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I wrote this back in March 2002 and posted it on the justlabradors forum. It seems that everytime I take Misty in for tests there is someone either coming out of an exam room in tears or coming into the clinic in tears clutching a dying dog.

Death is part of life, and grief is the process we experience when coming to terms with it. Grief hurts. It can stop us cold to a standstill. I wrote this as I was coping with the loss of my Red.

I post it here in hopes it may prove useful to others.

On Grief and Grieving

We nurture and love them and try to protect them, and they return it with love and devotion and countless precious moments and stories. And then they die. They leave us suddenly or slowly, awash in remorse, angry with ourselves, waiting for them to return, as if we have suffered the loss of a child or our best friend. We have. Our Labs are a part of our family. They are part of us. When they walk over the Rainbow Bridge, a part of us dies also. The grief can be all encompassing. We are numbed and in shock. But we cope, and stumble our way through the stages of grief. For each of us the path is different. It twists and turns, goes up and down, sometimes it backtracks, and sometimes is a long journey. Most of us come through this severe storm. For some, the sunlight has four feet, a slobbering mouth and descriptive name. Others heal in other fashions. But we heal. Acceptance is the last stop on the journey.

Grieving is part of life. There are at least four stages: guilt, denial, anger, and depression. It is through these stages our path winds. Getting through these stages is a difficult journey. We must rely upon ourselves to work through them with help from different people and resources: our vet, our family, our friends who treat their dogs as we do ours, the members of the Just Labradors forum, the library system, and the Internet among many others.

There is an excellent article dealing with pet loss in the September 2001 issue of Dog Fancy Magazine by Phil Davis titled “How Do I Go On?” It contains a list of resources. It may be available at your local library or available through the publisher.

The American Animal Hospital Association has put out a pamphlet called Pet Loss and Bereavement - The Loss of Your Pet. It may be available through your vet’s office. In it is a good list of what they call the normal signs of grief. According to the pamphlet “the most disturbing but normal sign of grief is a hallucination of your pet...you think you see, hear, feel or smell your pet in brief flashes.” The list continues with the following normal signs of grief:

“Crying, shock, numbness, confusion, fatigue, restlessness, depression, aching, loneliness, blaming, sleep problems, irritability, eating problems, anxiety, sadness, withdrawal, anger, relief, denial, lack of focus, guilt, sighing, and meaningful dreams about your pet”

Red, my Labrador retriever got sick very suddenly. When they recommended putting him down, I was not prepared. It was a shock. It was a difficult and painful decision I had to make and live with, and it had to be made quickly. I have experienced many of the signs of grief I have listed in this writing. I have started crying while at work, while talking about some of the things Red would do. Sometimes I cannot sleep. But the most unusual experiences I have had in dealing with Red’s death have been the hallucinations. Shortly after he died I called out to Wife who was in another room if she wanted to go run an errand with me. As I looked down the hallway as I was speaking, I saw Red lying where he sometimes did, nose on paws. When I said “go” he raised his head and looked me in the eye, and was gone. Several times the garage door has stopped and reversed as if a dog had finally finished doing dog things and was coming in the garage. Just like Red. Once I was sure I saw Red when this happened. Once both my wife and I heard his cough coming from the direction of “his” chair. To this day every once in a while I feel a cold nose on my arm or leg when no dog is there mostly when I have been thinking of him.

There are many ways to deal with the death of your Labrador retriever. Among them, celebrate their life. Paint their picture, make a scrap book or photo album celebrating their life and accomplishments, write stories and poems about them; submit photos of them to cyber shows in the Gone But Never Forgotten category.

You can also donate time or money in their name to local animal shelters, or to Lab Med and Labrador Life Line to help defray medical expenses of rescued Labrador retrievers, or to Universities with Veterinary Medicine Research programs. You can plant trees. You can also help other people get through their loss by listening and sharing.

You can also get another Lab. Your Lab taught you many things about raising a Lab. Your late Lab may find it strange you not practice what he or she taught you. You can purchase a puppy, or rescue a Lab or adopt an older Lab in need of a forever home. You can be a foster a Lab while they wait for their forever home. The possibilities are endless.

Grief is a very intense emotion that can be all consuming and destructive if not recognized. It is OK to cry. It is OK to see your Lab, or to be depressed. It is OK not to get rid of your Lab’s toys, water dish, collar or leash. It is OK to experience these things. That is what grief is. It is also OK to move on. Not on a particular timetable, but one day at a time.



Some helpful websites include:
www.geocites.com/Heartland/Plains/6936/yorkies/petloss/petloss.html

www.pet-loss.net/index.html This is a comprehensive site that deals with a bunch of different side issues.

This next one is “Taking the Lead” and is a very extensive UK site dealing with dog training, rescue and other stuff.
http://www.takingthelead.co.uk/index.htm

http://www.pet-loss.net/resources/Int.html

http://www.ability.org.uk/pet_loss.html

www.rainbowbridge.com

www.avma.org/care4pets

http://www.lightning-strike.com/main.htm

There are also hotlines and grief councilors. Numbers may be found by searching the Internet or by contacting your veterinarian.

Books on pet loss are available at bookstores and libraries. If your local library does not have them, your library can borrow them through inter-library loan. Titles mentioned in the Dog Fancy article include:

Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet, Moira Anderson Allen, Alpine Publications, 1996

Coping with the Loss of a Pet: A Gentle Guide for All Who Love a Pet, Christina M. Lemieux, PhD. Wallace R Clark & Co. 1988

When Your Pet Dies: How To Cope with Your Feelings, Jamie Quakenbush and Denise Graveline, Simon & Schuster 1985 is available through the American Animal Hospital Association.

Labs who cross the Rainbow Bridge should be mourned for their passing, and celebrated for all they gave us freely.

Originally posted on JL March 23, 2002
 

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Hi Labdad,

I just wanted to say what a lovely article you have written. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of Red, i can only begin to imagine how hard it has been for you. I'm sure your story will help others in a similiar situation and help them cope with their loss, and also help them to move on.


There are many ways to deal with the death of your Labrador retriever. Among them, celebrate their life. Paint their picture, make a scrap book or photo album celebrating their life and accomplishments, write stories and poems about them; submit photos of them to cyber shows in the Gone But Never Forgotten category.
This is a great idea. Thanks for sharing Labdad.

Bradleysmum
 

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Superb Advice.

Took me a long time to get over the death of my last Lab. That unquestioning consistent companionship is not found in the same way with anything else (even dare I say it - with a fellow human)

I am honoured and humbled to have spent ten years with her.

I cherish her memory, look back with pride and admiration and most of all am content that she had a damn good life and lived it to the full.

As I have posted elsewhere, it has taken me a long time time to come round to getting another Labrador. How could another live up to Zara's legacy and could I give the time and same level of companionship with another dog whilst persuuing a career etc ?

Now have taken the plunge and got Poppy - I am delighted I have plucked up the courage.
 

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Now have taken the plunge and got Poppy - I am delighted I have plucked up the courage.
Good for you Stanley,
I don't think life would be complete without our furry companions by our side.

:wink:
 

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Found a lovely poem, i'd like to share with those who have submitted posts to this section of the forum.

God bless our Pets

Author- Anna Charlston

They say memories are golden, well, maybe that is true. I never wanted memories, I only wanted you. A million times I needed you, a million times I cried. If love alone could have saved you, you never would have died. In life I loved you dearly, in death I love you still. In my heart you hold a place no one could ever fill. If tears could build a stairway and heartache make a lane, I'd walk the path to heaven and bring you back again. Our family chain is broken, and nothing seems the same. But as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again .


I think this poem says it all.
 

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Hi Labdad, I just joined here and put my intoroduction in the place for new members. Basically I wont go into the details again as I know its sad and now realise iot was the wrong place to put it as I have now discovered this section of the site.

We lost our 2nd lab last week. "Kirsti", and I kept her monkey, and collar. The monkey still smells of her and only hope that the smell wont ever go away.


Anyway, Im about to burst into tears again so if u want to know more then visit the new members section and read my message in there.


Thanks again LabDad for your message in here.
 
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Dear Labdad
Your piece on grief and grieving has been a great help to me. I thought I was going mad when I thought I could smell my dog Ollie in the house after he died I suppose technically I could for the first few days with all his doggie things around. The first night I desperately wanted to see him, to come back to us I suppose. I left all his favourite toys that night around his basket and now sometimes from upstairs I’m sure I can hear him downstairs in the night sleeping.
I am very much still darting about from one stage of grief to another at the moment and there isn’t a single day that I haven’t cried yet. I have different days of sadness or joy remembering the happy times Ollie gave to me and how privileged I have been to have been chosen by Ollie to share his life with him.
I know that one day there will be another lab that will want to share their life with me and when that time comes life will be great but getting from this day to that day is so difficult.
Ollie has shown me that life is so short and we only get one go at it and I intend to change my career from administration to being a dog groomer, I start college training next year to learn the trade and at 37 for the first time in my life I actually know what I want to do for a living something I have never felt before. I thank Ollie for that.
And thank you for sharing with us your hurt and pain for your own great Labs it's hard but it does help.

Michaela
 

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Hi
Thank you for your kind words. Dealing with the death of a loved one is very difficult. Sound like you are on the mend.

When Jack came into our lives two weeks after Red died, Jack really stirred things up. Jack was a much younger dog with a different personality. Sometimes I got angry he was not Red. Almost right away Jack searchedout all of Red's fluffy toys Red would carefully carry about and tore them to shreds as if telling me Red was gone and Jack was here and things would be different now. I was rather upset that he tore up the toys but I got over it.
It is very hard but try not to judge your next dog against Ollie. They love you very hard but just in another way.
 

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Death IS a part of life

I was (yet again!) overcome with grief at reading your article LabDad - how good to be able to identify with other Lab Lovers who have lost their dearest friends!

Miffie, my Golden Lab, died ialmost 9 months ago at the age of 14. She had had a happy and full life and she gave me so much joy in mine. She was 'ailing' for ten days before her death - she pleaded with me by raising her eyebrows on more than one occasion during those last days to let her go. And I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO LISTEN, but I think she knew that it was hard for me. She died a very peaceful death at the hand of my vet at 12 noon on Tuesday June 22nd 2004. On the Monday evening, she wasn't in the least bit interested in eating the fresh chicken and rice which I had prepared for her - this was the way things had become over the last 10 days ... cooking 4 times a day for her as she no longer seemed able to eat a large meal. At 8 o'clock that evening she went out into the garden and collapsed ... I knew that she was just so tired of life - after all she was now 14 years and 8 months and wasn't able to do the things she had done in the past when she was younger. After much coaxing, I managed to get her back into the house and we both laid on the floor by the sofa for some 3 hours. She looked under her eyebrows at me and 'told' me yet again that she had had enough and wanted me to let her go. As for me, I didn't want to let her go but knew in my heart of hearts that the time was right ... I cried bucketfuls whilst lying there with her - must I REALLY say goodbye to a dear and faithful friend? At 11pm she got up and went to lay on her favourite bed behind the front door - and that was where she stayed until the Vet came along at 11:45am the next day. I had been sleeping downstairs with her for 4 months prior to this and on this particular night, I hardly slept at all ... I just laid with her and cuddled her. I rang my Vet at 8:30 am on the Tuesday and she showed me a great deal of compassion and understanding. She agreed that it was time to let Miffie go, and Miffie died peacefully in my arms.
I had already rung the Crematorium to arrange for them to take delivery of her body that day and I drove some 70 miles to take her there, and then went back the next day to spend a precious 20 minutes with her before she was cremated. I brought back her ashes ... I had some in a cardboard box as well as the ones in a wooden cask which is now on the piano underneath her picture. I scattered her remaining ashes at her favourite river in Wales where she and I had spent many happy hours together.

I had taken some 70 digital images of her a week or so before she died and some 2 months after her death I edited 1 of these which was a particularly good one, and had it enlarged and framed professionally.

I still don't know to this day how I coped with my grief during those days - I know I cried a lot .. in fact for almost a week non-stop. I thought about times in her life when maybe I could have been a better "mother" (the guilt factor) but no longer give myself a hard time for that. Nowadays I only think about the joy that she and I gave to each other. I wrote 10 poems to her memory during my grieving process, the following being one of them

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Ode to Miffie

I do so miss you Miffie
My dear and faithful friend
For it was on Tuesday
Your life came to an end

It seems now such a long time
Since we were together
And yet in many ways
We will be close for ever

There barely is a moment
When I don’t think of you
The love and understanding
Between us was so true

And now I face the future
Without you by my side
Always and for ever
I’ll think of you with pride

What we had was so special
And you were my best friend
Thoughts of joy you gave me
Are with me to the end

When that sad day did arrive
When you had had enough
I knew I had no option
I had to just be tough

When I made that decision
To have you put to sleep
It was the best one ever
Yet filled with feelings deep

And now I feel so lonely
In oh, so many ways,
Yet always and forever
You’ll be with me all my days

I’ve loved you so, and still do,
This love will never end
Because you know my Miffie
You’ll always be my friend[

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

She brought so much joy to my life and I never thought I would want another dog because I believed that I had only enough love for her because she was so very special to me. Miffie will always have a special place in my heart but I now feel ready to move on and am currently on a misssion to give a forever home to another Lab that needs one ... that Lab, I have no doubt, will be very special too!

Death is, indeed, a part of life!

Mitzi45 :D
 

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Hi
What a wonderful poem. I wish I could have been as clever as you to put pen to paper, Emma my Chocolate girl who was 15 years and three months when I lost her really to old age in September 2004. Those words were so appropriate to her Thank you I am crying buckets.
 

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oh wow i know this post was from last year but i have only just found it due to being stuck in limbo on the forums and browsing all the threads. ..lol..

made me cry those are such lovely posts and poems

tessa our choclate lab died in november 2004 she was 6yrs old.. we didnt have time to say goodbye it was not expected and it was a huge huge shock..she had been on and off her food for about a week took her the vet they said could be sore throat like tonsiltis so they gave anitibotics and anti inflamertrys..for a few days she seemed to perk up a bit and eat her food then she went downhill again not eating not even coming to me for a cuddle and play..so took her back they booked her in the day after for a routine op to see if there was anything stuck in her throat that would explain the not eating...
she hates the vets so my husband took her in the car straight to the main vets were they do the ops instead of her waiting in our vets to be transported...when they go tthere they gave her a sedative to make her drowsy so ian could leave her...
2hrs later we get a phone call the vet said she had cancer of the throat and toungue in its very advanced stages and there was nothing they could do...he was even shoked as he was not expecting it.. we asked if she could be treated in any way but as its her throat and toungue nothing could be cut out to give her that lil bit longer with us so we had to give permission for her to be put to sleep while she was under...it was very very upsetting as soon as my hubby put the phone down i had to make him phone back up so i could go up and see her and say my goodbyes to her ..i will never forget seeing her lying on a blanket with another blanket laying over her she looked like she was just sleeping and would wake up any minute..her collar and lead were laying next to her i sat with her on the floor and all i could say was im sorry for not being with her at the end after awhile i had to leaave and go back to our home..
thats when the blame came in i should of took her the vets more often and why didnt the vet see the cancer when he checked in her throat..then the guilt of the times i shouted at her or didnt walk her as often as i should..or not being htere when she died..
the hard part was telling hte kids as they were expecting her home when they got in..


although we had brandy and charlie the house still seemed empty tessas place on the couch tessa food bowl on the floor brandy was walking round looking for her aswell,, when we let the other dogs out i still shouted tessa then you have to kick yourself..to this day i miss her like crazy my hubby has put her picture on a cup fo rme :) and about 1 month after she died i badgered away at him to get another one i dont know why i just had to get another lab ian called me selfish as we had the other 2 but i badgerd away at him i just wanted a lab of any colour i justed needed to get that empty space filled..and as you know nearly 4 weeks ago we got another lab rosze the spooky thing is tessa is roszes great aunt so i say rosze was meant to come live with us and we still have a bit of tessa with us..

when we think back everything falls into place tessa was a bit overweight and in the last 4weeks before she died she seemed to loose it we were not concerned as she needed to loose the weight also the amount of fur on the wooden floor tripled so the sighns were there we just never picked up or realised she had cancer and i still feel guilty for that as if we noticed sooner she might of been able to have treatment...

all ppl deal with the loss of there pets differently idealt with it by buying another lab 4mths later but rosze will never and could not replace tessa and we will never forget the joys tessa brought to our house as she was our very first lab :):):)

must admit we are very paranoid now about the health of our dogs..lol..and when it comes to there shedding we watch closely to make sure there is not more than usual wrap em in cotton wool..lol..but our vet is very good and very understanding :)
 

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Hi Claire
I know what you went through. Many years ago I had a yellow Bitch called Lindy. She had similar symptoms to your bitch. Backwards and forwards to the vet, until I asked for an appointment at the vet college.
I had to leave her there, and as she left me to go with a nurse down the corridor, she looked back as if to say bye bye Mum, I can still see her little face now. Then instead of picking her up that evening I had a telephone call, to say she had stomach cancer and could they let her go under the anaesthetic. That is many years ago but I still shed a tear like now I have been very much reminded. Do not blame yourself, at the time I owned 6 dogs, but they are like children and they are all different with their own characteristics, so you miss each and everyone of them Regards Meg
 

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and all i could say was im sorry for not being with her at the end after awhile i had to leaave and go back to our home..
I know exactly how you feel and felt so privelidged (if thats the right word) to be with my last lab Gillie when he was put to sleep. As he went, i was sitting in his kennel with his head on my lap.After all the times he was there for me, it was the least i could do to be with him. Sometimes though, it's not possible to be with them, and you cant blame yourself .
 

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Last Thursday afternoon we lost our beloved Dalmatian Monty. He had been in a lot of pain with arthritis and in the last few days of his life he was having trouble breathing and his back legs were too weak to hold him up so we made the painful decision ..... I have a dull painful ache in my chest the whole time and I can't stop crying. My beautiful little Mitzie has been such a comfort but I know she misses him too. At least we got to say goodbye to him- he was such a beautiful boy.
 

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Hi Chocky

Im so sorry to hear of your loss. My heart aches for you too... I can honestly say that all of us at the forum feel for you at this terrible time. You should however, take comfort that there is no longer any pain for Monty. I know it's hard to look at it like that, but that is the only way to draw any reason and comfort from what has happened.

My love and thoughts are with you and your family
 
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