You are currently viewing Grief


16 October 2020

Tuesday night has since come and gone, but while it was here it sure smacked my heart hard. My friend’s daughter came banging on my door – their sweet pup was unresponsive & would I please come help.

Thank goodness instinct remains intact & that skills learned and honed over many years come back into play.

CPR commenced, with assistance for the mouth-to-snout breaths.

4 rounds.

Felt a rib break. 

I knew she was gone after the 1st round.

Had to give it the full 2 minutes.

This sweet girl gained her wings surrounded by her loving and weeping family.

The questions…

What happened? Did she suffer? Why did this happen? How do you do this all the time?

My responses…

I’m fairly certain she threw a clot. No, it happened so quickly, she wasn’t in pain. Cancer makes the body do unexpected things & we may not know the exact reason. I consider it an honor to hold their paw, place an IVC or simply to be there so no one grieves alone.

When all was said and done, I came back home. I threw my stethoscope in disgust. If I had gotten there sooner. If I pushed harder…and my brain gets it that these what ifs wouldn’t have changed the outcome. My heart, however, does not.

How do we as veterinary professionals do this all the time?  Most of the time we try to remove our feelings and set them aside so we can help bear others. Sometimes we don’t and we cry alongside because that’s what’s needed. We recognize that we give our furry family members the grace to go.  And to be a part of that passing, while emotionally painful, is something that when it’s peaceful, it’s an incredibly emotional and yet honorable experience.

But it’s harder now.

COVID took away our hand holding & tissue giving. We place euthanasia cocktails in syringe pumps and perform this service removed and at a distance. Or conversely we’re doing all we can when there’s no time to get anywhere and it’s not enough.  All we can do is close their eyes, wrap them in their blanket & make as many paw prints as we can mixed with our tears. Behind our masks. Our hearts breaking.

I’ll be ok tomorrow.

I’ll be there whenever any friend or family member needs me.

I’ll make the calls when others can’t even hold the phone.

Then I’ll shed my tears.

Crumble a bit.

Lean on my people.

Then pick up the pieces and carry on.

This was my most recent encounter with grief, but it certainly wasn’t the first for me from these past interminable months.  My goodness though do I wish it was the last.  There has been too much for all of us, and more for so many others.  Life is so, so heavy at times.  It’s been dark.  Despair oozes its way in more than any of us would like.  At times it feels like there’s no end in sight. Hope?  It’s a glimmer in the distance.

So go after it. 

Swim up, out of the ooze. 

Head towards & into the light. 

Allow the tears to fall. 

Embrace each other & hold one another up. 

Get mad – but do it righteously. 

Don’t deny the existence of grief, it’ll only grip you harder if you do.

Accept that this, whatever the ‘this’ is, will not be something to get over, but to get ON with. 

For only when we experience each and every emotion do we become enlightened.  We cannot know good without bad, and lightness without the dark loses its meaning.  Feel it. All of it. All the while knowing that no matter what that looks like, you are not alone.

We love hearing from you! Keep in touch so we can Inspire, Instruct, Impact - Together!