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Sunday, December 21, 2014

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Trouble coping after loss

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Dear Ella,

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. I came home after work and when I opened the front door, Coco saw another dog across the street, ran out past me and was hit by a car. I rushed her to the emergency clinic, where they took her immediately, but I had to sign in advance for payment. I was so distraught at the time, I would have signed anything. Coco didn’t survive, and all I was left with was her collar and a huge bill. On top of losing my best friend, my baby, I now have additional debt.

I miss Coco with all my heart, and I’m finding it hard to breathe, let alone function at work. I take frequent breaks and cry in the bathroom stall. I haven’t told anyone what happened, because I know I will burst into tears.

One of my co-workers started to criticize the way I was doing something, and I blurted out, “Leave me alone, my dog just died!” As soon as I said it, I felt horrible. That’s not how I wanted to let people know.

I am finding it difficult to cope. My colleagues and even some of my friends don’t understand. One of them said, “It was just a dog, you can get another one.”  I can’t face anyone right now. I am angry, mostly at myself for being so careless. When will I feel normal again?

Not Coping

Dear Not Coping

I am very sorry for your loss. Coco was your family member in every sense. Unfortunately, you can’t make someone who has never loved a pet understand your pain. Until you have had the good fortune of experiencing the warmth and happiness you feel when your excited dog greets you at the door like you’ve been gone for days, or nuzzles its nose under your hand, you can’t identify.

You have lost a family member, and the grief is very real. It is not an indulgence, it is a necessity, and it’s normal.

Grieving for a pet is a process. You will go through all the emotions associated with grieving, and you can’t rush that.

When you get back to your job, don’t expect sympathy and support. It’s not because your co-workers are insensitive, it’s just that they can’t relate to what you’re going through. Not everyone is as fortunate as you to be able to know the emotional bond and love you and Coco shared.

Get through the day and lose yourself in your work. Each day will become easier as you eventually fall back into your routine.

As for the debt, pay it off as best you can. Make a payment schedule and stick to it. Put a little away from each paycheque, and think of it as the last tribute you were able to give your sweet Coco. This was not your fault. It was an accident. You have to accept that to move on.

We can all take a lesson from our furry friends. They don’t judge us, they never hold a grudge, they just love us unconditionally. People who have never loved a pet can’t understand this bond. Keep the memories Coco left you close in your heart. They will always comfort you and make you smile when you need them.

 

Readers may submit their questions to Ella at The CJN, e-mail: ellacjn@gmail.com. But Ella is not a professional counsellor. She brings to the questions posed by readers her unique brand of earthy wisdom. Her advice is not a replacement for medical, legal or any other advice. For serious problems, consult a professional.

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