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.
Dawwwww! Look at that face! 😇This baby has been really hard work lately. He’s not been the same since our doggy died and I’m running out of ideas to help him. The trouble is, we’re all sad. And the house feels different. He’s missing his partner in crime. His best buddy. I know time’s a healer and we will all be ok again one day but right now his regular explosions of rage coupled with my own low mood are quite hard to deal with. I’m just trying to get him to talk & cry as much as possible & I’m hoping I get to see more of this gorgeous smile & less of the scowl. Any tips for helping young children with grieving gratefully received. 💗 #pinklinker
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