My beloved dog died in June. It was sudden and violent, and in the aftermath, I passed through the initial stages of grief in rapid succession: denial, anger, and bargaining. Some acceptance came with the results of the necropsy report and subsequent lab results. The pneumonia that had swiftly filled her lungs was an antibacterial-resistant strain of staph that also choked her liver, kidneys, and spleen. Nothing could have saved her.
Still, heavy feelings of guilt and despair overwhelmed me. Those final seconds when she looked in my eyes, struggling for breath, terrified, and I was helpless to save her, helpless to do anything at all. The horror of that moment is imprinted on my heart forever.
The one thing in my life that’s always worked is writing. It’s my sanctuary and escape. It’s the well that never goes dry.
I try to write. I sit at the desk at 3 AM and put some words into the file. There’s no spark. No life. I doubt everything. I’m not interested in writing. I worry that I will never write another book and that all my good ideas have dried up. I’m not interested in reading either. I float through space and time. I exist.
After such loss and grief of my dear friend, having the words also abandon me feels like a brutal betrayal. Writing is supposed to nourish me back to health. I am without comfort. Mute. Joyless.
It’s a myth that suffering makes writers into better artists. Suffering is just suffering.
One article on the subject suggests that when you have creative blocks from grief, you should try other outlets. Since I’m a YA novelist, maybe I should do a few of the crafty things I used to enjoy:
· Making collages
I do not have an appetite for these things either.
Ice cream. That’s what I have an appetite for. And 1000 piece puzzles.
Grief Will Pass
The depression that comes with grief feels both the same and different from garden-variety depression. In my head I know that this apathy is related to sadness. Sometimes strong emotions and crying are involved. I keep waiting for it to end so my life can return to normal.
People say grief passes with time. You get another dog, and that chases this terrible sadness away. But getting another dog means truly saying goodbye to sweet Terra and making space for someone new, and that process is more painful than any physical pain. It means accepting that I’ll never, ever, ever see, pet, brush, smell, hear, or feel this girl again.
I loved her so much more than my writer words can express.
She was a 100-pound wanna-be lap dog, a cuddly teddy bear.
She loved long walks in the pasture with me and belly rubs.
She protected the yard from dangerous groundhogs and raccoons.
She played fetch to humor me because she liked spending time together, but Akitas really don’t like fetch.
She converted me from a cat-person to a cat-and-dog person.
She made me laugh with her silliness and sweetness.
She loved me and forgave me for being an imperfect human who sometimes worked too late for much petting.
I loved and forgave her for being an imperfect dog who sometimes ate shoes and Amazon boxes.
I know she’s no longer suffering.
I know I will always miss her and love her and never forget her, for the rest of my life.
A new dog cannot fill the humongous hole that Terra leaves behind. She was a unique and larger-than-life individual.
But perhaps two can help to heal my shattered heart. We are adopting a young bonded pair of brothers at the end of the month from a rescue organization. We’ve met them, and they are full of energy and love, needing lots of attention and care and a home. We need each other, I think.
Perhaps as the leaves begin to turn with fall, my grief will change colors, and my words will return.