When I lost my 12-year-old Pomapoo, Chuck, a couple months ago, I didn’t know how to explain the grief.
So, I decided to write down thoughts as they came. I hope they can help others feel comforted knowing that in their grief, they are not alone.
I felt a jolt of energy run down my leg as Chuck took his last breath.
Is he really gone?
Just take one more breath, please. Wait. No.
I know I said I was ready, but I’m not ready.
I want more time.
They took him out of my arms, which somehow made me remember the moment I picked him up for the first time. He was so small—the last one left in his litter, all alone. I couldn’t resist those little eyes, and my own inner desire to not feel so alone either. I couldn’t bear to hear him cry, so he rode in my lap as I drove us home.
That was the moment he became my ride or die.
Did that just happen?
What just happened in the past 30 minutes?
How could an existence so meaningful just be over in a last breath?
Why did the end come so fast?
Everything feels fuzzy, like the world is existing without me in it.
What just happened? Wait, where is he?
I have to hold it.
I have to see him.
I scream and cry, and it subsides for a while and then it’s overwhelming again.
It’s like crashing waves and I get barely just a minute to come up for air.
How do I breathe without this little soul who has walked beside me for 12 years? Every minute extending nothing but love and joy.
Like you don’t realize how much they are there until they’re not and then it’s like being thrown into an MMA ring…punch, punch, kick, slap…down and bleeding and then kicked some more.
Each memory, every thought of never seeing him again feels like a blow I already don’t think I can stomach.
I went to the house briefly today and I laid my head in his crate. It still smells like him. I couldn’t stay more than 10 minutes.
I can’t eat. I don’t care. I just want him back.
I went back to where I’ve been housesitting. I just can’t be in my house right now. The silence is deafening. Everywhere I look, I see where he should be and he’s not. This little dog was my child—my only child.
I mean, you always know that they are going to die, but I think we do something in our brain to turn that off and almost believe it’s never going to happen.
I feel like I walk around just looking for him.
I know Chuck wouldn’t want me to feel this sadness, but he was literally my emotional support animal; it’s kind of ironic that the most emotional distress I’ve ever felt in my life is losing him and he isn’t here.
I feel like a part of me has died with him. I have never heard this kind of crying from me…it’s just desperate pain…my heart feels like it’s being ripped from my body.
I sit here and think: “Oh my God, Noel, it’s just a dog,” but I feel even more grief and pain than losing a human. He was with me every moment, every day, especially the past couple months that I’ve been working from home. He saw me through all those darkest times in my life; I just can’t imagine how my life will be without him.
If you knew him, you know how special he was.
The grief—it’s everywhere I look. I know where he would be or what he would be doing or how he would be looking at me or what he would want. Or what it feels like to pet him or have him lay beside me. I know his bark, his breathing, the sound of his name tag clanging against his harness and his walk through the house.
I cry myself to sleep. I have to play a video of him snoring on repeat just so I can sleep…so I can pretend he is still right next to me.
We buried him today. I got to pet him a while longer and just have a few last moments to say goodbye.
I just keep screaming…my baby…my baby boy, please God, please.
I scream so loud it feels like my brain rattles.
I just want him back. I’ll do anything!
I hate it when someone says: “Well, they were older right?” Well, you’re older right? Like I’m supposed to miss him less because he lived 12 years instead of five?
Yes, I know he had a good, long life. But he still isn’t f*cking here with me. So I don’t care how old he was; it doesn’t make it any easier…if anything, it makes it harder because I had more time with him to connect and love even deeper.
Do you get it? He was like my child. He was my life and my focus and where I poured most, if not all, of my love. He made me realize that I could be that vulnerable, and could love that much.
It just f*cking sucks. I almost want to speed up time so I can feel better.
Yes, there are moments I feel like it hurts so bad it will surely kill me. I cry so intensely and the breath leaves my body in such a guttural, deep way, I’m not sure I’ll be able to take in air again. But I pull through. I know he would want me to.
I wonder why we post on Facebook when we’re grieving?
Because it f*cking hurts and we just don’t want to feel so alone. Because we want to know that we aren’t crazy for feeling as distraught as we do. Because we want someone to remember one thing that connects us to them…something they saw or knew.
Why does grief become “complicated”?
When we don’t feel it or try to ignore it.
So I feel it.
Minute after minute, I feel it.
Hour after hour, I feel it.
Day after day, I feel it.
I let myself stop to rest.
I let myself cry.
I let myself off the hook for not having a smile or a positive attitude right now.
I let myself do nothing for days, because he deserves that time from me to reflect, to honor his meaning in my life.
I think about my last words to him that day…that day I looked in his eyes and as his mama, I knew he was telling me he couldn’t hold on anymore.
As he was taking his last breath, I held him.
I let my eyes be the last thing he saw, this little bundle of love that followed me in both my best and worst moments, who saw me laugh and cry, stressed and peaceful, witnessed every regrettable decision, and the most exciting announcements, listened to all my ramblings and questions, because I was really hoping he would have the answer—he was there through the thick and thin of it all.
He deserved every minute of being in my arms in his last moments, smelling the familiar scent of “home” in my clothes, and to see my face as he took his last breath, so I could look at this little animal soul who never left my side and say: “Thank you for saving my life.”