It has been almost four months since I held Orchid in my arms. Our last interaction will remain with me forever. As I cradled her head in my lap and bent my head down to kiss her for the last time, she was kissing my hand as if to tell me, “I love you. I understand.” After a few kisses, she was gone and with her death went part of my heart. This is the image that I will remember.
How am I surviving the loss of Orchid? Not easily. Not easily at all.
I’ve Been Thinking Lately…
I have given a lot of thought to why pet owners are so devastated over the loss of their pets. Human relationships are complicated. Our relationships with our pets are uncomplicated and sweet. There is no agenda.
Our relationship was simple. We were loyal and we would never betray one another or hurt one another’s feelings. Additionally, we were always kind, needed one another and placed no demands. Orchid appreciated me. I appreciated Orchid. We brought calmness and joy into one another’s lives for 4,198 days in a row. Our relationship was total love and the best type of love at that… simple.
Fortunately, I have my Ultimate Concierge. We help one another through this loss. We cry together, talk about her together, and we miss her together. In other words, we grieve together, but we also mourn, alone.
There is No Prescription For Personal Grief
I don’t have a prescription to hand out on how to grieve the loss of a pet. Grief is personal, and my healing process may be different than yours. I will, however, share how I am surviving in hopes that it may help any of you suffering loss in any form.
My prescription: I allow my feelings to unfold. I hold nothing back. I permit myself to feel the heights of emotion; from utter grief with tears running down my face, to guilt, anger, loneliness and reliving special times, and even, yes, thoughts of bringing a new puppy home. My way works for me.
Over the last four months, I have been grief stricken. All types of emotions flood my mind. At times I am lonely for her peaceful manner, and at times I suffer guilt for not putting her to sleep sooner than later. Other times I just cry, like right now. At times I am angry that she, this lovely animal, had parents who carried a gene that killed my Orchid. I also question and wonder if I can love another pooch like I loved, and still love, Orchid.
Once a Pooch Lover, Always a Pooch Lover
Mixed into my pot of emotions is the theory that once a pooch lover, always a pooch lover. A home is not a home without a pet for the Good family. Some of my friends who lost their pet wait for months to open up their hearts to a new arrival while others decide they cannot go through the heartbreak of another loss. I also have friends who have a new pet within a few weeks.
Looking back over the past four months, I believe I kept myself from feeling total devastation by having hope I could love another pet. And foremost in my mind was the knowledge that my strong husband, Sheldon Good, was aching over the loss of Orchid and needed a pooch, a pal.
On the day that I broached the subject with Shelly, I said, “I was thinking of asking a few friends who have Wheaten Terriers who their breeders were. What do you think?”
Without a pause, he answered, “Go ahead!”
His quick response startled me because he is a ‘thinking man.’
A few days later, over breakfast, he asked, “Any luck yet?”
I did not feel guilty while on my mission that took hours of time that I did not have. I am now sure it was a part of my way of healing. Each time I would pick up the phone or write another email to a breeder I felt I was doing this in honor of Orchid who brought so much joy into our lives.
Our New Adventure
As you know, we will have a new puppy soon. I believe this puppy will have Orchid’s soul, and I know why. For reasons too deep to explain here, I want the pooch to be like Orchid. And while I don’t know who this puppy is because there are nine in the litter, I feel such a rush of love for this little mystery pooch who I will soon hold in my arms. And this is good for the soul. Because there is no emotion stronger than the rush of love and the desire to give of oneself.
Our wonderful breeder sends me videos of the nine little rascals eating, sleeping, running and exploring, and my Ultimate Concierge and I laugh and laugh as we watch and wonder which one is ours.
I listen to my husband’s laughter and watch his expression and happiness, and I know the timing is right. I believe giving our love to another pooch is a compliment to Orchid.
Orchid’s kiss made me melt. We were quiet companions on our walks. Our outings in the park were fun. As she played with the other pooches, she would turn her head and make sure I was near.
After our walks we would climb up twenty-five steps to the top of the Museum of Contemporary Art and watch the world go by down below us, our bodies hugging one another. I am crying. I miss our daily uncomplicated, pure and profound love affair.
My love for Orchid is tucked away in a special section of my heart for eternity. I am glad I have the capability and need to welcome into my heart another pooch. For me, it had been a part of the grieving and healing process. Part of grieving the loss of a pet is moving forward into the now. You are not replacing your loving pet. You are honoring the memory of the one you lost.
I honor you, Orchid Good.
How Have You Survived the Loss of a Pet?
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