For the Love of Dog
Our Endless Affair with Man's Best Friend
Photography: Craig Wolfrom
(page 8 of 9)
Circle of Life
"Take a few days. We can keep her until you decide.” With those simple words, Dr. Mark Acker took pounds of burden off my already laden heart. My beloved Emma Claire—Emma Shmema, The Shmeminator, Em & Em, the irrepressible impish boxer that a psychic once told me (unsolicited) was my horse in a former life, who had accidentally killed me and was back to be my guide—died suddenly of arterial dysfunction. A heart attack, with no warning, no symptoms, no salvation. Adding to the trauma, it happened in front of my two three-year-old daughters.
From the moment I reached Emma’s lifeless body, minutes after we started into the house after a play session, my mind was whirling with what to do next. As I shook her, pumped her chest and heaved her into the car, I had to consider how I was reacting. I wanted to scream, cry, curse, blame someone, leave the kids and rush to the hospital with Emma in hopes of saving her but, while being true to my emotions, I also had to show some control. Some calm, thoughtful effort. Panic would do nothing for anyone, and, how could I tell my kids to remain calm and proactive in the face of adversity if I couldn’t do it myself?
Turns out my instincts were right. As I made my way through the process of surrender, guilt, pain and sorrow, I learned how poignant death is to all.
You have the right to grieve
Grieving thoroughly is one of life’s primary lessons. How we do it sets the tone for our recovery from it. It can also establish for your children the process that they will rely on when they are faced with grief. Don’t underestimate the power of losing a beloved pet, nor can you overdo what you feel you need to do to honor your lost one. On the other hand, underplaying your emotions may return as lingering regret and leave children ill-equipped to deal with the unpleasant turn in life’s cycle. >>>