I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of grieving for a lost pet lately. You may remember my entry back in March about the death of my dog, Elmo. Before this, my experience with the death of pets was limited to the (admittedly devastating) death of my rabbit when I was 11. I’d had the rabbit for two years and was pretty attached, but that was nothing compared to fourteen years with Elmo. For starters, Oreo, the rabbit, disliked me and every other person in the world, and Elmo was always so desperate for affection and approval.

I will admit that I barely knew how to begin dealing with that level of grief. Even knowing it was coming didn’t make it easier, and it seemed like some sort of nightmare I’d wake up from. I’d been having nightmares about my dog dying since I was a teenager and I guess I’d gotten used to waking up to find him at the foot of my bed. Since he’s been gone, though, the nightmares are different. I don’t spend the dream telling him he’s actually still alive, but rather trying to make him understand that he’s not. Notably, the other night, I dreamed he came out from under the table and I said, “No, Elmo, you died. You can’t be alive, you’ve made my blog a liar.”

The dream ended reasonably well, for a dream about a lost loved one. When I was attacked by a rat playing a banjo, Elmo protected me from it and it all ended happily, until I woke up and remembered that no, he really had died, and I hadn’t been there when he had.

I know this blog is supposed to be about ‘pawesome’ things, and maybe this doesn’t qualify, but I still thought it deserved a mention. I fully credit the fact that I focused so intently on finding a way to memorialize Elmo in the days following his death with the fact that I even was able to get out of bed. The kind, amazing people at paperedorb.com were nice enough to make me a gorgeous decorative orb in honour of Elmo, with pictures of the two of us, and I love it. It’s different, and beautiful, and unique, like he was, and I’ll definitely treasure it for ever.

Another thing that helped with the grief was being surrounded by people who understand. With Connie, who recently suffered the loss of her beloved Kaya, and the rest of the amazing people at Modern Dog, including Rose and Esther, our office dogs, I felt like the scope of my grief was normal. There were also many phone calls to friends who’d known him too, and they didn’t mind letting me go on and on about every little quirk and memory, and even shared a few of their own.

I guess I’m lucky that way. I think that’s pretty ‘pawesome’ too.

If you’ve got any tips or ideas on dealing with the loss of a beloved pet, please leave them in the comments.