I know the whole “everyone deals with death in different ways” adage is true, and I trust it. I just don’t know how to deal with my daughter’s way of dealing with death.
Luckily, I didn’t have to experience death in my life as a kid. As an adult, I’ve (expectedly) lost grandparents, (not expectedly) lost a pregnant cousin, and (not expectedly) lost my father-in-law.
Growing up, we had two dogs. One lived to be 17-1/2 years old, and the day before she was to be taken in to be put down, she committed apparent suicide by drowning in the lake behind my parent’s house when I was a teenager. The other lived through cancer, and long after I left home, my dad took her in to be put down.
As a girl and into my teens, death was never something that touched me—not even remotely closely.
For the last 2 years, we’ve been preparing ourselves and our girls for the inevitable death of our oldest dog. For a beagle, any years lived healthily past 13 are added bonuses. We promised her and ourselves that we wouldn’t let her suffer in her elderly age.
We don’t think she did.
She had cataracts, she couldn’t hear worth shit, she’d had a heart murmur for the last 7 years, and she only really barked/howled when she was hungry. But she wasn’t in pain; she wasn’t suffering. We let her live on.
When a beagle turns away food, you know something is wrong or you’ve let your toddler feed her. As I wrote in a previous post,
(M)y girls after having “fed” our dogs while I was in the other room
nappingcleaning, the dog food left after our beagle ate so much she was nearly full. If you know beagles, you know they never get full. They will eat until their stomachs explode like the Glutton victim inSe7en. I imagine this was the Best Day Ever for the dog.
Sunday, Kesah turned away her dinner. She refused to eat.
The dog we adopted from an animal shelter on our 1st wedding anniversary and named after an NHL goalie (Dominik Hasek, spelled backwards), the dog who once ate so much food she stopped eating, collapsed and couldn’t get back up.
Without going into (gross) details about what she went through in her last hours, we made the final decision to have her taken in to the emergency vet on Sunday afternoon and have her put down.
She was not going to suffer.
But I think my daughter is suffering in her loss.
Anna, at 8 years old, loved that dog more than I probably ever did. Anna, with her anxiety issues and intelligence and tendency to disappear inside her head, is quietly grieving and won’t let us in.
She’s still laughing, still happy, still putting on a good face.
On Sunday, she saw the end of her dog’s life. We did everything we could to prepare her and her sister and ourselves for Kesah’s death, but even all of that preparation couldn’t help the sobs and wails from escaping.
So I grieved for the innocence lost in my daughter’s eyes that death hadn’t yet touched her.
This week, she’s been…off. Not herself. Hiding something. Refusing to admit that anything is wrong. Unwilling to succumb to her tears.
Her way of dealing with Kesah’s death is hurting me more than losing our dog.
I don’t know what it’s like to be 8 years old and lose a family member or pet. I can’t sympathize with her. I never had to watch a pet go through the processes of death.
I’m at a loss.
I feel like I’m waiting for her to fall.