Grief and Comfort

posted March 23rd, 2019 by
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“Grieving over a loved one with the adoring kinship of a pet”

By Sherri Goodall


As I turn into my driveway, I get a lump in my throat. A little piece of my heart shatters and falls away.

I’ve had this feeling now for over a month. My love, my husband, best friend passed away Nov. 4, 2018. We shared close to 54 years of marriage.

I know I will get through it. I have to, since I’ve been told I can’t go around it, under it or over it—I must go through it.

Suddenly, two little, white furry faces appear at the back door. They’ve been there since I turned the corner onto my street. Somehow they know I’m coming.

If I didn’t have those two little fur balls to welcome me, I don’t think I could enter this house day after day.

If you’re a pet person, you get the gist of what I’m saying.  But until you go through the unbelievable pain of losing your mate, you have no idea of the outpouring of comfort that comes just from looking into your fur babies’ eyes. They know; they feel your grief.

I’ve written articles about how sensitive a dog’s sense of smell is. They can smell an oncoming seizure, a diabetic crash, and they can smell death. I’ve seen it before when a dear friend of mine was in her last days of cancer, and her Poodle of several years—who wouldn’t leave her bedside, day or night, for weeks—suddenly got up, sniffed her once and walked away. My friend passed away that night.

My Westies, MacTwo and Jolene (yes, Jolene!), wanted only to get up on the bed with my husband and curl up next to him as long as he’d allow it. When he finally had to be on hospice care at home, they really couldn’t get up in the bed, but they would lie under it. I was so distraught that I’d have to leave the room at times, but my Westies stayed put. They have never chosen to be somewhere else other than at my heels when I’m home, but Jolene was crazy about my husband.

We’ve had Jolene since July 2018, so she didn’t have the history with my husband that MacTwo had (13 years). However, she was hell bent on conquering all males in the house, including my husband. She is small for a Westie, and her favorite trick was to wait until my husband was seated in his favorite chair with his laptop. Without warning, she would jump into his lap and sit herself right on the laptop so she could lick his face. The pillow that sits on the chair was a gift. It showed a Westie against a lush green backdrop.

At first, after my husband was gone, Jolene would jump up on the chair, curl up against the pillow and wait for her man to come home. MacTwo would go to the chair around 6 p.m. each evening and wait for my husband. It was dinnertime, of course, and he always fed them.

But neither of them does this anymore. They know.

They also know when I’m having a bad, sad day; they lick my feet, they jump on my legs, they want to be held to share comfort. It’s amazing to me how they can sense this the moment I get out of bed.

I am familiar with grieving over a pet. I’m not familiar with grieving over a loved one with the adoring kinship of a pet. It is soothing, calming and a gift from above.

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