Guilt and grief

In a pathetic way, I am struggling with feeling good about my new dogs. This is going to sound a bit strange but I feel guilty for not grieving. My big dog passed on October 27th. I have been anticipating this for a while as he was at least 14, but closer to 16. In big dog world, he was very old. But the Friday before he died, he was healthy and running as much as an old dog runs. Ok, it was a lope at best. But off he would go with all the enthusiasm of a pup.
This summer, when the two of us would sit out on the deck in the garden, I would think how much of a void there will be when he is gone. I would grieve and cry. He would look at me with this puzzled look like “what is wrong, I am still here.” I took him for a wellness check and the Vet who I have been seeing for over thirty years said he was in great shape. But there were so many moments this fall when I would look at him and feel him gone. I thought it was just me being worried. I felt in my gut that his passing would devastate me. And I would cry. I felt his loss, even with him right in front of me. I thought it was just me perseverating on a thought. It was actually preparation.
When he did pass, my heart broke into a thousand pieces. I felt him leave this plane and pass through me. You can believe that or not, it happened. I have taken many animals to the bridge, and his passing was no easier. But the heartbreak did not last as long as I thought it would. There is a hole, no doubt about it, which no animal will ever fill again. But there is a calm, a peaceful grace that I have never felt before with the passing of one of my babies. It was as it should be. He is still with me. This is what I sense.
The connection I had with Bishop is unlike anything in my life before. I doubt if I will ever be so blessed to have it again and truthfully I am not looking for it. My guilt is in the fact I knew within 24 hours that I would have to fill my house and heart with another dog. The first dog I saw when I was going through the thousands of dogs on the intranet and saved in my queue is actually who we have now. It was fortuitous as his mother was also up and they were a bonded pair. Just what I wanted. I felt a connection from looking into his soulful eyes. He is a baby, not even 2 yet. But in those eyes, now looking at me as I type, I see the love that was missing with Bishop’s passing. His mother is more attached to my husband and that is just fine.
To explain the guilt is difficult. It is the child in me who wants to know why beings have to die in the first place. My first experience with death was my mother who passed when I was 23. I know there is a time for everything. The fourteen years I had with Bishop went by very fast. But it is a time in my life now gone, that in truth, I would not want to go through again. Bishop was my rock as I transitioned from one very bad situation after another, to the present, which in measure is wonderful. He was there when I needed him. I hope I was the same for him.
We cannot stop the progression towards death. At this age, it is a reality that it is coming quicker than I want. So I am going to accept my guilt, but not let it stop me from accepting the joy I have with the new fur faces in my house. They are a blessing. Besides, how can you not love this face?
Little Bear 11-10-13

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4 thoughts on “Guilt and grief

  1. Please don’t feel guilty. People react to loss in many different ways. As you have strong faith, you know death isn’t the end, so perhaps the grief isn’t so intense because you know that. I know your new dog isn’t a replacement, but it helps so much to have a focus; I think it’s a reminder that life continues in its endless cycle. Many blessings.

  2. The amount of guilt or grief does not change the love you felt for your dog. He knew how much you loved him and the fact that you are calm.. and have accepted this. And can be happy again, undeniably makes him more happy than any amount of grief after his passing ever could.

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