Replacing The Loss

One of the first things I ever read about grief was that you should never try and replace the loss. It made no sense to me. As if I was going to go out and replace my husband? I couldn’t even imagine.

But with the loss of Millie, I am seeing things differently, and I’m starting to see how people could conceivably try and replace a loss. I feel guilt that I am already looking at puppies, just two weeks since tragedy struck. I know I am still in deep grief because I continue to break down in tears. Some of those tears have to do with the trauma of having witnessed the accident, but a lot have to do with simply missing that little girl sitting on my lap all day, or crawling under the covers at night to sleep between my legs. I picture her lying on the deck in the sun, and my kitchen floor is covered in crumbs that should be hers.

After Harley died, we had a two year, dog-free hiatus. I was content to be dogless. I had no desire to run out and get another dog. Harley’s last years had been hard on us both and I had come to think of dog ownership as just another burden that I didn’t want to take on. But then Millie came along and changed all that. She was easy. And fun. And I fell madly in love with her.

So why the heck do I want to replace her so badly? And so quickly? Logic tells me no, but my heart has been scouring the Internet for puppies. I even found a full grown Boston Terrier who looks like Millie. And so I hesitate. I cannot replace Millie. She is irreplaceable. But I am willing to meet a dog who looks just like her. Will I be disappointed when this dog is not like her? Will I know right away if it’s right or not? Will a new dog come into our lives with the inescapable feeling of being unable to live up to her predecessor, or will I fall in love with this new dog for its own sake, just like I did with Millie?

I like to think it will be the last option.

 

7 Comments

  1. Kim Go July 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I know that very same reality. Once I did replace an animal quickly and it was problematic. BUT, I have observed others that have done it with happy result.

    Part of my impulse to replace my kitty Chase was that he gave so much warmth to my home that I was very cold inside when I entered the house, having no “little life” there. I also think that it was after a period when I had lost so much and this was actually a loss that I could “replace” by my will and volition (animals are less complicated to choose and have a lesser choice in the matter).

    I understand your pain and I know that you will make a good choice when you listen to your heart and inner voice. Let us know what you do.

  2. Sarah July 26, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    As a Boston Terrier owner, I can relate. Our Gizmo is a complete pain in the ass and so neurotic (like most Bostons) but he’s also the glue that keeps us together. And as he was Brett’s dog mostly, he was HUGE source of comfort in the initial days, weeks and months after his death.
    I say get another one! Millie would understand and want you to have that companionship again that only a doggie can provide 🙂

  3. ANNEMARIE July 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Abby,
    Go for it!! When our Waldo died after 15 years, I could not even imagine getting another cat. He was our first cat…he actually found and adopted us even though we were “dog people”. But we didn’t want a puppy because we were both gone all day. Waldo was the perfect cat! Then about 2 weeks after Waldo died, I found myself scouring the internet for a breeder and 1 month later, we had Lucca and Vivi in our arms. I can’t imagine my life now 9 years later without my precious Siamese babies! Sleeping with 2 cuddly cats is way better than sleeping alone! Hey, Love is Love and you’ve got alot to give so go get that puppy and fall in love all over again!

  4. Frouckje July 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    We lost one of our kittens within a year. Het was hit by a car and I was devastated. I never imagined that I could love animals so much, I never had ones before. But the two kittens entered my live in a difficult period and from the day on the started to discover our house, I felt better. I enjoyed having them around and they gave me more then expected. So I was heartbroken when I found Kimi dead. He wasn’t even a year old. Such a waste. But we took in another kitten within the month. We loved having two cats and wanted a new friend for Heikki. Kimi and Heikki were bort red male cats and Mika looks just the same. And I still missed Kimi and felr sad, but my husband and I both fell in love with Mika as well. It does not feel as though Mika replaced Kimi. They were different creatures, with their own characters. So it was good that we gave done it. Go for it!

  5. other abby July 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    My pets have lived wonderfully, impossibly beyond expectations and I struggle with anxiety about how I will grieve when they go. I know I will be asking myself the very same questions.
    Reading this is a reminder to live with gratitude. pets do = love.
    So sorry about Millie.

  6. Crash Course Widow July 26, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I tried to “replace” our dog a month after he died, with another 3yo dog from the Humane Society. I realized within hours, which was confirmed within a few days, that it was the way wrong dog, time, and circumstances…and the dog went back to the Humane Society within a week. (Thank god they were so kind and understanding about the whole thing!!) We got a cat instead, about 3 months after Chase died, and she worked much better for us then. Easier, less stress, no trauma.

    We waited almost 3 years before we got another dog. I don’t necessarily suggest waiting that long (nor waiting at all, necessarily), but the timing was so much better this time with Anna being older.

    “Replacing” a pet is nothing like replacing a dead spouse, so I don’t see any strong reasons why to wait. Yes, it’s grief and loss, but it’s a different breed of loss compared to what we’ve experienced with the deaths of our spouses. I found the trauma and manner how the dog died was especially challenging for a solid month or more, simply because it played too much on the suddenness, bizarre nature, and capricious fate of Charley’s manner of death too.

    Sending you lots of love and big hugs, Abby, as you miss your little love bug and figure out how to move forward dogwise.

    xoxo,
    Candice

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