Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Death and Dieing: Upon Losing a Pet

Our wheaton terrier died last week. It was not unexpected. He was old and sick for a long time, but seemed to enjoy life until recently. Two weeks ago he had an episode. We think he had what would be the equivalent of a stroke. Hubby found him in the morning. We immediately helped him. Bathed him. Took him to the vet. But he was never the same. It was time.

CM2 had texted me a few weeks earlier that he started to cry on the bus gong to school because he knew that the wheaton was getting old and would die soon. I told him that it was gong to be alright. That at the time the dog was happy. He would still look out from the fence, survey his neighborhood and bark at detractors.

Hubby told CM2 the sad news of what happened on the fateful day of the wheaton's passing. He told him quietly when he came home from school. There was no meltdown. No anger. Nothing that passed for normal CM2 behavior when confronted with a reality he doesn't like. In truth, CM2 had seen this coming. Honestly I had also been hinting at the reality since we realized things were at an end. So CM2 was subconsciously prepped in a way. In fact during one of our offhanded discussions CM2 mentioned to me that since he had to take care of the wheaton over the summer, while my ankle was broken, he was the first one who identified that the time was coming. So we thought OK, maybe he will handle this a little better than we had surmised.

Yeah, not so much...

Yesterday when I picked him up from school, the para informed me that despite the positive texts from the day, CM2 had refused to do the work required for a class. It was a class he enjoyed and is doing well in. So I knew that there had to be an underlying reason. (And yes I had prepared the para to watch out for CM2 for this week and the weeks to come for a delayed reaction.)

CM2 said he just felt really anxious. That his anxiety had ratcheted itself up and that he felt overwhelmed. That the assignment for the class was too much for him. He was suppose to try to write in another person's voice, which in and of itself is hard to begin with. CM2 may not even have understood why he felt the way he did. He has had an amazing semester. He likes his classes and is excelling in them all. So the idea that he wouldn't even try this assignment, and do the best he can, was not how things were shaking out these past months.

There is no question that it is all related to the passing of the wheaton. Life gives anyone alot to handle. When there are the little everyday things to think about, and that you are used to, it is no problem to handle some minor out-of-the-ordinary-happening and go on with your daily routine. You march on. But when you are thrown that curveball (as MrGS likes to call it) it takes you out of your comfort zone and honestly manifests itself in many different ways. For CM2, it was feeling overwhelmed by an assignment that would merely have taken a little bit more energy, but his psychic energy was already working on processing the loss of his beloved pet. So there was nothing in reserve at that moment to give to anything that caused the slightest consternation.

Luckily the professor understood. There was no discussion of the dog or how CM2 was manifesting the loss. It was more a discussion of the anxiety the assignment caused. Not to worry...the professor told him, do what he can.  The professor mentioned that CM2 was doing well in the class so this one little hiccup would not hurt him.

I know I will have hubby try to get CM2 to complete the assignment, only because you need to learn to persevere in life. How that will work out, I am not certain, but we have to try to teach him that very important lesson.

Death is not easy to handle. Losing someone, or a beloved pet, that you adore leaves a hole in your heart. I have no magic answer how each family can help their child through loss. All I know is what I did for my own.

Meanwhile Mr GS was worried. He asked me if the vet made a mistake and could have buried the wheaton alive. I assured him that hubby and I were in the room when he died so we know when we left the vet he was no longer alive. The funny thing is that I was worried almost about the same thing. The following Monday I had to take the labradoodle for a checkup at the vet and asked a bunch of questions that I had been thinking about. I knew rationally that my pet had died in my arms, but my irrational mind was afraid that something else had happened to him. I supposed the boys aren't the only ones dealing with grief.

Who knew you could go through the stages of grief for a pet....

Meanwhile, I lit a mourner's candle and said kaddish for my first doggie baby the day he died. I know technically in Judaism you aren't supposed to do that for an animal, but my wheaton was a great love of mine, so God will just have accept it.