It is now 2 ½ months since Logan's death and it has given me some time to think about it more deeply. We all go through loss in our lives and I think most of us find it difficult. I wanted to share my experiences, like so many before me. It helps me and it might connect with something in you too.
Logan had been part of our family for over 8 years. Having a dog put to sleep is a decision that I have always dreaded, the decision to end the life of one of my dear companions.
When the time came the decision was easier for me as there were no other options. His condition was acute and there was nothing else the vets could do to help him.
Although it was difficult, I consider myself so fortunate to have been there at his passing. It really helped me accept the reality and made me feel I was still able to be there for him.
'You can take him home' the vet had said. I didn't understand.
'To bury him' he explained. 'Oh..'
'Or we can have him cremated for you'. .....'That would be good' I said.
'Unfortunately there is a cost' he said. 'How much?' I asked. He gave a figure ...
I wasn’t really thinking, my mind was racing, trying to understand the words, make a decision.
But then I found I could answer from some deeper place, with no doubt. Through my tears and pain I heard myself saying, to complete strangers
‘No it’s OK, I don’t need that. I KNOW where he is’ and I unconsciously put my hand on my heart.
We had recently moved to the area and these people were strangers to us. I really appreciated that the Hampton vets staff involved in the process were so empathetic. They showed all the care and compassion we could have hoped for at such an important time.
I drove home crying my eyes out. When I got home I contacted my daughters, the people that needed to know. I cried and cried. My sister rang, she listened. I woke up in the middle of the night crying. There was guilt loss, sadness, remorse. Pain
There was also an uncomfortable sense of relief. I had been worried for a while about Logan’s health. Nothing specific could be identified but something hadn't been right. Now I didn’t need to worry about it anymore. It was out of my hands. I felt guilty about this.
To be honest, I worry about all my dogs’ health, pretty much all of the time. With Logan's passing this realisation gave me a valuable lesson. Did I want to spend the rest of the time I had with any of my dogs continuing to worry about them? Or did I want to enjoy my time with them instead? The answer seems obvious. But worrying about others is something I have become a bit of an expert at over the years. I have to appreciate that is part of me also.
There was another aspect for me as well, the importance of emotional health. Our own emotional health affects our dogs. They feel our emotions, they can’t get out of the way of them. Our emotional health is one of the most important things that we can work on for the good of ourselves. We also owe it to the health of our dogs. I believe it’s AT LEAST as important as physical health. In truth physical, emotional or mental health can't be separated but as a culture we do tend to consider them separately.
Specifically, I believe if we hold onto stress, anxiety, negative blocked emotions, then our dogs feel it. Our stress can be detrimental to their health, just as it is detrimental to our own. That is my personal philosophy. It meant that I must bear some responsibility for Logan’s ill health and early death. So there has been that aspect to work with as well.
Feeling partly responsible for his untimely death, he would have been 12 in a few days time, is what I wonder about. How do I feel about that?
- Disappointed at myself for my part in it all
- Regretful that I didn’t spend more time enjoying his physical presence while I could
- Determined to learn what I can from the experience
The following day was spent, on my own, putting together a short blog, or letter really, to Logan, celebrating his life. It took me all day, going though old photos, thinking about him and what we had done together, how he had come into our life. It seemed the right thing to do and I found it a helpful way to celebrate his life and also to share.
The last time one of our dogs passed over was 9 years ago. It was in very different circumstances. I still hold onto feelings from that time. I felt responsible then as well. In fact Logan had come into our lives to fill the gap that Ben’s passing had made.
But this time I noticed that something in me had changed.
Strangely, within what I considered to be a very few days, I started to notice that I was finding it difficult to connect with the feeling of loss and sadness. I still miss his physical presence and probably always will, but it seemed easier to bear. In my imagination I would see him, or feel him, curled up in the armchair, or lying under the table, or watching me from the landing. It was if he hadn’t gone away. He was there, in all his old places, but in a lighter more peaceful way, without me connecting to the anxiety of making sure he was OK. It gives me a feeling of peace.
Noticing how I felt, realising that I could feel this way, in circumstances I had dreaded, has been very enlightening. I do believe that we don’t just die and disappear, that there is something more. That’s a personal belief that I have developed over the years, based on my own feelings and experiences, rather than from a religious or cultural position. It just makes sense to me.
However, until two weeks ago, I realised that I had still been scared of death and was living my life trying to avoid it. No more. Logan had taken me to the brink, made me look down into the precipice and then dragged me over the edge…and we flew!
He always could go faster or higher than I ever dared!
Come to the Edge
I can't pretend it doesn't still hurt, but the experience has helped me to a new understanding of myself. It reminded me of a poem by Christopher Logue. His words led me to create my own picture of this event in my life. Hounds helping me connect to a deeper level of understanding of myself.