My heart aches for you. I am so sorry.
Enduring loss and it's accompanied feeling of grief is the trade we make when sharing a deep connection of love with our companions. The trauma associated with loss is a cruel and unrelenting force. It's obsessively intrusive and seems to pollute every precious memory we have by reminding us of our pain. I promise, it gets easier. Manageable. You will find warmth again when thinking of your beautiful friend Max. His quirks and habits will not forever be shadowed by that horrible traumatic Friday. Those 30 minutes or even those weeks and months of restless worrying can never define twelve wonderful loving years.
Like you, I also struggled with the loss of my very best friend, who I grew up with. There's so much I wish I could change. All my thoughts revolved around regret and the awful imagery of his life leaving me. Seventeen years suddenly summed up in one horrific moment. For days it was like that. His death was pedestaled above all things. Every day I would find a new anguish and I would learn that my heart could be broken a little more. It was one week after being without him I realised that each time I did this, I was coming to terms. I noticed that along side the pain was this immense gratefulness. "I was there with him so he wasn't alone." I'd think. More thoughts bounced around amongst the horrible finality of it, "I ended his suffering", "I got to hold him one last time. I could feel his fur. The warmth of his body against mine." It would stretch further and further, to places where it was harder for grief to extend it's reach and sink it's claws into. Remembering our last amazing day together, feeding him turkey from my plate on thanksgiving while he licked his whiskered face. Looking up at me, expectantly waiting for my extended giving hand. Then to the time when he was just small enough that I could fit him into my housecoat pocket. These were leaps and lengths of time I could journey to. Although the sadness still firmly griped me... I was also enveloped with a strong assured happiness. So thankful that I could have Frinks in my life. For years, months, days and even minutes. That I got to love him and care for him to the very end means so much. Max and Frinks have gifted us such unique lessons and forms of love that have a depth only we are sure of. I believe when we love to our fullest, the pain we feel later is a reflection of it's intensity. Unfortunately as often as it is said, it is completely true: healing takes time. I've found that what has replaced that final painful day and although it is still part of our story...it is how I am so full of gratitude.
Here are some things that helped me: You might not want to eat but you must try as it can make a huge difference in your mood. It is also so important to verbalise your pain if you have a support system that will listen. This means sharing in tears and memories. For some, discussing details of your goodbye can bring some peace and understanding. Relying on those who knew Max and your relationship would be best suited to confide in, assuming they are emphatic and sensitive. I think making tiny changes to your daily routine can lend aid in avoiding triggers. You must take special care. Try to listen to yourself and prioritise your needs. Leaning into your grief is sometimes a necessity and can service you greatly as opposed to fighting it. Being at home can be very difficult because our loved little creatures were once constantly by our side. Movies, games, shows, music, books, podcasts, crafts are all great ways to busy one's mind... but sometimes distractions are usually best if you're being pulled away from your enviroment. Trips out of your home might provide a relief to you that staying at indoors wouldn't. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. The timing and process can vary from person to person. Be kind and patient with yourself.
Finally, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your story. I realise how hard it is to recite one of the hardest day of your life. It is very clear that Max was loved and cherished. He seems like a very special and handsome fellow. I swear I can see the smile on his face while he's sleeping there. The adoration is evident, the comfort is clear and the love is abundant. You've been very brave for him and you have gifted him peace. I know he would thank you if he could and be sure that he is being thought of and remembered by another Stephanie, over here in Canada Ontario. A thank you to both Max and Frinks for being our furry darlings and teaching us so much.
Let's both keep trying our best for our sweet boys. Stay strong. So much love sent to you and a warm November hug.