Pet Loss and Aftercare: The Pain of Change

The first few days after Beezer passed were particularly hard and I discovered a great deal of unexplained anxiety. I was continuing to work a job that no longer existed.

My old version of normal was running a 24/7 doggie ICU. Med schedule, twice daily sub-q treatments, home cooked diets. I was in constant motion. Suddenly, I was unemployed. My brain and body needed time to catch-up with the circumstances.

Boomer would watch in considered disbelief as I’d walk laps around the house, carefully moving one object a tad to the right, only to return a few minutes later and move the object a tad to the left. Then I’d start over.

My life had changed and I needed to process and understand this new circumstance. I tried to divide up my grief in order to process it in parts. I missed the Beez and that part of the grief process would have to work itself through at its own pace. I also missed what had become part of my daily routine. You see, I’m a creature of habit. The world had once again changed around me without Doug’s permission. I had entered a New Version of Normal.

I tried to adapt to the new version of normal after recognizing this change. I sat down to read or just chill out. I’d run experiments to see how long I could last before trying to re-enter the life now passed. At first, my efforts were rather silly. About 4-5 minutes of doing nothing were all I could take before rising for a few more sprints. I acknowledged to myself that this Pain of Change was temporary and a new version of normal was right around the corner. That version of normal would allow me to relax and enjoy my life.

Aftercare of our human state is so important when a pet passes. We need to give ourselves permission to heal. It is also normal to have feelings of guilt crop up here. So I’d have a conversation with myself. “Exactly why do you need to feel guilty Doug?,” I’d ask myself. And I’d make the little voice in my head answer the question.

I’d also remind myself that I did a great job of caring for the Beez and his loving memories and lessons would stay with me for all my days. The loving care I gave my trusty Labrador needed to be turned inward now. Beezer deserved my deep affection, but so did I. I also forgave myself for any mistakes along the way. I always did the best I could. Finally, I recognized that Beezer did such a great job of taking care of me. It was now my responsibility to keep up his good work.

With self questioning and fair minded analysis like this, I was able to move through the pain of change and accept the new version of normal. I’m a lot more caring of Doug these days. I have an 85 pound Labrador retriever to thank for setting me on this journey. A job well done by my best buddy.

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