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Loss of Our Friends

by Cathy Goetz-Perry

We have had a number of calls in the last few months from people who had lost their precious Beardie friends. They have varied in their circumstances. Two families had lost friends of over 13 years. One family had lost their dog unexpectedly during a minor surgery. Another had a tragic accident. Personally, we have lost three of our geriatric set in less than two years. The point of this column is not to be morose, but to help deal with the loss. 

Whenever, however it happens, we are never ready to lose our friend. Beardies being so much more than "just" dogs become important members of our families. The loss of your Beardie is the loss of someone important to you. 

When your friend is aged, it is possible to anticipate the loss. Most beardies live to rich ages of 13 to as old as 17. But, they are never with us long enough. However the loss occurs, it is important to understand that you will grieve for your friend. Kubler-Ross identified five stages of grieving, from denial to acceptance. Each person moves through the stages at different rates based on their relationship with the one they loved. 

When we experienced the loss of our first Beardie, I went looking for resources to help me through the loss and sorrow. Some that I recommend and can be ordered through Dogs in Canada, Book Department are: 

Old Dogs, Old Friends - Wilcox and Walkowicz (Chris Walkowicz is a Beardie breeder)

Coping With the Loss of A Pet - Lemieux

Coping With Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet - Anderson

The Loss of a Pet - Sife 

I remember sobbing uncontrollably (sometimes inside) after we first lost Chelsea anytime I saw something that reminded me of her. It was over a year before we could publicly acknowledge her loss and I still have difficulty as the anniversary of her death approaches. With time, I began to remember the good things - her sleeping on the end of our bed every night, doing rounds at 2 AM to ensure everyone was tucked in, her nose gently nudging my hand for a pet, her sleeping on my feet as I read ... and the sorrow dissipated somewhat. 

Give yourself time to grieve and allow yourself to experience sorrow. If there are children in your family, help them with the loss at a level they can understand. Find a friend to listen and who will understand the loss of your Beardie. If you need it, have a small memorial to say goodbye. Don't rush into replacing your friend. One never can. Write about your friend, think about your friend, use pictures, videos and memories to relive the happy times. 

In James Herriot's book, Dog Stories, there is a story called "The Card over the Bed." It is about an elderly, dignified invalid with five treasured elderly pets. After one passes on, she asked Mr. Herriot if animals have souls and if her animals will go with her. His response, " If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans. . . And, wherever you are going, they are going too." Over the lady's bed hung a card that read, 'God is near." And, at his side sits His Beardie. 

Copyright © 1997 [Cathy Goetz-Perry]
All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 
   


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Last revised: November 11, 2010