I am often asked "how do you get through it?" when clients lose a companion. They also ask "when should I get another?" Both of these questions are very personal as are my responses. Dealing is a very individual and personal thing. How one person copes may be completely different from another. I thought that this was a good topic today because I found myself in tears yesterday. I was working on my second book and had to go through the day we lost Tilley again. There were moments of tears slowly coming down my face and then a time that I really needed to cry. I pushed myself away from the computer and allowed for the moment. The crying was over quickly and I took the time to think about her. Then it was back to writing and I felt much better.
I was forced into the moment but it is very important to take the moments when they arise and deal. Allow yourself to cry, remember and cherish the good old days. Life is hectic and days can slip by with general day to day activities. But when the moment arises you must seize it. I will often stop and make myself take the time to think about Tilley, Jessie, Mandy, Clyde and the others in my life who have left. It can happen at any time during your day to day; an event will trigger a memory, that memory prompts a moment.
When you continue to share your life with dogs after the loss of a much loved companion, there will be more moments. Each dog will bring about a memory from the past. This is not a bad thing but another step in the healing process. Elsa displays quite a few behaviors that are similar to Tilley. She is a very different dog than Tilley but every once in a while I am stopped in my tracks by something she does. Just the other night Elsa wanted on the bed, she came and gently touched her nose to my leg which was sticking out of the covers. From dead asleep I was stopped in time, just for a moment but it was quite a moment. Tilley use to communicate a great deal with the slightest nose touch.
The loss of a dog can be immeasurable; a life companion taken from us. We spend so much time with our dogs, sharing each day together. When that companion is taken from our life it leaves a huge void. The grief is often overwhelming sadness. A huge storm cloud can blanket your every thought completely encasing your life. Allowing the sadness, the emotions to come in and interacting with each one helps you to deal with the loss itself. Life goes on and we too must go on. With the passing of each dog in our life comes the life lessons from our life shared. Each dog prepares us to be a better companion for the next.
Having other dogs around when you lose one most definitely helps to get you through. You have mouths to feed and care for so you must get through it. That said, when you have other dogs you often don't take the time that you need, time is essential. You must stop and remember, cry and cry some more. If you simply push the emotions back to deal with at another time you really leave yourself open for more pain. There are so many emotions that arise when you lose a dog, sadness, guilt, anger etc. Each one must be dealt with as it arises.
I have been forced to take moments as I continue to write about my crazy journey to CT and back again. Losing two dogs only three weeks apart was unbearable. But it has been very helpful because at the time I didn't take those moments, I didn't have time to take them. So as they are offered to me through the pages that I write I am taking them and feeling much better about the whole process, the circle of life. Dealing with grief does not take away the loss, but it helps you to move on and makes the sadness livable.
When to add another dog to your life? When you can no longer bare the absence of a canine in your life. When your heart is ready to be filled again with the day to day antics of a canine. Only you will know when it is time. There is no right or wrong, only your heart and your life to say when. There is a brightness and excitement that comes with getting to know the next amazing dog in your life. You will know when the time is right.
Now, go hug your dog.