I did not expect to be writing a post on lossing a pet and it makes my heart hurt still just thinking about it. I started working on this post in January and it has taken this long to finish it. I am in no way an expert in how to handle grief but unfortunately, we have gone through the loss of not one, but both our beloved dogs this winter.
Our boy Ben was 9 and Molly was 11. We had been preparing ourselves that Molly was getting old and we might not have much time left with her. She was a large German Shepherd and her hips were failing and she could no longer get around.
Before we had to to make the tough discussion about Molly, we were blindsided by Ben. One night in December, around 8:00 Ben got noticeably sick and passed away around 10:00 PM. It was a massive shock, he had appeared very healthy and we were beyond devastated.
Meanwhile, Molly’s condition continued to deteriorate to the point that we felt it was time to say goodbye. At the beginning of January, we made the painful discussion that due to her suffering it was time to put her down. On a rainy Sunday evening, the whole family (Grandmas included) huddled around our Molly girl, giving her hugs, pets and as many treats as she wanted. We all said our goodbyes and comforted her and each other as the home vet “put her to sleep”.
Through both of these losses, here is what I discovered.
Tell the truth
It might be easier gloss over the reality of the situation with your kiddos or make up a story like “Spot went to live on a farm”, however it is important for them to understand the truth even when it is hard. Trust is very fragile and is easy to lose and hard to earn back.
It might feel like a silly thing when there is so little in your control, but when possible try to give choice to your kiddo. When it was time to say goodbye to Molly, we explained to JJ what was going to happen and ask him if he wanted to be there when the vet came. We ask again when the home vet arrived if he wanted to be with us or if he wanted to go in the other room. At first, he said he wanted to stay in his room (which was fine) but in the end, he chose to come out and be with all of us.
Don’t try to be strong
When you are going through the grieving process, don’t feel like you have to keep it together. When you are on the brink of tears, don’t fight it. When you are sad, don’t tell your family you are ok. Take comfort in your family and loved ones.
Share the memories
Taking time to reminisce about your 4 legged family member is the best way I know to honor them. We shared many stories about our 4 legged babies and even if it makes me miss them more, it keeps the memories alive and makes me smile.
Add a new four legged friend to your family
This tip is not for everyone. Everyone handles lose differently and they may or may not be ready to love again. For our family it was vital to get a new friend. We found a local family who had puppies and went and pick out our boy “Kai” from a the litter. We were getting ready to go on vacation to Disney World, so Kai got to hang out with his mommy and sibblings for 2 week longer. We were so excited to get back from our trip and go pick him up.
As I sit typing this post, he is hanging out with me, trying to “help”. Kai is a super sweet boy that is perfect for our family. He is smart and has a strong desire to please which has made him relitvely easy to train. We can never replace Molly and Ben, but adding Kai to our family does bring healing to our hearts.