Last year Ezra and I had to say goodbye to our boy @hamishthestaffy - the hardest thing we have ever had to go through as a couple.
He was bitten by a snake in our backyard, and it wasn’t until 24 hours later we realised he had been bitten, and rushed him to the vet. They were quite surprised he had made it that long considering the usual effects of a snake bite, but the next morning we had to say our goodbye’s for good. By then venom had got into every muscle of his body, paralysing him to the point he couldn’t even blink or wag his tail any more.
It was heartbreaking to say the least - wishing we knew, wishing we could have saved him, wishing we could go back in time. He was our best friend and always there for us, and we felt like we had failed him. And for some of you, this may seem overdramatic, but for us - he made our life so full! So I wanted to write a post to celebrate our little guy, and say thank you to all our friends, family and strangers for all your love and support that has made getting through this all the more bearable.
For us, Hamish had just hit his prime! He wasn’t a little ratbag puppy any more (as cute as he was as a puppy), but he had really settled, and just loved doing life with us. Any time someone opened a car door he would jump in the front seat expecting to be chauffeured to the next destination. We could leave him for a full day at work and he was always just happy to see us come home. Every morning I would get up he would push the toilet door open to say hello, and then lay by my side in the study as I would do my devotion. Just the mention of ‘walk’ would get him all excited, and every time I would leave the house, he would be looking out the gate at me so I would say “Bye Hamish, love you”.
For anyone else who has had to say goodbye to their ‘fur baby’ you would understand how completely empty the house feels with them gone. Every room has memories of him, and it was a long journey to get to a place of having fond memories, rather than breaking down every time we thought of him. To be honest we avoided our house as much as possible the first 2 weeks because it was just too depressing to go home and not have him there.
BUT the reason i’m writing all this is because it’s been such a huge learning curve for Ezra and I on how we face grief. How we have gotten through this individually, and of course as a couple. It has definitely brought us closer, because I believe we have both been vulnerable and open enough to get emotional, share every thought, and not be judged in the process. For Ezra, it was allowing himself to be emotional in a safe space, and for me it was (with plenty of encouragement) not internalising everything. Ezra had to keep saying to me - Jo you can’t internalise, you need to let out everything you’re thinking because it’s not healthy to keep it all in. Whether they’re good thoughts or bad, it’s just such a release to speak it out and allow yourself to heal.
So for us, through the most crappy situation we have had to face - we learnt from it. We learnt how to support each other through grief, and we also learnt that we are surrounded by so many incredible friends and family who gave us so much love and support every step of the way. And for us it was our dog… but I often thought through my tears - I cannot imagine how people deal with having to lose a child or family member.
Whatever you’re going through, I just felt to write these things out for myself, but also for anyone else who may be going through a difficult time:
It’s ok to feel …. feel every emotion under the sun even if you feel stupid for feeling them!
Let it out … talk to someone about how you’re feeling, whether that’s a friend, family member or counsellor. It’s never healthy to keep it to yourself.
Give yourself time… but in that time, allow for process to take place where you deal with your emotions. Take healthy steps forwards and slowly learn to look back with gratefulness rather than sadness.
Be kind… to yourself and to others. Don’t ever hate on yourself for feeling every emotion under the sun. It’s also normal to be fine for a few days and then feel like you lose it all over again. Just be kind to yourself in the process, and try to remember to be kind to others. People can say some dumb things when someone is going through grief, but we had to learn their intentions are pure and they’re just trying to help, though it may come out completely wrong.
Finally, something Ezra and I found great comfort in was from a counsellor we went to see. He said grief isn’t something you get over, it’s something you pass through. You’ll never ‘get over’ someone dying like you don’t care any more, but you do get through it, and sometimes you have to get through it more than once, but don’t feel you ever have to ‘get over it’ - they’ll always be special to you!