Mental Health

Grieving for my dog

We said goodbye to our beloved Gizmo, and I really just want to talk about grieving for my dog, so nobody feels alone.

grieving for my dog
Image description: Gizmo’s urn which is a wooden box with gold paw prints, his red jumper, collar, paw print and a condolences card

We got Gizmo when he was 8 weeks old, and me and my now husband had been living together for six weeks. He was small and had been the smallest of a family of pedigree Shih Tzus that had been shown for generations at places like Crufts.

However, my baby would never know that life, his legs turned out, he was too small and so he was last to be chosen. Most people in that world are looking for perfection, but I just wanted a pet to love and be with.

It is lucky really as Gizmo hated to be alone, he was my constant companion, rarely leaving my side in all sixteen years of his life. He was the perfect friend for a woman with chronic illnesses who rarely leaves the house, and I am so glad he was my baby.

I know everyone thinks they have the best dog, but that is because we get the dog we are meant to have, and he was born to be mine. He was so cute, and really chill his energy was enough to get me up and moving, without being too much. But also, he absolutely loved days spent in bed cuddling and resting when I needed it and that is what made those days bearable.

My life just feels like it is missing something now he is gone, it was just over a week ago he died, and I still expect him to be there. It will take time for my head to catch up to the fact he is gone I think, but that is part of the grieving process.

It was fast, he had developed a bladder stone, they think, that was blocking him being able to wee. In order for them to be able to investigate, or deal with the blockage he would have needed an operation and that would have been too much for him.

He was sixteen, and as one of the breeds with no snoot, being put under anaesthetic can be dangerous anyway, but especially at his age. Gizmo passed away in my arms, his dad stroking his head and it took moments something I am very thankful for.

We got his ashes back yesterday and I have placed them on my ancestor altar though I might create one just for him. He deserves something special as he was such a big part of my life and I want to do something I am just not sure what as yet.

Grieving for my dog has honestly been harder than anything, I feel so much pain at just the thought of Gizmo. I know in time this will ease and I once again will smile and enjoy those moments and memories of him.

So, let’s talk about some things that are helping me to cope right now:

Grieving for my dog:

  • Mindfulness – you knew it was coming so let’s get this one out the way! Mindfulness is basically being present, and this is important especially if you have mental health issues like I do. It can be so easy for our thoughts to run away into dark places, staying in the moment and feeling what is happening is not easy however it is the healthiest way to grieve. If I am not being mindful, I can easily get lost in disassociation, memories and dark thoughts that will do nothing to help. So, I am taking my time and feeling everything, I am going through no matter how much I want to run away.
  • Don’t blame – This is always the first thing to come to mind, did I do this right, should they have done that… these thoughts are normal. But playing a blame game is just our minds way of finding somewhere to focus the anger that comes with grief. No matter what happened to your pet, let it go and instead concentrate on taking care of yourself and those around you.
  • Self care – this is so important! As we struggle with emotions it can be easy to not eat, or eat too much, to not sleep, or sleep too much or even to stop taking care of our hygiene. Grief hits us hard, but eating, drinking, cleaning our teeth and washing are the basics that can be so helpful to do if possible. I find myself often wanting to skip food or not bother washing my face, but for me that is the start of a slippery slope. So, I hope you will prioritise the basics I know it is hard, but you need to be extra kind to yourself when you are dealing with so much pain.
  • Keep busy – Now, busy looks different for everyone, right now I am working on a jigsaw, I also spent a couple of hours colouring yesterday. I have been watching TV shows and doing puzzles on my iPad, things that will keep my brain and body busy while not being anything too much. Everything feels like it can be hard right now, so do some nice hobbies like crochet or something nice to keep your thoughts on a task.
  • Good memories – I love talking about my baby, and I have a million memories and moments that I am loving coming to mind. Thinking about the good times is important to do, I know it hurts but it can be so important so that you can laugh about their silly run or favourite toy. I am also considering making a jar or book we can write random memories in as they come to us.
  • Speak up – if the process of grieving becomes too much, reach out to someone, a friend or relative because everyone needs help sometimes. There might be bereavement groups in your area or speak to your doctor as short-term medications are available. There are also organisations online like Blue Cross here in the UK that have helplines for people struggling with grieving for their pet.

I know if you are going through this that you are probably struggling and wishing the pain could be over with. But your pet loved you, just like I know Gizmo loved me and they would never want you to rush or push away the pain in a way that was not going to be healthy for you.

Also, I know so many of you loved Gizmo and watching him on my YouTube channel, I hope you are okay and not struggling right now. Grieving for my dog is hard, but he was the best boy and he loved being the centre of attention he would want us all to smile when we think of him.

Thank you xx

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  • Stefani

    So very well expressed, Beverley.

    Properly grieving for a pet can feel overwhelming at times, but I’m glad we don’t live in the bad old days anymore, when people would tell you “it’s just a such and such, don’t make such a fuss.” Fortunately, we can find solace in the community of people who understand what we’re going through.

    I sure am going to miss your little Gizmo keeping you company in your videos.

    • Flowersstorms

      I’m so glad you’ve felt able to express how you’re feeling in words, Beverley, and I really hope your heart is now feeling a little bit lighter. Thank you so much for sharing such an adorable little fella with us over the years through your You Tube videos xx

      • admin

        I am finding it easier in a way, but I have so many moments when I reach for him or think I need to hurry to get back to him and then remember which is hard. But I know it just takes time xx

  • Lindsay

    Thank you for sharing this Beverley – I have been through this pain many times & my heart goes out to you – it’s the hardest thing, so lose a such a loved companion. Gizmo was a very special little dog and you were meant for each other. As you’ve said in your writing here, it’s so important to be kind to yourself and get plenty of rest at this time. At the end, we have the privilege of being able to take away their suffering – we take all the pain, in our grieving, so they don’t have to feel it. Much love to you xx

    • admin

      You said it so beautifully, I take the grief so he didn’t have to suffer and that is what gets me through, I couldn’t have coped seeing him struggle xx

  • Kaz

    Thank you for sharing as sometimes people are not so kind when a pet passes away. I said goodbye to my cat in the first lockdown in 2020. I’m grateful I kept a diary of when I adopted him as he was my first ever cat. A memory jar or book is a lovely idea. I will miss seeing him in your videos. Thank you for the link to the above video. Take care of you, big hugs xx

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