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OUR DOG DIED DURING THE PANDEMIC AND I FELT GUILTY AND SELFISH ABOUT GRIEVING

On March 13th this year, our beloved rescue dog, Faith, had an emergency splenectomy (you can read all about it here).  It was a terrifying experience for The Hubs and me because our pets are a very important part of our family unit (we didn’t create little humans).

We thought that was the crappiest day ever until a few days later when we found out she had an incurable cancer called hemangiosarcoma and had between 2-4 months to live. Our world was immediately shattered and it was all happening during the pandemic.

Faith passed away in early May and I spiraled into a deep depression due to feelings of guilt and selfishness, but I’m finally coming out of it because of a friend’s unconditional love and compassion.

DEALING WITH FAITH’S CANCER DURING LOCKDOWN

Faith enjoying her last hurrahs – her favorite place to be was home with her family (4.11.20). 

Faith’s cancer diagnosis came right before Florida went on lockdown for the pandemic.  This certainly brought a lot of new challenges such as taking her to the vet (curbside) and ordering her palliative supplements online (delayed shipping).  Talk about adding a lot more anxiety to our heaping plates.

However, the lockdown ended up being a blessing in disguise for us because it forced The Hubs and me to slam the brakes on our busy daily lives, giving us a lot more time to spend with Faith.

We tried to make every day special for her although sometimes, it was tough because we knew our days with her were soon coming to an end.   There were TONS of walks, car rides, treats, snuggles, naps, kisses, and happy dances in the grass during those long days: memories we’ll cherish forever.

You’d never know she was a sick dog – she enjoyed every day to the fullest (4.11.20).

Faith did amazingly well for 7 weeks – you’d never know she was a sick dog!  We took lots of photos and videos to the point where she was probably ready to shout, “YOU’RE BEING SO EXTRA RIGHT NOW!” if she could.

Then the 8th week was quickly creeping into view and we prayed she’d make it past this milestone (2 months is the point where most dogs with this cancer die).

Sadly, that’s the week she started going downhill – she made it a total of 58 days after surgery.

Faith and her sisters soaking up the sun together. It’s as if they knew she was leaving us soon (4.22.20). 

Faith passed away the morning of May 9th in the backseat of my car while rushing her to the emergency vet. It all happened so fast – HSA causes massive internal bleeding and her poor little body just couldn’t handle it any longer.

She slipped into unconsciousness on her doggy bed right after I repeatedly told her how much I loved her and that it was ok if she needed to leave us: that her momma and poppa will be fine.

It was a bittersweet blessing that her passing happened the way it did because not only was she terrified of going to the vet, but she also spared us from making “the decision.”

But now my favorite girl was gone forever and my already-aching heart was beyond crushed.

SPIRALING INTO A DEEP DEPRESSION AFTER FAITH’S DEATH

My favorite girl in her favorite spot on her favorite bed (5.18.18).

I immediately fell into a deep depression (which is unsual for me) because I felt so guilty about grieving Faith’s death while so many people were (and still are) suffering in the world because of the ongoing pandemic. It felt so selfish to me.

I attempted to write blog posts but every time I sat in front of my computer, I just couldn’t do it.  I couldn’t justify writing about interior decorating while so many people were sick and dying or losing their livelihoods.

I finally realized that I needed to grieve about more than Faith’s death and world events.  I needed to grieve the (hopefully temporary) loss of my photography businesses I’ve been growing for the last 5 years.

I needed to grieve the loss of seeing friends & family, playing music with my band, and my daily life in general. I’m high-risk for COVID and I only leave home to take the dogs for a walk or picking up curbside orders.

I’m typically a very optimistic person but honestly, I had a lot of difficulty finding any silver linings at all.

THE LOVE AND COMPASSION OF A FRIEND SAVED ME

Faith chillin’ with her stylish Doggles at our last house (10.27.13).

Then a couple of weeks ago, a sweet friend of mine lovingly told me that I had every right to grieve Faith’s death because she was such an important part of my family.

She also said that everybody was looking for distractions from life right now and that I should get back to writing because it’s actually providing a service to people.

When she said those things to me, it felt like a hundred bricks were lifted off my shoulders. It felt like I was given permission to grieve the loss of the best dog I ever had and my friend’s words helped my mental state so much and I’m forever grateful for her love and compassion.

I’m happiest and at my best when being creative and I desperately needed to get back to focusing on that aspect of my life in order to help my mental health and well-being.  It’s been quite challenging, but it’s also been such a blessing getting back to feeling artistic and useful.

One of my favorite portraits of my favorite girl.  RIP, my sweet angel.

If you also lost your beloved pet during the pandemic, please give yourself permission to grieve your heartbreaking loss.  Pets are such incredibly important parts of our lives, especially right now when we need their unconditional love, happy dances, and endless sloppy kisses the most.

And if you lost a human loved one during the pandemic, I am so deeply sorry for your loss – I can’t begin to imagine what you are going through.  I’m here if you need a virtual hug or shoulder to cry on;  I’m a really good listener.

Just contact me – I promise to return your message within 24 hours. We all need someone to lean on during difficult times and there’s absolutely no shame in seeking help.

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Thank you so much for following my blog.  Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay hopeful.  XOXO ❤︎

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