Wednesday, November 14, 2007


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 Withdrawn and calm – yes.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.


Bun Bun said...

Hi there.
I can't believe I found your blog. I clicked thru Memory Writer's Network. My name is Mary. I've only just read your most recent post about Rosie. The last thing you want to hear about is someone else who is or has recently been in the situation you find yourself in now. But, I recently was forced to make the same decision, with my beloved Jake.

Bun Bun said...

Urgh. I'm crying at the thought of what you're going thru. It is so difficult. The day to day, not wanting to go anywhere or do anything for fear of leaving your pet. The bills. The wondering if you are doing the best thing for your dog. The guilt over mourning your dog so deeply. I would always make excuses, 'I know he's not a human, but...' Anyway, I'm here if you want to rant some more. I'm going to go back and read some more of your posts. Be strong. Rosie doesn't want to leave you either. And loves you very much. She trusts you, and knows you will both do the right thing.

Josephine Damian said...

AW, you have some difficult decisions ahead, as I did losing two of my kitties to cancer this year.

I kept asking myself which was the greater cruelty: having the suffering continue, albeit the suffering came and went and there were many hours a day where the pet rested comfortably and gave and received love.

Or take her to the vet (and it would be the ER vet if I decided to give up/give in to death at night or on a weekend) and have her final moments be nothing stress and fear in place thyat represents nothing but stress and fear for her?

So I opted to let the pet decide when they were ready to go. My last cat who died lived 14 months longer that the vet said - the vet said put her down, but she deserved those extra 14 months of life which while really tough at times, and especially at the end, were months where she experienced much love and comfort.

Anonymous said...

I know the waiting and watching and looking for signs of distress and everything is what I can only describe as pure hell.
Some days it just sits in the back of your mind, always ready to jump in your thoughts if you let yourself stop working or keep your mind busy. Some days it's in the front of your mind, not being able to even go to the bathroom in the next room in fear of you leaving and coming back three minutes later to find them gone, lost when you aren't looking. I hope that Rosie's last days are peaceful - I'm sure they will be, you'll make sure of it.

Mary Witzl said...

I can sympathize. I've lost both of my parents and any number of beloved pets. The worst thing is that nothing entirely gets rid of the pain of loss; every person and individual pet has their own complex personality and a whole world of associations for those who love them.