Unbearable Grief

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Unbearable Grief

Post by DarlaVera on Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:08 pm

First of all, I am so grateful for finding this forum. In spite of tremendous support, I have felt "empty" and "gutted" (as so aptly described by Terry Oh) since the recent loss of my significant other. Here is my story:

Nearly four years ago, my teenage son was going through a state of depression. For Christmas, he asked for a dog and we began the search for a rescue dog (both for him and the dog). Our journey eventually led to the Humane Society and Vera, a 3-month old Australian Cattle Dog/Shepherd. She was one of eight siblings transported across the country as part of the transfer program between Humane Society organizations. She was the shy one, friendly but afraid. Our hearts went out to her and we adopted her.

Vera performed her miracle, giving my son meaning and purpose, and then proceeded to work on me. Over the next few years, Vera gave meaning and purpose to MY life that I hadn't realized I needed. As my children "left the nest" and my "romantic" relationship faltered, Vera became my partner. Her love was unconditional, innocent, demanding little and giving much. I thrived in her company; I happily devoted my life to her. When my son graduated and moved on, he couldn't take Vera away from me. She became my baby.

And then came August 11th. Vera hadn't eaten in two days. I brought her to the vet, fearing the Lyme disease that she'd suffered two years prior had returned. Her lymphnode was swollen and the vet took an aspirate "just in case". On the 14th, it was confirmed she had lymphoma. She was two months short of four years old.

I brought Vera to an oncologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary School (pioneers in cancer therapy). Through a miracle of generosity, a GoFundMe account started by my daughter raised $12,500 toward Vera's care. And the journey began. Unfortunately, this cancer was "ridiculously aggressive" (as described by an oncologist who sees cancer every day). On October 9th, I had to make the choice to end her suffering and begin mine. I signed the papers, I told her of my love, I rubbed her back, and I watched as they set her free. My life has been an unbearable nightmare ever since.

Strange, but I find "comfort" in the shared experience of others. I have found no meaning left in my life and resent the everyday activities of daily living that require my attention. I work in others' homes and cannot keep myself from uncontrollable crying as I drive from home to home. My family, my friends, and even my clients have been amazingly supportive and yet I cannot find comfort. And I see these feelings reflected in you.

I honestly do not feel I can bear this; I have no hope and no will to move on. Yet I am tethered to this suffering because I have children and grandchildren who I cannot cause to suffer. I am a form of Prometheus. My only hope is the testimonies of you who have felt likewise...and endured. Although I have only thus far read recent posts, my plan is to revisit when time allows and find the testimonies that will wake me from this nightmare. Thank you for being here.

DarlaVera

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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by Nala's daddy on Fri Oct 13, 2017 1:40 pm

Hi Darla. I am so sorry for your lost. I just recently lost my precious girl too. I wish I had comfort words for you, but the true is that I feel as lost as you are right now. I never thought that I could love a dog as much as my wife and I did. I am sorry that you Vera was suffering at the end, but I envy you that you were able to said good bye. If I knew that the last time that I saw Nala was going to be the last one, I would never have let her go and tell her how much I love her. I kind only tell you that you have a kindred spirit in my wife and me and hope that, as many people had say to me, time would heal our wounds.

Paul.

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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by DarlaVera on Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:20 pm

Thank you, Paul, for reaching out. Your story .... like all of the stories ... is desperately sad. I am grateful for being able to say good-bye, although that moment ... that movie ... has played repeatedly in my mind this week, tormenting my soul and consuming my joy. Like you, if I had known she would be imprisoned in that tank when I had admitted her to the hospital, I would have had her set free in the comfort of her home, not a CCU ward. I had to crawl into the tank with her, amidst the tubes and the catheters. It was awful.

I opted NOT to continue chemotherapy because it would have required her to remain separated from me in an oxygen chamber with the possibility of dying in my absence .... an unbearable thought. Her cancer had already resisted the CHOP protocal, and three what they call "rescue" protocals; it was never going to be a complete remission, just more time to ... suffer. But you and your wife are living what I dreaded. My heart and prayers go out to you. Please forgive yourself and your doctors, it will not bring your sweet Nala back and will serve no good. I do have a quotation to share but have to check the rules of the forum before posting it. I found it comforting at this time. Will let you know if I post!

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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by Nala's daddy on Fri Oct 13, 2017 4:50 pm

Hello Darla.

Thanks for reaching out. Like you, I also find some comfort and solace been active in the forum. Only here I have found people expresing the same kind of pain and heartbreaking feeling that me and my wife are having. It is almost upsetting, even thou I know they mean well, when when my family and friends try to comfort me using words like "Time", "In the future" or anything that reselve those those words because it make it sounds like they are already discading her. What I want is for her to be acknowlegde and recognized as the wonderful creature she was and that she cannot be replace.

Thanks for your words regarding the blame game, everyone, even my wife, have told me the same. We opted for the surgery because it was the best for her, but I can not stop second guessing me because if I took the right decision, why the outcome was so awful?. The logic part in me see the reason, but at some subconscious I will always wonder what should have been done correctly.

Vera sounded like a wonderful dog, I am sorry that you only had her for four years. Nala was a Yorkie, I don't think I mention it. She was small, she slept between me and my wife. She had a noble soul, I doub that I ever hear her growl. She was such a good girl. Some times I think that if I had have Nala for more years I would feel better, but reading the posts of others I realize that no matter how much time we had together, it would not have been enough.

If you need to speak to someone about Vera, feel free to replay in either my post or yours.

Paul.

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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by DarlaVera on Sat Oct 14, 2017 12:25 am

Hi Paul,

I think that second-guessing oneself when the end result brings pain is probably normal.  But did you really have a choice?  If Nala had not had the surgery, might the result have been the same?  Do you really know?

I am by nature a holistic person.  When Vera was diagnosed with lymphoma, she was already at Stage 4b.  She hadn't eaten for two days and the disease was confirmed on a Friday evening.  I desperately tried to get her to eat over the weekend, but on Sunday, ditched my holistic tendencies and headed for UW-Madison because their oncology department is respected and I was so ignorant regarding canine cancer.  I was scared.  It began an eight-week journey. I couldn't learn enough fast enough and I put my trust in a system I didn't wholeheartedly believe in.... a system that embraces very little holistic treatments.  I was hoping to support conventional Western medicine with holistic Eastern but had to learn so much so quickly because her T-cell lymphoma was so tragically aggressive.  By the time I got beyond "cancer" diets (ineffective for us because she wouldn't eat them), and learned of other options (ozone therapy, hyperbarics), it was too late.  There isn't a day that goes by that I haven't second-guessed myself.  But as you know, it'll eat you alive with guilt.  

We have to accept our choices, Paul, knowing that we did what we thought was best.  God knows that we loved our little girls and our little girls knew that we loved them, as we knew they loved us.  And we have to believe....as in the poem I posted... that we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet our loved ones again. Be kind to yourselves; don't judge yourselves too harshly. It is not an easy thing to make decisions about things you know little about, must trust others who should know more, and time is not on your side. You did the best you could, as did I. I share your pain.

Darla

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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by Nala's daddy on Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:20 pm

Hello Darla.

Thanks for the poem, I found it really comforting. Regarding my decision, there is a chance that later on she might have suffer more because of the hernia, but the fact that I will never know and that will haunt me for a while. Should I just left her be? Should I had look for a second opinion? I know that I will never know the answer, but it is really upsetting that I was supposedly taking the "correct" decision but I did not get the correct outcome.

I have been reading a lot of web pages that talk about losing a pet and how to cope with it. Those pages help me a bit, I will leave the links below if you want to check them.

I think at this point, we just to kept grieving at our pace and hope that someday when we think about our girls we will laugh instead of cry.

Regards,
Paul.

NOTE: I tried to leave you the links but I got a message "New members are not allowed to post external links or emails for 7 days. Please contact the forum administrator for more information."

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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by DarlaVera on Sat Oct 14, 2017 8:36 pm

Hi Paul,

I'm sorry that you are struggling with guilt; I share that, too. We have no choice but to live with our decisions ... not an easy task. I appreciate your attempt to share the links. Hopefully in seven days we'll be free to share those sites. I, too, have been surfing for comfort.

I chose to have Vera cremated and the crematorium offered a memorial service. So next Tuesday, my family and I will see her one last time. I have very mixed feelings about this and anxiety is high. But the last time I saw her she had catheters and tubes and was in an "incubator" looking thing; it can't be worse than that, can it?

I've kept myself busy planning the memorial (poems, pictures, etc). I won't be able to bring her ashes home until the following weekend and I'll likely have another memorial at home for those who weren't able to make the Tuesday journey. After that I plan to print all of the pictures we have of her and create a scrap album. I just can't stop being "with" her. I can't stop talking about her. (Fortunately, my family understands.)

Tomorrow my once-a-month shift for volunteering at the no-kill shelter is scheduled. Initially I wanted to cancel but then reconsidered and my daughter/granddaughter are joining me. Maybe I'll see Vera.

I've mentioned our girls to my family and my daughter suggested that maybe Vera and Nala have found each other to play with. Nice thought.

My heart continues to go out to you and your wife. You're in my thoughts and my prayers. Be well.

Darla


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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by Nala's daddy on Mon Oct 16, 2017 4:25 pm

Hello Darla.

How you been? I hope that you are feeling better. I am bit a better, but still feel lost and upset with everything. I have been turning to God lately, that have help and confuse me at the same time. I am glad that you are going to have a service for Vera. We had Nala cremated the same day she passed, and we found a priest that said a few words for her and for us. It helped us a lot.

I went to church this Sunday, and the father spoke about been to focus on anger instead of forgiveness. I felt those words were addressed to me. Maybe I should start to forgive the vet and myself.

Let me know how the service for Vera go.

Regards and best wishes,
Paul.

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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by DarlaVera on Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:09 pm

Hi Paul,

I empathize completely with the confusion/comfort that turning to God can bring. I had a relationship with God prior to Vera's cancer, but this became even more poignant for me during the ordeal. It strengthened me often. However, now that she has passed I find it extremely difficult to turn to Him. The words that comforted me now tear me apart.

The morning of Vera's service, and onward through the day until "the time" arrived, were very difficult for me. I was filled with anxiety and seriously felt I might have a breakdown. The moments before the viewing were extremely overwhelming. When I saw her, I was initially unsettled by the appearance of my beloved lying there. Her jaw was more slack than typical, the cancer-shaved areas of her body stood out more, and she was so still. But I mustered the courage to touch her and then melted into the experience of getting to pet her one last time. It was bitter/sweet. On Saturday morning I will return there and pick up her ashes. Finally, her little body will be home. I don't think I'll feel peace until then.

I did have an uplifting moment this weekend. I volunteer once monthly at the local no-kill shelter and because I opted out last month, felt obligated to go last Sunday. My daughter and granddaughter came with me for emotional support. The very first dog I met was named Betty. She was a German Shepherd but had a white speckled nose just like Vera. She came up to me and looked into my eyes with the same soulful look as Vera and throughout the shift I was taken aback by how much her personality reminded me of my girl. It was like spending time with my pup. I felt okay for the first time since her passing. Tonight I stopped by the shelter to visit Betty again. I needed a Vera fix even though I know she is not Vera.

I, too, am a bit better, though still lost and upset with everything. I miss Vera so deeply. I don't want my life to change and to have to adapt to a new normal; I want my "old" normal. I want my girl.

I hope that you will keep in touch but, if not, I understand. It seems that for many this forum is a brief step in the grieving process. So I want you to know how I've appreciated corresponding with you. I wish you and your wife all the best in your healing.

Kindred spirit,

Darla

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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by Nala's daddy on Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:42 pm

Hello Darla.

I am glad to see that you are doing better. My wife and me are having good and bad days. We have spoke with friends that have suffer the loss of a beloved pet, and it take time, months at least.
I also found out that spending time with other dogs help. We have a park near and we go for a walk and interact with other dogs. That have been helpful as well.

My wife and me spoke about adopting another dog in the future, maybe a dog from a shelter instead of buying one, but I would love to have another yorkie just like Nala, but I dont know if that is a good idea, because no dog is going to be Nala.

I hope to earn from you. Regards.

Paul.

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Re: Unbearable Grief

Post by DarlaVera on Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:46 pm

We seem to be walking a parallel path. I have been a volunteer at an area no-kill shelter on a monthly basis since March. I backed out going in September so that I could be with Vera; so when my "turn" came this time around, I felt obligated to go. I anguished over the potential pain this would cause and to my surprise it was a turning point. There was a dog there who reminded me so much of Vera. I felt consolation. And even though that dog has gone to a new home, I felt she had a message of hope for me. Maybe I can love another dog again, not in the same way as I loved Vera, but in a unique and special way. Just being around the shelter dogs made me feel alive again. I'm happy that you have found the same at the park. I do feel some guilt over this, although I'm sure it would not be what Vera would want. She would not want me sad (it bothered her when I cried) and she would not want me alone (she hated being alone). I'll know when it's the right time and the right dog. I knew when I found Vera.

Not a day has gone past that I haven't cried in despair, missing my little girl. I've stared at her pictures, carried around her collar, refused to wash her blanket (which I sleep with every night), and lots of other "silly" ways to keep her near me. And that's okay.
I've also joined a lymphoma support group on FB so that I could help others, and became a monthly supporter of the Morris Animal Foundation in Vera's name. Her life ... and her death ... will have meaning and purpose.

I do appreciate your posts. Thanks for taking the time to respond!
Wishing you and your wife all the best.

Darla

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