I’ve always respected and admired people who act as caretakers for those who are dying. If it’s not your profession, it’s one of the most emotionally and mentally draining things you can do if you love the person for whom you’re caring.
I would never equate losing my dog Rosie with losing a person, but the process is similar. On September 29th I blogged about the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
I seem to be wavering between the last 2 stages now.
I know she’s dying. No denial.
Any anger comes from the frustration I feel with myself for sometimes just wanting it to be over.
No bargaining anymore.
Here are the definitions of the other 2 stages and my comments on where I am.
Depression: Two types of depression are associated with mourning. The first is a reaction to practical implications relating to the loss. Sadness and regret predominate. We worry about the cost of treatment and burial. We worry that, in our grief, we have neglected others. This phase may be eased by a bit of helpful cooperation and a few kind words. The second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to say farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.
I’m very sad, but have no regret. I worry about the cost of treatment. I have definitely neglected my friends because I’m reluctant to leave her and can’t afford to board her very often. I’m going to visit some friends on Saturday for an early Thanksgiving dinner and will have to spend the night. I hate to leave her though I know my neighbors will take very good care of her for the few hours I’m away. Preparation to separate and to say farewell – can we ever really be prepared? I am definitely depressed.
Acceptance: Some people never reach this stage. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. They resist the inevitable and deny the opportunity to make peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression.
Though depressed, I have accepted the inevitable. She is going to die – soon. The lumps from the lymphoma are getting bigger and more numerous. I can’t rub her head anymore because they are so sensitive. As I rub her tummy and back, new bumps appear and grow almost overnight. Withdrawn and calm – yes.
I’m rational and logical. It’s how I deal with life. It’s how I’m dealing with Rosie’s death even though it hurts and the waiting sucks.
My friend Barb’s husband has been dying for 4 years. He’s had one cancer after the other and is now down to 105 pounds. I’ve tried to be supportive and helpful to her, but don’t feel I ever truly understood how wearing it is until now. In the last couple of months she's finally started to move towards acceptance.
Knowing how difficult this is for me with my sweet dog, I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for her and those who are going or have been through this process with a person they love.
I am in awe of them.