For most of the day yesterday, I was absolutely distraught over the loss of Princess and Jenna, so much so that I had to leave work early because I couldn’t stop crying, especially after leaning that Princess passed away too. They had been a very significant part of our lives for the last nearly 16 years. They were in fact a part of our family. Some may think it’s silly to regard animals as family members, but those people have obviously never cared for and loved a pet as much as we loved and cared for Princess and Jenna.
I promised myself that I would be strong today and to not to think about them so much and try to concentrate on work, but I find it to be more therapeutic to reflect and write about them, as a part of my healing process. It’s difficult -very difficult, and although I have never lost a human child, I cannot imagine it being much worse (at least for me).
Princess passed away yesterday morning while I was at work. I got an email from my wife shortly afternoon that Jenna had taken Princess with her. I immediately went into the restroom, lock myself into one of the stalls, and wept heavily. The person in the next stall must have thought I was crazy. As much I tried to focus on work, I couldn’t; it was just too difficult, so I left early with the permission of my boss, saying that I wasn’t feeling well -which was the truth.
When I got home, I was already weeping even before I saw Princess. Why I got my first glance at her, I saw something that I saw everyday. Princess was sleeping peacefully in her bed. My mind kept telling me, she’s just asleep! I will pet her on the head and she’ll spring to life like she always does. This is called the first stage of grief: Denial. But when I did petted her, she didn’t spring to life. All I felt was coldness and lifelessness. I kept petting her and petting her, thinking that she will wake up at any moment; and for a split second, I thought I even saw her breathe. But of course, this was just my imagination.
Since we were pretty much prepared for this moment, I thought Princess’s passing would be much less of a blow, but it was too soon. It was too soon after Jenna left us. She didn’t even give us a chance to recover, and she left us. So for a short time, Iwas mad at her for leaving me. This is the second stage of grief: Anger.
That morning before I rushed off to work, I took one good look at the memorial we set up in Jenna’s honor. Everything will be alright, Princess is still here, I thought to myself. She’ll help me through our loss by helping us remember all of the great times we had together. I petted her on the head and she looked up at me. For a very brief moment, a thought went through my head that this could be the very last time I see her alive, but I immediately dismissed it. She’ll be okay. If only I had known, I would have stayed longer and gave her a proper goodbye, or maybe I might have even taken the day off. The guilt I feel right now for leaving her without a proper goodbye hurts my soul to it’s core.
Although she never expressed it, I think Princess was also feeling grief in her own way over the loss of her sister, and after a very long fight with illness, felt that it was a good time to leave too. Being Princess, I am almost certain that she didn’t want us to have to grieve again later. All that went through my head as I laid their on the floor next to Princess’s lifelessness, is if she could only come back for only one minute so I could thank her and say goodbye properly. In my head, I pleaded with her over and over again, but of course it wasn’t going to happen. Bargaining: the third stage of grief.
Having never experienced a death of a pet, I never knew how overwhelming it could be. The grief engulfs you and takes over everything if you let it. I am trying not to let it overwhelm me by continuing my daily activities, but it’s hard -very hard. Even at Haru’s tumbling practice last night, all I could think was -why am I here? Haru doesn’t need me to be here. I want to go home and just go to bed. I don’t want to have to think about this anymore. I just want to go to sleep and dream about better times. The more I thought about it, the more sadder and distraught I got. Then I realized that I cannot let this happen. Depression is dangerous and it cannot take over my life. It’s okay to mourn, but its not okay to let it overtake you. So as I normally do on all Monday nights, I coached Haru through the glass and made sure that she was sticking all of her tumbling skills. It made me much MUCH happier to see Haru smile back at me. The fourth stage of grief: Depression.
The fifth and final stage of grief is: Acceptance. This is when you have come to terms with everything and understand that there is no reversing the affect. You just accept that what happened has happened, and you move on. Well, I am definitely NOT there yet. I am in a constant state of limbo between denial and depression. My mind still can’t accept that they’re gone, and there are actually still parts of me that believe that Princess and Jenna are alive and well, and waiting for me to come home. And when the logical side of my brain swats that thought down and brings me back to reality, I begin to feel sad and depressed once again. And this has been a constant cycle for the last 48 hours.
Last night during dinner, Haru was talking about wanting another pet -this time something she could call her own. I nearly broke down and cried, but realized that she wasn’t saying this because she didn’t care about Princess or Jenna, but out of sense of loss. She said that the house was too quiet and she felt lonely. But as much as I would love to have another dog, it’s way too soon, and I just want to be able spend some time with my family without the responsibility of caring for another pet right now. I just want to be able to travel again, take over night trips, and enjoy life as a family of three once again, and now is a good time to do it. It will also help us to finally find acceptance and recall all of the joyous memories that Princess and Jenna brought us.