I want to share my experience through this Hell so far, and keep sharing, in case it resonates with even one person and helps them feel less alone and more hopeful.
It's only been 1.5 weeks since I had to say goodbye to my beautiful girl, but already, I am learning so much about my grief. Firstly, I've suffered enough losses in my life that I thought that I was "ready" to handle this one, that I knew what to expect. I was wrong. This one was far different for me from all the others. It was akin to losing a child, and it hurt far deeper than I ever thought that it would. It took me by surprise and completely knocked me on my ass.
For me, this grief was like falling into a hole. It's cold, dark, scary and lonely. It isolates you, and that's how all the negativity takes over. All sorts of horrible thoughts start running through your head: "I'm responsible", "I KILLED my best friend", "I didn't do enough", "I am a horrible human being", "I am a complete failure". Grief thrives on that dark hole. I allowed all my fear, all my doubts, all my regrets and every ounce of guilt that I as carrying to completely consume me.
And then I realized something. None of those thoughts are actually true. Not a single one. The reality is that I was a GOOD pet owner, a great "mom" to my amazing girl. Did I make mistakes along the way? Absolutely. Does that undo all the things I did right? Absolutely not. We forgive our pets when they pee on the floor, or chew our favourite shoes. We forgive them when they bark/meow like little lunatics or get into the garbage. So why don't we forgive ourselves for not being perfect? We dwell on all of the negative, forget the positive and blame ourselves for them not being here anymore. The reality is that nothing and no one gets to live forever, and we rarely get to choose how we exit this world. Things just... happen.
And so, I realized that I had two choices: look down and continue to dig deeper and deeper into my cold, dark, lonely hole of grief, or I could look UP towards the sunshine and realize that there is life beyond loss. I had to make the decision to start climbing my way out. I had to make the choice to forgive myself.
You need to do that, too. Forgive yourself for whatever you've done wrong. Shut down the voices that are spewing darkness and hate, and start climbing UP. Sure, it may be tough and you might slide back down a few times, but you should never stop trying. If you can't do it for yourself right now, do it for that furry angel that you KNOW would never want to see you hurting like this. They loved you unconditionally. Honour that love by seeing in yourself what they saw in you.