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Old goodbyes and new beginnings


Dear Ella,
Last week I said goodbye to my best friend, my dog Quince. I’d had him since he was six weeks old. Quince introduced me to my husband. We were walking in the park when Alan approached and scooped him up. Quince wiggled in his arms and gave Alan a tongue bath. We married one year later. Quince helped me raise my boys and never left my side through bad times and good. His passing is a huge loss.
I’ve taken a few days off work to grieve, but I’m not getting much support. I’ve already received emails from co-workers. “It’s too busy for you to just take off,” is what one of them said.
I am literally afraid to go back. I know they are talking about me and ridiculing me. I won’t get any understanding when I return. How will I get through this?
Goodbye Dear Friend

Dear Goodbye Dear Friend
A 12,000-year-old tomb was discovered in Israel that contained a woman with her hand resting on the body of a puppy. The strong connection between humans and their pets dates back thousands of years. Your bond with Quince was undeniable. Don’t ever allow anyone to trivialize that. It’s difficult to make someone who is not an animal lover appreciate the pain you’re in. Until you’ve been blessed with the joy and warmth of a nuzzle or purr, you cannot relate to the loss of such a friendship. Losing a family pet requires grieving. Taking that time is not an indulgence, it’s a necessity.
When you get back to work, don’t expect sympathy and support, you will get that from others who loved Quince or have been through this type of loss, too. Get through the day by losing yourself in your work. Each day will become easier as you eventually fall back into your routine. Try not to be angry with your co-workers. Remember, not everyone is as fortunate as you to be able to know the true emotional gift a pet can provide.
We can all take a lesson from our furry friends. They don’t judge us, they never hold a grudge and they love us unconditionally – things people who have never owned a pet can’t know. Hang on to the memories Quince left you. They will continue to comfort you and make you smile.

Dear Ella,
My nine-year-old son is 25 pounds overweight. It affects his ability to play with friends and he is the brunt of many jokes. He doesn’t feel good about himself, and I’m trying to fix that. With the help of his doctor, I’ve devised a healthy program for him to follow. I work hard to organize and prepare meals, but then his grandmother comes along with treats. I cringe when she asks him what he wants for dessert. I’ve explained our goals to her, but she argues that because he’s a growing boy, he needs to eat. Am I fighting a losing battle?
Healthy Habits

Dear Healthy Habits
I commend you on being proactive early on in your child’s life. Grandma loves her grandson dearly, and feeding him is the way she shows it. Has your whole family adopted a healthy lifestyle? Your son should not feel like he is different or on a diet. This should be a family initiative to eat healthy and exercise together, like a regular family bike ride or hike. Celebrate special occasions at home, where you control meals. Your son is nine, and although I’m sure he loves the treats grandma offers, at his age, he can be taught to understand they are not permitted. Have a standby substitute for him so he doesn’t feel deprived, something not food-related, such as a game, craft or new app.
Tell him how proud you are every time he makes the right decision. Make sure everyone is on board. Make this a positive experience and encourage him as he makes progress. When grandma sees how happy he is, she will jump on the bandwagon, too.