I had a dog. He was big and black. His name was Mummzer; he was a boxer, lab and pit mix. He was a rescue dog and I loved him dearly. He made me laugh and made me cry. It had taken me a long time to get him. It took me two years after Khamudi, my cat, died before I could think about getting another pet.
Before I got Mummzer, long before I got Mummzer, I had a cat, the first cat I had ever owned. He was a beautiful gray Siamese Lilac Point, and I loved him dearly. I love all of my animals dearly. His name was Khamudi which means "My Sweet" in Hebrew. Cats are supposed to live a long time, right? I expected to have Khamudi with me for at least twelve to fifteen years. This, however, was not to be. At age four or so, Khamudi got sick, very sick. I won't tell you about it. Suffice it to say that I did everything I could to save him. I put him through so much discomfort in trying to save him. I feel very badly about what I did with him and to him, and I vowed that I would never allow one of my animals to suffer in this way again.
I know, now, that what I was doing when I subjected Khamudi to all those indignities. I was trying to postpone my feelings of grief and loss over not having my beautiful cat in my life. When Mummzer was six, or so, he got sick. He developed brain cancer. It was so hard for me to let him go, and I kept my promise to myself and Khamudi. I did not allow Mummzer to suffer discomfort and pain. When it was time to say good-bye, I invited his friends over so that we all could say good-bye and tell him how much we loved him. Just writing this makes me feel teary and I do have another wonderful dog now, Dafka. Again, it took me two years before I was ready to get another pet.
We do grieve the loss of our animals and this is normal and natural. We have tended them, and nursed them, and caressed them. They, in turn, have tended us, nursed us, and caressed us. They have made us laugh, and maybe made us cry. No matter what our other feelings are, we love our pets. People who have never had pets may not understand this and say hurtful things. They may say things like, "Get over it;" "S/he was only a dog (or cat or whatever pet you had)". Please know that the feelings that you have are normal and natural and there is no time limit on your grieving. You will take as long as you need to take.
Mourning is a process. The feelings which we go through when we are grieving the loss of a loved one, including our pets are:
We do not go through these feelings in a straight line, from one to the other. We jump around and may certainly feel more than one at the same time. I urge you to take your time and let yourself feel whatever you are feeling.
As a therapist/counselor, I often help people with grieving their losses. I have personally experienced a number of losses and I know that it's so much better to have support during these very difficult times. If you would like to talk about your feelings, about the loss of your pet, or any other losses, please feel free to get in touch with me. You don't have to go through this alone. My clients have found that working with me gives them comfort and support as they strive to come to terms with and acceptance of their loss. I would be honored to accompany you on this very painful journey.