir out from sitting and collecting dust. I chose to self publish. I did. I even set up a website and began the pursuit of an online business I’m proud of. If I ever feel like giving up out of fear or any other reason, I think of him. He taught me to enjoy every minute till the very end. Through the pain I can still love, just as he did.

    He was dying, could hardly get up sometimes. And one day when I was crying over a man he got up and walked over to me in a different room. He looked at me with those eyes and I remember crying even harder. I knelt down and hugged him so hard. His love for me was greater than the pain he felt. I’m crying because I know its ok to cry. And through my own pain, I too love.

  • This is about my father’s dog’s grief – a little different than your story, but certainly a reminder that pets’ have their own little souls.

    Watching my father’s dog grieve is one of the most difficult parts of my own grief. This may seem like a ridiculous statement but I know why my father isn’t here, but his dog is lost and confused.

    Archie is now 14 – it has been a lifetime since my dad brought him home as a puppy when I was in 8th grade – a present for me after my first dog passed away. But Archie quickly became my dad’s shadow instead of my own. We called him the son my father never had. My dad took him to work, the lake, on errands – everywhere. The back seat of dad’s truck was covered in Archie’s always-shedding corgi fur.

    At night, Archie was a permanent fixture by my dad’s chair and slept in my parent’s room – a luxury the other dogs didn’t get.

    Archie’s face is grey from old age. We didn’t think he would last long without my dad. Instead, he still searches for my dad and sits by his chair five months later – this being more heartbreaking given the chair is now gone and so he just sits in the spot where he used to.

    I try to spend time with Archie and give him attention – he is lost and melancholy. I want to bring him home with me but I think taking him away from his only home (and my mother) would add more stress. And so I go by my mom’s house to give him treats every day instead.

    What hurts the most is thinking about this from Archie’s perspective – wondering where my dad is and why he left him – still searching for him. When my dad was sick, he wanted to be sure Archie got enough attention. I hope I’m doing enough.

  • Nancy

    Hi Amanda: So saddened for your loss. I have a frenchie too. Coco is 3 years old. I think until you have Frenchie, one cannot really understand how special the breed. There is just something about them. The sweetest creatures on the planet. I feel your loss so deeply, because there is not a day that goes by that I do not imagine what it will be like when Coco is gone. I know she is 3 and I should not worry about that yet. But I do. So much can happen.

    The loss of Lizzie is the loss of Coco…I feel it with you. I can only imagine how wonderful LIzzie was with you…

    Funny story. I just went to a Frenchie meet-up group in Boston (where I live). And i saw two incredible puppies. One Brindle and one fawn. And they were five months old. And they were the cutest things on the planet. Lizzie would want you to have another some day…after timie passes And the twins would love a frenchie pup. Here I am telling you what to do.

    Lizzie..some day Coco will be with you and please play with her and keep her company.

    ugh! it’s so hard.

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