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Grief and dealing with loss


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I’ve decided to join this forum as I’m really struggling with guilt at the moment. I lost my beautiful little girl Daisy a Bichon frise in May at aged 14 years and 6 months. I had Daisy from a little pup, straight away she brought so much joy and love into our lives, she was such a little character! we are all heartbroken. Daisy lived with me and my ex partner for 10 years, we would take her on holidays to our caravan, out for meals out for walks, to the beach, all the lovely things you do with our fur babies. My Mum and Dad doted on her too as while I was in work she would stay with them in the days where my Mum would cook her food etc, she had the best dinners lol they always took her out and gave her so much love. The last 5 years has been a nightmare for me I was due to get married and had a beautiful home when my world came crashing down and I found out my parter had cheated, the relationship broke down and I had to sell my home and cancel my wedding. I then moved back in with my parents. It was a very difficult time for me as I thought I had my life planned out after being with someone for such a long time. The reason I’m bringing this up is because since becoming single again at aged 35 I was going out allot, I was practically out most weekends, I would also go away on city breaks with my friends who helped me so much. Obviously Daisy would be with my parents while I was doing these things. I would also take Daisy with my if I went out during the week like up a friends house or down the pub etc. but as she was aging she didn’t really enjoy it so much. Loosing Daisy has absolutely killed me, I was in absolute denial two weeks leading up to her passing, I didn’t want to listen to vets or anyone ! I was just heartbroken. Now Daisy has gone I’m riddled with guilt thinking about all the times I went out on the weekends, and the city breaks! I should have spent this with her, I feel like I maybe took her for granted, I feel like I should have realised that she was not going to be here for many years to come and spent more time with her. I just feel so so guilty for doing this. What must she think every time I was leaving to go out. I’m just really really sad, it’s been six months now and I still feel horrendous. I feel like I failed her. Can anyone help me or give me advice ?
You haven't failed her at all. You looked after all her needs and gave her a wonderful life, but you also looked after your own needs. And you have every right to do that. In fact looking after yourself would have also made you a better dog owner as you were in a better place yourself.

Does that make sense?

It's natural to feel guilt though. I feel ridiculously guilty about the fact that on my dog's last walk (which ended up at the vet...) I didn't buy him a whole ice cream to himself, or a bar of milk chocolate. And there's so many things I wish I'd done differently, been more patient, and so on.... There's always things we wish we did differently, but our dogs both had great lives and knew they were loved.

Grief and pain will always be there, but it does become a smaller part of you. And you are not alone - plenty of people here have gone through the same. If you are really struggling, though, the Blue Cross offer an excellent bereavement service: Pet bereavement and pet loss
BTW, I wonder if the guilt comes because our brains are trying to find ways to make our loss seem somehow OK - 'If I'd let him have this, if I'd played with him then, it wouldn't have been so bad...' But losing your loved pet is always going to be horrible, and nothing could have changed that.
I'd just add that guilt is a normal and recognised part of the grieving process, so please don't think you are alone in this.

If it would help - and only if you want to, when you feel able, it would be nice to see some pictures.
Thank you so much for both your replies.

I honestly feel like I’m loosing it, my parents are worried as they feel like I’m tormenting myself. I loved her so much and I was completely in denial when I was told she had kidney failure. I knew she was ageing and looking back now there were obvious signs. I hate how my life turned out, it was such turmoil everything was chaos, I felt like I had to get out as I found it very difficult moving back in with my parents again. I read back through text where my Mum messaged me “Daisy's bored” when are you home. I just feel so so bad and guilty. And I was always out on the weekends just getting drunk etc. I would always do as much as I could with her, we used to take her out for meals etc. but to be honest the last year of her life she really just liked to be at home, she was elderly x she slept with me every night and in the morning I would take her to the toilet then put her on the sofa with a blanket on her before I went to work. I honestly can’t think of good times at the minute as I feel like I failed her, again took her for granted ! Even though I love her so much. I also had to take her to be put to sleep and it was the most traumatic experience, I can’t even speak about it as I block it out. I start panicking, I just miss her. I’m so sorry if I sound crazy. I just don’t know what to do.
Please give the Blue Cross service a call. I know someone who found them really helpful.
Is this normal to feel like this, have you both felt like this and had these feelings in the past ?
Is this normal to feel like this, have you both felt like this and had these feelings in the past ?

I have, to an extent. There is almost a desire to torture yourself with the thoughts, maybe because the pain makes your dog feel closer - does that make sense?

There are absolutely no rules about how grief unfolds - it's not a progression from one stage to the next, more a tangled mess like a ball of wool a litter of kittens have played with. However you feel, it is OK, and valid, and no one can tell you that it is wrong. But I agree with JoanneF that it would be a good idea for you to contact the Blue Cross.
We'll still be here to talk to you if and when we can help though xx
Yes, I have felt the pain of losing pets. I don't think people who haven't had pets they love understand; but for me, the saying 'the greater the love; the greater the pain' makes sense.

Like Judy says, there is no 'normal', everyone is individual.
Thank you for this everyone. I feel like it helps to speak to people who have been through this and understand.

I wish they could live as long as us, but they can’t. Just finding it really hard at the moment and I have allot of regret. I think when she was around 13.5 years she really just wanted to stay at home and lie in her favourite place, I did take her out every day but short walks. I found that hard as I could handle sitting in my parents house every night, I felt like I was being smothered, that’s how I was always out. I just wish I didn’t do it now x I hope she knows I’m sorry x
She was in a favourite place in your parents' home so she was safe, fed, warm, comfortable and happy. And clearly, very much loved.

Take a lot of comfort from that.
Aaaand - think how awful it would be if they outlived us. There is something comforting in seeing the beginning and ending rather than worrying if the next person to take them on if we leave them behind is really going to do what's best. The loss rips our hearts apart every time but it could be very much worse.
You definitely haven't failed her. She was still loved and cared for!

Have you considered going to therapy? Any form of loss results in grieving, and losing pets is no different. A professional therapist will be able to support you with the grieving process.
Hello both, thank you for your reply.

I have considered speaking to a councillor. I just feel like I’m getting worse not better. The guilt is horrible, she was so so sweet and I just feel bad for not giving her my full attention I guess when I busy going out. I know it sounds crazy but I can’t help but think it. I can’t even think/deal with her last day at the vets, I can feel almost panic setting over me and extreme sadness if I remotely think of it.

I’m so lucky I had her for 14.5 years when I speak to people who have lost their beloved fur babies allot younger. I just miss her so much
It can feel like it gets worse at time - for me, several months in, and even now (over 1.5 years later) I have moments of 'OMG, he's STILL gone, how can that be?' Which is illogical, of course. But grief is illogical, and however you feel, it is valid, it is very real to you, and you are not crazy.

We can't give our dogs our full attention the whole time, and we can't always let them do/walk where they want, as far as they want, and so on. We need a life too. It's obvious she had a great life. I know you know that really, but again, that doesn't invalidate the emotions you're feeling. Do please speak to a counsellor, maybe a pet bereavement counsellor. Losing a pet can feel harder than losing a loved human, and you will want a counsellor who understands that.
I'm so sorry to read your first post in this thread, and your responses to the replies. I can empathise completely. I lost my first dog, Jimmy, in March this year. I was, and still am, completely and totally heartbroken. The day we lost him was just awful, and I would have done almost anything to save him. For me, that sense of loss is still very much with me. Occasionally, a photo or video will pop up on my phone with him in, and it just upsets me beyond words (I actually have tears welling up typing this!). I miss him so much, it's painful. I don't think I'll ever get over it.

We ended up getting another rescue dog, Rusty. He's a delight. Being with him does take my mind off Jimmy, but of course I'll never, ever, forget my special boy. My bond with Rusty will get stronger and stronger as time goes on and I love him dearly.

I do think you need to chat to someone if you're feeling down. Some good recommendations have been made, talking to someone can make you feel better, if only through sharing what you're going through. I'd happily take up the role of a listener if talking to a complete, but understanding, stranger is comfortable for you.

Take comfort in knowing your beloved dog was in a safe and loving home, loved by you and your family members. We all have our lives to lead, so going out and doing just that isn't in any way a reflection of the love you have for your dog. Failing her would be abandoning her on the street, not feeding her, not sheltering her, physically abusing her. I can't see that you've done any of these things, so please try to understand you've done nothing to feel guilty about. We all have those "what if?" questions. I do. Lots. But they're unanswerable and rather than concern ourselves with what could have been, we should try and focus on the what was - all the good, all the fun, all the laughter and joy. Without you, your dog would not have had any of these things.

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