How to Grieve for a Very Good Dog

How to Grieve for a Very Good Dog

I was walking home from getting my second vaccination shot last March when I suddenly felt like I couldn’t stand. Everything about the vaccine was fine. It was just that I had lost someone very dear to me a few days prior and I was overcome with crippling despair.

I plopped in the dirt next to the side of the road, wailing while I fumbled with my phone to find the number for Blue Cross Blue Shield’s counseling hotline. I explained my needs to an obstacle course of automated gatekeepers and finally got through to a human.

“My partner died two days ago,” I managed to say between sobs.

“Oh, I am so sorry,” said the woman on the phone, clearly moved by my distress. She gave me phone numbers for grief counselors in my area; I headed home with tears running down my face.

What I didn’t say is that my “partner” was a dog. A beautiful yellow Lab named Sunny, who died at 15 and a half.

When Sunny was euthanized in my backyard two days earlier, I knew that adjusting to life without her would be hard. What happened instead was more like a tsunami of grief that swept me out to sea. Now that I’m pushing 60, I thought I was fully experienced in coping with the death of loved ones. But the sadness from losing Sunny was far greater than what I had previously endured after the passing of my parents, grandparents, and other dogs. I was surprised and somewhat terrified that I had the capacity to cry so much.

The author with Sunnt in Flagstaff, AZ in 2019
The author with Sunny in 2019 (Photo: Courtesy Eirini Pajak)

The post How to Grieve for a Very Good Dog appeared first on Outside Online.


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