We all understand that the only way to get absolutely unconditional love is from our pets. People are lots more complicated than their animals.
The close attachments we form with pets are so good for us, and for our aging parents, too. The loneliness many feel is lessened by the four legged companions we have. We get used to their presence and look forward to it. Older folks can get isolated when they lose their ability to drive, they lose spouses and friends, and when their vision, hearing and stamina diminish. Pets can be a godsend for them, just as they are for all of us animal lovers.
I’m a dog person myself. Today was a tough day for me, my husband and our 27 year old daughter. Her sweet little pooch died, still a young dog. The dog had a health problem and passed suddenly. Now I must comfort my daughter while feeling so very sad myself. Her dog loved us all unconditionally. I got a new moniker from the vet awhile ago, bringing the dog in for a checkup: “dog grandma”. This dog grandma is writing with tears in my eyes.
Attachment is what makes us human, makes us capable of love ourselves and what keeps many of us happy. But it comes with a price. We have to one day let go.
When our kids were growing up, we had an adorable little cocker spaniel, probably the most patient and kid-friendly dog one could want. When it was her time to go, I remember I was shocked at myself. It took me weeks to stop feeling out of sorts and weeping at the loss. I was not ready to experience the grief over a pet and didn’t understand it. Looking back, I see how normal it was.
We get attached, and we feel the pain, very much as if we had lost a person. My daughter’s little dog was part of our family, of course. It’s a universal thing, that we grieve over losses of our loved ones, be they human or of another species. I’m not sure it’s different either way.
This experience is a reminder to me that we all need to be sensitive to our aging loved ones, and how often they experience loss. Many of our moms lose a husband and must live life as a widow. For others, it’s the dad who is left alone, often without the skills of keeping house and managing living independently. Feeling the pain of losing a sweet little dog just makes me remember that anyone, particularly someone who has lost someone they love, needs our understanding.
What can we do?
We can show up. We don’t have to say much when someone dies, or after a pet passes. We can just show up, just be there. Hats off to my daughter’s boyfriend. He left his work in the city and rushed to her side on hearing the bad news. He’s the quiet type. He arrives, gives her a hug and keeps his mouth shut. He takes her back to her apartment and hangs out for a time with her. She is comforted by his mere presence, and that is something we can all do. Give our presence others are when they experience loss. Some of us might feel awkward, not knowing what to say.
The nurse in me knows well that you really don’t have to say much. Just be there. Stay awhile. Try to imagine being in their shoes and remember to visit after the shock wears off and life keeps going for them. We all need each other. Encourage your loved one who is experiencing grief and loss to be with you, and with others. Isolating when we feel pain and loss is our inclination, but it’s not the best thing. Being with other people really helps.
As for my daughter, I know the time will come when we’ll be on the search for a new little pet for her. I am sure that I will get attached to whatever creature she brings home from the dog rescue or shelter. I know that the cycle of life has a beginning and an end. I know that we will get through this sadness, just as each of us must when we go through loss. Getting attached has its price, but it’s worth it.
For anyone who is feeling a sense of loss right now, remember that you’re not alone. If you have someone in your life who is going through grief, be there for them. We all have to take our turn and do what we can to help each other along.
Until next time,
2011-06-07 10:41 编辑：kuaileyingyu