I am a first responder in Ontario and have been for nearly 20 years.
When I transferred to Eastern Ontario we got Jersey, our first canine family member. My wife and I were both physically active, plus running with a four-legged friend is always good for the morale. For 13 years we ran so many miles with her, pulling the strollers (yes single and double), pulling the kids on their sleigh, she literally did everything with us. Family trips, nature walks, family activities, you name it, she was part of it.
She became obviously sick during the Spring Covid lockdown and was losing weight. After many months of hoping she would get better or pass away peacefully on her own we realized that was unlikely to happen and decided not to prolong her suffering. We opted to make the end as smooth as possible, we owed her that. We had a veterinarian come to our home and Jersey went to sleep surrounded by her most precious people on earth, her mom, her dad and her four kids. The goodbye was as beautiful as possible, but also more difficult than I can describe. I cried so much that my face and my head still hurt. How do we adjust to our new norm without her in our lives?
The lead up to her final day was killing us... her last diner, her last bed routine, her last breakfast, her last walk....every step of the way was hurting, hurting more & more every hour we got closer to her last moment. You wonder, are we making the right decision?
And then, the time came.... her time was up.... it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. It was a beautiful day, we were outside under the sunshine. One after the other, we all had an opportunity to say our goodbyes, hug her warm beautiful brown coat, kiss her beautiful face, smell her one last time. It was so hard to let her go....still hurts so much.
It still feels surreal. Now that she is gone, how do we manage? How does this impact other feelings, stressors we deal with on a regular basis? I don't know yet, do you? We have to learn to cope, resilience is something we always need to build on. Many friends have checked-in and reached out to sympathize with us. I have connected with peers and friends that have gone through such a loss themselves and we have shared our stories about our best furry friends.
Life continues and time will heal the wounds left by her passing. But the void will be there and our lives will never be the same, there is no doubt about it. Some of her ashes will be spread in her favorite spot, in a local forest trail. This brings us some comfort and closure.
The loss of an animal, any kind, is in my humble opinion a life altering event, there is no other way to put it. The point of this message is to share our story with you, in hopes that it resonates with someone. You are not alone, the grief you are experiencing is normal, it will take time. It's OK to be upset, sad, angry but be aware of the length of time these emotions last. If you find you can't accept it, feel heavy, tired, depressed, overly emotional, it is time to acknowledge the signs. Get back into your routine, talk to a friend, seek professional help. Don't let this situation aggravate other dormant triggers. Deal with it.
Take a moment to read the article below, it is a helpful resource.