Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pre-Grief



Is there such a thing as pre-grieving? At least in my case, definitely. This morning Jake tried to jump up on my bed, seemed interested in a squirrel that ran past as we walked, had a totally normal poop and ate his breakfast enthusiastically which means that all the worrying I did yesterday, and all the crying I did between the hours of 3:00 and 5:00 a.m. were a complete waste of time.

Unless there is such a thing as pre-grieving. Is there? Are days like yesterday my opportunity to start preparing for the loss of my dear dog? I did work out in my mind, for instance, exactly what I will say to the vet when that day arrives. Vets are trained to save lives, no matter what, and it's true that if Jake was five years old - or even ten - I would go ahead and let the vets do their thing - expensive tests and such - to try to save him. But Jake (somewhat like the new Aquarian Age) is beyond heroics. He's fourteen which makes him, in dog years, older than God. If he gets sick and doesn't bounce back, at this point, it will be my clue to help him cross over.

But that day is not today, even though I was so sure. Thank you to all of you who left your beautiful comments yesterday. I felt completely supported and encouraged. I'll turn to y'all again when Jake leaves this world, whether that's at the vet's office, or if he simply goes to sleep and doesn't wake up, like my friend Gordon, like that pilot who died mid-flight. If you're listening, God, could you nudge Jake in that direction? Thanks.

Happy Sunday and happy happy solstice - summer or winter, depending on where you are.

Onwards & upwards, oh yeah.

36 comments:

Barry said...

I'm relieved that Jake is improved. And hope he has many more squirrels to chase.

steven said...

hey reya, i do think that there's a process of preparation for dying, and i think there's a parallel process of preparing for someone's flying away. i think the good part of both those processes is being physically and emotionally prepared for the transition from this life to the next. but the really lovely part is the knowing that one part of that soul's work is done and that it can now bring all that goodness to bear in its next incarnation.
have a peaceful day. steven

Cynthia said...

Reya, so sorry to hear about your pre-grieving...which I agree is about preparation for loss. I think it makes the transition easier for us because we have time to accept. Our own Miss Nellie died this past week. I didn't write about it because I'm still processing. I accept that it was her time to go because she was unable to walk well, and couldn't eat/drink without a lot of patience. She loved coming in the house...and was the only dog I allowed inside. (She was the first stray we rescued about nine years ago.)I hope that your dear Jake recovers and enjoys the remainder of his life. <3

Andrea said...

I love the way dogs "bounce" back - good for Jake! I have to agree with Steven and Cynthia - pre-grieving is all about preparation for what's to inevitably come.

Happy summer to you - looks like we may get a few good, unsoggy days!

Lynne said...

I'm so glad that Jake is feeling better today.

I prepared myself in advance for my dog, Sailor's death when I knew his lymphoma was out of control. Yes, pre-grieving makes it easier to accept.

Just make every minute count. Do things he likes to do. Give him special treats to tempt his appetite.

Thinking of you both.

Joanne said...

How lucky that you have more walks together, contemplating D.C. and life in general. I'm glad Jake bounced back. Wishing him many more warm summer days.

JC said...

I wasn't on the net yesterday ... I didn't know that he'd had a bad day.

You'll know when it's the right time. It's hard esp. if they are still ok mentally but you will know.

Lindsey, my black lab, had bad hips. Sheh's been in a lot of pain the night before and my husband was up with her. In the morning he told me it was time. So, I took her first thing and it was the hardest thing I have ever done.

I came home and cryed like a baby all day.

I now have Bella and she's getting bad hips. I told my husband that I knew all too well what was coming. Til that day though, I will continue to help my old lady get up and down the stairs ...

Hugs to you at this time,

John Hayes said...

I do think there's something of that sort; one of the first ways a lot of us become attuned to immortality is thru family pets, & that sticks with us. We have two outdoor cats (Eberle is too allergic to have them indoors)-- they were both born as semi-wild cats & are really affectionate toward us but not to any other humans. Anyway, the point is the younger (a spayed female-- they're both "fixed") sometimes goes into the wild for days at a time & during those times I do wonder-- is this the time she won't come back? There are lots of predatory critters out there. Of course, if she makes it to the age of our older one, she'll probably be more content to loll on the porch. The main thing with any pet is carpe diem as much as possible.

Sorry to go on so long!

lakeviewer said...

Good to know Jake is feeling better. As Steven said in his comment, you are preparing for that eventual day coming up. We all have to do that.

debra said...

Grief is, I thin, a process rather than an event, and we deal with our losses---death is certainly one, loss of function, loss of what was and the loss of what will be---incrementally.
It seems to me that we deal with things in little pieces because to deal with the whole big piece would be too overwhelming. I experienced this with my parents' dying processes, too.

And our animals seem to know that we need time to cope---to prepare for their passing. Our lab, BD (Black Dog) knew. He had an aggressive type of cancer and he, just knew. And it was ok.

Mary Ellen said...

Reya, you are going through exactly what I am with my increasingly-frail dog Rufus (shepherd/collie), who is 15 and a bit. I'd almost given up on him in November (failing kidneys) when he started refusing the commercial kidney diet from the vet, having terrible diarrhea, and not drinking. I went through some grief at that point - but also hit the internet and found a very detailed home-cooked kidney diet, which I've adapted with pretty good success (for now). I can tell you more about it if your dog is battling kidney failure. However, time is still catching up to Rufus - increasingly stiff and weak, with something going on back in his sinus area that makes it hard to breathe (and smell). Good luck getting through this hard time, and may your dog have a peaceful close to his time with you.

Peaches said...

The crying was not a waste of time...it has cleared out some of the pain so you can have some sweet time with Jake. Kiss Jake often. Such soulful eyes he has.

Val said...

oh what a relief and yes i do think you are preparing yourself for grief and this is natural. but it mustnt interfere with the pleasure of the time you have left together xx

California Girl said...

It's painful to read about Jake and your suffering and your fear. I guess in a way, when he does go, you'll be prepared...somewhat. Going back to your previous post this week, "the Wounded Hero", I think dogs are pure,wonderful companions, loyal to a fault. There are no bad dogs, only bad owners!

I was happy to read he's feeling better today.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Good ole Jake. I'm so glad he's feeling better today. Animals are incredible the way they can bounce back. I know what you are going through as I've been there many times.
As for pre-grieving I believe it is a real thing. As far back as age 10 I have pre-grieved over my animals. One night I cried & cried about my first dog, Frisky... and the next day she left our world. I think we sense these things because we are attuned to our precious animals. Sometimes we are a bit premature in the grief, but sometimes we are right on target.
Good thoughts to you & Jake. As I write this Gertie is nestled behind me in the chair keeping me company & my back warm... she's got my back!
xxxooo

Lover of Life said...

I'm glad today is not the day. And yes, pre grieving helps us when the time comes, I think.

mum said...

the great thing with animals is they are totally into whatever it is they're experiencing - if Jake's enjoying his food or the sight of the squirrel, he's doing it completly, with no reference to how he felt yesterday.

We're not so lucky - but then, animals don't get to take gorgeous photos like the composition at the bottom of this post. So...

Enjoy the good times as much as you can, Reya.

best to you both.

Rain said...

Hi Reya! Yes, there is such a thing as pre-grieving! I did that when I found out my Winston has progressive kidney failure. My two guys are both 14 this year too, and I agree with you. I moved heaven and earth, and lots of funds around, to keep them safe and healthy their whole lives. But now, they are nearing the last stage and they've lived better lives than most humans on this earth. I think that it wasn't a waste of time for you to pre-grieve because it gives you even more perspective and strength for when that day comes. I'm just so happy to hear that he's feeling frisky today!

Sandra Leigh said...

Such good news, Reya - I'm glad you have more time to enjoy Jake.

Madtexter said...

So sorry to hear about Jake. I hope he can hang on for a while. We lost our 17 year old dachshund, Alexei, last September. I still think he's gonna come trotting around the corner sometimes.

Oh, and if you've ever wanted a great painting of your pets, try this website: www.paintyourlife.com

I sent a picture of Al to them, and they really captured his personality in painting.

Hugs and sloppy wet kisses to Jake.

Verily I go. said...

Thank you Reya. I've cried with you too and it is never a waste. Happy Solstice, indeed. Kisses for your puppy. And you too.

Dani said...

I'm glad he is doing better today. And don't ever think you're tears are a waste. It's my opinion that there is not such a thing pre-grief, but rather Grief itself. It is grief, but it may feel different because what you are expecting/dreading hasn't yet come to pass.

I don't know which is worse- having to put your dog down unexpectedly and not being able to say goodbye (which was the case with my golden), or watching them slowly go? As long as he isn't suffering... Take care.

Bee said...

Reya - Oh, I definitely think there is pre-grieving. Doesn't it seem like people who nurse loved ones through long illnesses do their hardest grieving before the death? In those cases, death can "almost" be a relief. I'm not sure if it is quite the same with a beloved animal . . . but unfortunately we have no choice but to learn and accept the lesson of "letting go."

Still, I can't help but hope that you and Jake still have many happy days together!

Alaine said...

Yay! He bounced back!

Love the collage you've made.

Ronda Laveen said...

All thy crying you did between 3-5 was not wasted time.Yes, I believe in pre-grief as a process of the healing. He will leave this plane, it's just a matter of time and you are starting your goodbyes now. Nothing wrong with that.

When my last group of dogs were aging, and Jennifer turned 14 and was having bouts of ups and downs, we started preparing for here crossing. We didn't leave her much or go out of town becaue we just new she would sail and we would miss they voyage. We had 3 more pretty good years before THE DAY came. You just never know and, often, I wish I could be like animals and not have that part of the brain that worries about mortality. It seems the Solstice energy has uplifted you both. Turn that wheel and ride the spiral upward, sister. Please give Jake and extra special doggie-ssage for me tonight.

Ronda Laveen said...

Should read "an" extra special...

Reya Mellicker said...

This round of comments is so compassionate, wise and helpful - all I can say is WOW. There's so much thoughtfulness here. I'm so grateful for all these incredible contemplations of mortality and the process of grieving.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH.

Wow.

Meri said...

There's anticipatory grief for sure, but it still doesn't lessen the real thing. You may think you're prepared, but reality has its own electrical charge.

globaltoll said...

Glad Jake had a good day. Thinking of you and Jake. Also, yesterday's photo of the face looked like my ultrasound photo of Abby and today's photo of the water on the manhole looks like Darth Vader to me.

Susan said...

When it was time to have Edward put down, I experienced such pre-grief. The night before, he licked the tears from my face as if to say, "It's okay."

The companionship we experience is like nothing else - I think because it is so unconditional. (Well, except with my cats when there is tuna involved...)

I pray that you will have a friend or friends to support you during this pre-grief, and if God doesn't answer your prayer to take Jake while he sleeps - to go with you.

Barbara Martin said...

Sometimes older dogs go off their food for seemingly no reason.

I have been with many dogs over the years whose time came in their 'old years' of 14 or more. You must remember all the good times you had together, and, most importantly while they are still with you do not become too emotional. They have a sixth sense that picks up immediately, and they do understand what you're thinking.

You may have had a forewarning of something in the night, but it seems to have elapsed at Jake's exuberance in the morning. Take each day as something special between the two of you, and enjoy those days.

karen said...

Oh! Just caught up on your post of yesterday, and today.. so glad to see that Jake feels better again. I have done my fair share of pet heartbreak, and I know what you are going through. Hugs from Africa x

Natalie said...

Sending a hug for you, and for Jake. Hope you both are o.k.today.xx♥

Celestite said...

Pregrieving is a gift. He will not leave in an unexpected way, but your days together are coming to an end.
Enjoy each one that's left, Jake will.

Poetikat said...

Hi Reya, I absolutely believe there is such a thing as pre-grieving. We have nearly lost our beloved cat Gilbert to urinary and bowel blockages a number of times (but we've always pulled him through). I know one day it will be the last time and he won't make it. I always think in terms of what if we wake up and he's downstairs (he won't come on the bed if he's feeling ill) and he's gone? I try to pre-grieve, just to make the actual event a little more bearable. I'll say a prayer that the final transition for both of you is not a devastating one.

Kat

mouse (aka kimy) said...

hugs to you and jake....

pre-grieving - definitely a stage but maybe one unexplored in the literature

more hugs