Friday, February 19, 2016

Saying goodbye to friends, big and small

There are so many things I want to write about today.

I've just come back from my first vacation in 7 years, taken with my new love to a place Kevin enjoyed. I could write about that, about the wonder and the sorrow that walked with me throughout.

I could write about the power of words, how we need to name things so they exist and how that can help us in our worst times. I could also write about their power to impede healing and what better alternatives might be.

I could even write about my developing theory around grief and healing, the steps I have taken (so far) to not drown in sorrow. Or I could write about what the second year feels like. Or...

I could write about any of that. But what I need to write about is this:

My pet Victor is dying. He's a little grey guinea pig, 8 years old, and he's on his way out of the world. By the time you read this he will likely be dead.

Some of you read this and had to remind yourselves not to laugh. A guinea pig? Really? Yup. A guinea pig. He's a sweet little creature who likes to have his head scratched and has been a great comfort to me.

Victor rode in his carrier next to me when I left Boston for Kansas City, leaping into a new life and many unknowns. He sat on my lap while I cried over Kevin's diagnosis and later death. He gave me something small and vulnerable to care for when I could barely care for myself. He squeaked when he heard my footsteps because he knew I was the bringer of treats and he let me pick him up when no one else could. He loved me as much as a guinea pig loves anyone. He may be a guinea pig but he has been a good pet, a good friend.

Others read this and immediately felt your hearts contract in sympathy. It's really hard when a pet dies, regardless of what it is. If we love it and it dies, it hurts.

And some of you reacted with more visceral grief than you might have when I told you my husband died. It's easier, sometimes, to feel sympathy for something dependent on us and with a less complex relationship than a human being.

I am not nor will I ever compare the loss of a pet to the loss of a spouse or other deeply held human relationship. It has not been helpful for me when people tell me they know how I feel, mourning Kevin's death, because their dog/cat/bird/etc died. Each grief is valid but not all griefs are the same. I know some of you are outraged at this. I know how important pets can be and for some of us they are life saving. I'm simply saying that one grief is not necessarily like the other.

With all that said, Victor's death is sad in and of itself, as well as triggering my grief in general. I have all of the physical feelings I had shortly after Kevin's death. My throat hurts, I feel almost panicky. I feel sad. I will miss him. He has been a good friend.

So that's what I wanted to tell you about today. Thanks for listening.

(c)2016 Laura S. Packer

p.s. This post couldn't have happened without my friend Joy and her dog Dobby. Thank you sweetheart! Creative Commons License

1 comment:

  1. It all hurts! I have found myself helpless and lost when I have lost pets, some more than others. I think it might be something to do with what you go through with these life companions, what has been shared. You went through a lot with Victor, and I am sorry he has died. Maybe he and Kevin are hanging together now, listening to great music, singing, squeaking, foot and paw tapping! Thanks for sharing.

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