There’s been a dark cloud hovering over our home since we let go of our pup, Abby, last Thursday. Our remaining dog, Leroy, has seems to mope about. A poem of condolence from our vet is taped to our fridge. And it’s just… quiet. Abby definitely made her presence known in our home. Her absence is marked by a painful quietness. I miss her.
In school, I learned about the stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Unfortunately, the stages aren’t always linear. You can bounce from one to the other, back to the same and so on until you finally reach “acceptance.” Which, by the way, “acceptance” doesn’t mean that you’re over it. It just means that you are willing to finally continue to live life in a new way. It’s basically saying, “I accept that I have to surrender to my new normal.” Up until then, we fight. We fight this forced “new normal.” Sometimes we never stop fighting.
I believe that I’m currently in the stage of denial. Although I have been bouncing over to depression every now and then. I just really hate the permanence of death. I believe in Heaven (most of the time), but I hate that when a loved one dies, there’s no way for me to be with them until I die. I want to pet Abby’s soft fur. I want to see her tail wag when I come home. I want to see her stare at a wall for no apparent reason (she did that often). I miss her silliness. She had such a fun-loving spirit. I just can’t believe she’s gone. That would be the denial.
Remember how I said that I believe in Heaven most of the time? Well, there’s a part of me that is scared that Heaven isn’t real. Intellectually and experientially I know that it’s real… but there’s a part of me, a wounded part, that is so afraid of being disappointed that it stubbornly refuses to believe that something as good as Heaven could be real. This is when the depression takes center stage. I become hopeless. I hate death. I hate that it is unpredictable and uncontrollable. I then become anxious. My mind becomes flooded with, “What if’s??” Fear invades every thought. I don’t like this part of me. Thankfully, it doesn’t show up often. It tends to make an appearance when triggered by certain events like… the death of a pet or national tragedies. I know it will pass but for now, it sucks.
Not that long ago, we had to grieve another pup, Libby. She also had cancer. She also should have lived much longer than she did. It was a tough loss. But you know what? I healed from it. Her death actually gave me hope that Heaven is real and that God accepts animals into Heaven. These beliefs are based on a handful of experiences I had during prayer with God and they are unshakable. They helped to solidify my experience of God as being truly good. If God could care so much for a little animal, how much more must he care for me? (Sounds kind of like a Bible verse, huh…)
I am sad that Abby is gone, yet I know that God is good. I believe she is with God. I also believe that God showed her much love and mercy by helping her find a family for the last year of her life. Abby certainly had a rough life before she came our way but God blessed her (and us) by giving her a safe and loving home. I can’t wait to see Abby again. She will be able to hear and she won’t be riddled with anxiety like she was here. She will just be the sweet, carefree girl that she was made to be. How beautiful that day will be.
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