Losing my 4 yr old to grief (and getting him back again).

Recently I’ve written on my Facebook and Instagram about my little boy’s struggles to come to terms with the loss of our dog Monty.

We said goodbye to him at the end of January, well, my husband and I did but the children didn’t realise when they went off to school and nursery that that would be the last time they would see him, although I had made sure that they had had a really good cuddle with him that morning and had been making lots of videos of them together though, but I knew it would be too much for them to be present when it happened.

It wasn’t unexpected, we had had a terrifying moment the day after Boxing Day when we had returned home to find him falling down and walking into walls. Fearing the worst, we said a very very emotional, hurried goodbye and I rushed him to the vet. Only for him to get a brief reprieve, it was a treatable ear infection.

In a way a part of me wishes that that had been the end of it, we had almost come to terms with losing him and knew in our heart of hearts that life was a struggle for him. As it was, he carried on for another month, all of us desperate to find a miracle solution but none being forthcoming.

Finally my husband and I made the decision to let the vet help him to go. The appointment was all booked, but then he suddenly improved greatly. So we cancelled. But then he went downhill again. It was such a tense, emotional time for us all, and so we made the decision again and stuck to it. Right up until the very moment the vet knocked on the door we were wondering if we were making a mistake.

But we knew deep down what we needed to do. On the 27th January 2017, we said goodbye to our beloved boy, at home in his basket, and my husband and I buried him in the garden. Then came the worst bit, telling the children. I couldn’t deal with it on my own so I took them straight out after school, waiting until we could both be there to break the news.

As predicted, there were tears, and wailing, but my son kept trying to ‘be strong’. I don’t know where it came from, everyone else was in tears and he knows it’s ok to cry when you feel you need to but he somehow took it upon himself to be fine with it all.

He clearly wasn’t though, and my gorgeous, smiley, happy, sweet boy suddenly morphed into a very very angry, violent person. He would scream at me and lash out. I would struggle to talk to him without him flying off the handle. Anything I asked him to do would be met with sullen resistance. although they told me he was a dream at nursery still.

For a while, we all got a little lost in our grief. It may sound silly if you’ve never had a dog but he was our first baby and everything was planned around him. Day trips were to dog friendly places, we fitted in walks every day, my son was especially close to him and would sit in his bed and talk to him every day. In the aftermath of his death, my daughter would break down every morning in the school line but he remained resolutely, stubbornly ‘fine’.

Gradually the tears started coming though. Tears of rage often, sometimes sadness, but either way he wouldn’t let me hold him and comfort him, pushing me away constantly. I was also struggling, I’d lost my sparkle. I guess in combination it was too much for him to deal with, a lost best friend, a down hearted Mum and a sister visibly unhappy plus Daddy taking on lots of overtime at work, a bit too much for a small boy to cope with.

I asked for some tips from my lovely followers and did a lot of research to see how I could help. Apparently losing a pet can be more upsetting for a child then losing a distant relative because the pet is so present in their every day. It makes sense. We bought a wonderful book recommended to me, and I started reading it to them. I am not religious but the children like to think of him in heaven and so Up in Heaven has really helped them both. I also got them to choose their favourite photos and we filled up the album my Mother In Law gave us about 10 years ago. We’ve bought beautiful flowers for his grave and we try and talk about him in a happy way.

6 weeks on and I suddenly got my little boy back. I have no idea what changed but he is sweet and loving again. When I ask him to do something, that raging scowl doesn’t cross his face anymore, he just says ok and does it. (Or says ok and gets distracted and wanders off, but that is back to normal! 😀 ) He has been incredibly affectionate and loving, full of smiles and giggles. It’s like a ray of particularly bright sun has come out from behind the clouds and it is such a relief.

I wanted to update you as I’ve had so many lovely messages and advice and kind words from people. It’s been a really tough time for a variety of reasons recently, I’ve been ill for about 9 days so that hasn’t helped, but hopefully now things can start returning to normal, seeing this smile again makes everything seem brighter.

Thanks for all your support, means an awful lot! L xx

20 Comments

  1. Well, it’s 2am and I’m crying after reading this. I’m so sorry again for your loss and I’m very happy that your kids are starting to do better with coping with their loss. #bigpinklink
    Heather Keet recently posted…When those you love are no longer quite themselves…My Profile

  2. Oh Louise this made me so tearful. Your poor poor boy. All of you have been through such a tough time it’s heartbreaking. I really am so sorry for your loss. We have three dogs so I know that love and bond that children and yourself have with a pet – I’m struggling to contemplate the future – it really is too much. I am so pleased that you have your boy back, I really am. Big hugs my lovely xx #BigPinkLink
    justsayingmum recently posted…The Tab That’s Open On My LaptopMy Profile

  3. What an emotional time for you all, it’s so hard losing a family member like this. I am so pleased that your little boy is feeling better now. Grief is one of those unpredictable emotional rollercoasters that is so different for everyone. #bigpinklink
    Anne recently posted…I Can Sing a RainbowMy Profile

  4. Oh god bless him, I am so sorry for your loss by the way. Our boy adores our dog and she is very old now and it frightens me how he will react.

  5. This is totally unlike me, but I had to hold back tears reading this. I’m pretty sure your first post about losing Monty did this to me too. I can totally understand now how the loss of a family pet could affect the kids as profoundly as this, but to be honest before you guys lost Monty I probably would have scoffed at the idea of this. Sending massive hugs to all of you. #bigpinklink
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  6. Pets are such a big part of our lives that they leave such a big hole when they’re gone. I am truly sorry for your loss and am glad things are looking a little brighter this week. Sending hugs and tea. #bigpinklink
    Tubbs recently posted…If I Had a Book Deal …My Profile

  7. Oh how sad. I can well imagine the heartbreak he went through, I struggled to say goodbye to my mums cat at 26…
    so glad he’s dealing with it better xxx
    Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink
    Mmt recently posted…No Mum left behindMy Profile

  8. Oh how sad. I can well imagine the heartbreak he went through, I struggled to say goodbye to my mums cat at 26…
    so glad he’s dealing with it better xxx
    Thanks for hosting #bigpinklink
    Mmt recently posted…No Mum left behindMy Profile

  9. This made me so sad, it’s just devastating to see a child grieve and to feel completely helpless. I loved the photo at the end of him smiling, I’m so glad that there is light at the end of the tunnel, so much love to you. #bigpinklink
    five little doves recently posted…Introducing Celebrating Mothers weekMy Profile

  10. Your posts about Monty always bring tears to my eyes, it is clear to see just how loved he really was. Loosing a pet is so hard, our family dog died a couple of years ago and it really was heartbreaking. So glad to read you have your happy little boy back now and things are starting to get better.xx #bigpinklink
    Wendy recently posted…Baby update – Alex is 5 monthsMy Profile

  11. Oh bless him and your family. Love to you all, glad you are all slowly recovering and your gorgeous boy has his spark back x #bigpinklink
    Andrea @ Topsy Turvy Tribe recently posted…Embracing ChangesMy Profile

  12. It is such a hard hard time for all but I am so glad your little boy is processing it and recovering. I was a wreck the first time we lost our pet and so can’t imagine how kids deal with loss.
    Agent Spitback recently posted…8 Sure Fire Ways to Get Your Toddler To SleepMy Profile

  13. I’m so sorry for your loss. We got a puppy about a year ago, and I’ll confess that this is one of the reasons I was hesitant. Poor little guy #bigpinklink
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  14. Talk about a weepy! Our dog is three and I’m already dreading the end, the kids adore him and we couldn’t imagine life without him. I think they’d take it really hard if anything happened to him x

  15. I’m so pleased things are getting better for you all. It is so sad to have to say goodbye to the furry family members. 🙁
    #BigPinkLink
    Kirsty – Winnettes recently posted…Brookies – Brownies with Cookies – RecipeMy Profile

  16. I’ve been following your story Lou and was so heartbroken for you when you had to say goodbye to Monty. It must have been so hard for you all, but I’m so pleased that you have your little ray of sunshine back. Big hugs xx #bigpinklink

  17. Ahhh Lou. I’m so glad your little one has got his smile back. I haven’t had to suffer the loss of a pet, but 2 years ago we did lose my father-in-law and had a terrible time with our shocking lack of school place for my eldest daughter. It was a very stressed and upset household and whilst we tried to protect our kids, my eldest picked up on the vibes and really did suffer. She totally changed in character. Children need to talk and be included and can actually handle death much better than we give them credit for, so I think what you’re doing with the photos and talking about your memories of Monty are definitely the best medicine. #BigPinkLink xx
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  18. Oh my goodness this post choked me. I’ve never had a dog, grew up fearing them, spent most of my adulthood really not liking them or understanding why people have them and then 2 years ago bam, total u-turn and became obsessed with getting one! The kids are desperate for a dog and I really do understand how it is a total member of the family. But this…this heartbreak Lou…this is partly why I just can’t do it. SUCH a moving post, I hardly drew a full breath reading it from start to finish. Be strong lovely. You did all you could do xxx #bigpinklink
    absolutely prabulous recently posted…WHY MOST WOMEN ARE FORCED TO DO THAT AWFUL HANDBAG SMUGGLEMy Profile

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