“Everyone is taught that angels have wings,
but the lucky ones of us find they have four paws”
Few months ago I lost my best friend Bambi, a vivacious Chihuahua who was 13 years old when she developed congestive hearth failure, and 18 months later passed away due to her heart no longer being able to perform normal daily tasks. It was the first loss in a household full of pets and farm animals, which made it very hard in most family members, especially when you don’t know how to cope with the loss or what to expect afterwards.
Losing a furry friend can be as painful as losing any other family member, but fortunately, there are many resources in place that help us cope with those losses.
The process of mourning has several stages and everyone grieves in a totally, different, individual way, influenced by our social and cultural environments. Sometimes we get criticized by others for not being morning enough or properly, but who sets the standards for grieving? There is no manual or guidelines for morning a loved one, especially when we lose a beloved pet, and it becomes a process as individual as every human being.
The Five Stages of Grief
In the 1997 book “On Death and Dying,” Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described the five stages of grief. These stages are solely meant to understand grief, and they do not occur necessarily in that order, they can overlap, or you may not experience all f them, as I said above, there is no formula for grief.
These are Dr. Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief:
- Denial: Initial reaction of shock, disbelief, or denial, and looking for a justification or explanation.
- Anger: As we process the loss, we start developing anger and blaming others for their pet’s loss.
- Bargaining: Normally this is a feeling of guilt, we try to find explanations or ways of how the loss could have been prevented. This is the “what if” stage of grieving.
- Depression: This is part of the normal process, since we are living a sad situation, and plays a very important role i the healing process.
- Acceptance: In this stage we come to terms of the pet’s death. WE accept it as part of the life cycle, and helps us t move on.
It is hard to resume our lives without the presence of those loved ones that left us, and in some cases, basically, we need to learn a new way of living now on.
But the thought of Bambi’s last days, surrounded by love and care makes it more bearable, and knowing that she is in Heaven watching over us. I will always miss her tantrums, her chasing the neighbor’s cats all over our yard, challenging and barking to the gigantic dogs on the streets, getting mad at people who dared to walk by our gate, etc.
I am happy there were more the good than the bad days, and I will always remember my rebel, free soul, to who nobody could tell her what to do, and didn’t take a “NO” for an answer. She lived life at its fullest in her own terms, and it is how she will be remember.