The Loss of a Pet
A dear friend asked me what I would write about this month. Since I
truly believe a writer is most effective when he shares from his own
life experience, this month my organizing skills are focused on coping
with the loss of a treasured animal companion.
My wonderful golden retriever, who is acknowledged in both of my books,
appears at my web site and is mentioned at all of my lectures, passed
away on April 19th. Although she was 13 1⁄2 and I certainly realized
Kate\’s time was limited, her vet and I believed that Miss Katie would
make it to 15. Her presence, however, was requested in the halls of
heaven and she left after a mercifully brief illness.
When I returned home from the animal hospital, I looked at my home with
new eyes. Toys were scattered everywhere. Dog biscuits lived on my
kitchen counter in glass jars. My cupboards were full of her designer
dog food and countless supplements and medications. Everywhere I looked
I saw her things and I was overwhelmed with a wave of grief I could not
ever describe in words.
Friends urged me not to touch anything for weeks. Her death was a shock
and they wanted me to have time to adjust. Thinking like an organizer,
here are the decisions I made. I offer them not as a blue print for the
right way to handle such a profound loss but rather as a guideline for
a time when clarity of thought is at a premium.
By the way, if you don\’t own a dog, cat or any other companion animal,
you might want to keep these ideas in mind so that you can help your
friends and family cope in their hour of need.
First, I decided to take Katie\’s food to her vet. She does rescue work
with pugs and I wanted to help those dear, frightened creatures have at
least one good meal.
Katie had a boundless supply of supplements and medications and these were donated as well.
My best friend Susie has a wonderful mutt named Max. He inherited
Katie\’s dog biscuits. Another friend, Debbie, has two dogs, Rocky and
Dolly, and they got Katie\’s supply of what we dog owners lovingly call
There were some things I just had to leave in place: Katie\’s dog bed
and the toys and tennis balls that habitually graced my floor. These I
decided to keep and I couldn\’t tell you why. I was also moved to keep
out her food stand with her food and water bowls.
Two days after she died, I suddenly understood why those items had to
stay with me. My dear friend Tanya, who had come with me to the animal
hospital, brought her golden retriever to visit. Abby played with
Katie\’s toys, she rolled on her bed and refreshed herself with a drink.
It was as if Katie was reminding me to be gracious to all the animals
who would come to visit.
Well, that\’s what I know so far. If you\’d like to read the eulogy I
wrote in Kate\’s honor, please visit my website www.reginaleeds.com.
It\’s in the newsletter.