This post will get a little personal for me, but I made a promise to be more authentic and genuine in my business and with my audience. I’m writing exactly how I feel - no sugar coating. As a pet industry marketer, pretty much 95% of my audience are animal lovers and pet owners. So, they may relate, and may even feel a little less alone in their own grieving process. I'm not typically one that enjoys journaling or writing down thoughts to make myself feel better, but I found myself needing to write this out. And, it really did help, so maybe it will help you, too.
The fact that it’s been one year since my girl has passed is cringeworthy to me. It feels shattering, to be honest. It makes me feel like my mind hasn’t yet caught up to how many physical days have passed.
You’d think that it would be a lot easier now that 365 days have come and gone. And of course, the day-to-day is easier.
But, still, sometimes just a fleeting image of her memory popping into my mind or remembering the process of her leaving this world can crack me in an instant.
It’s sad to think about all of the growth that has gone on in my life over the past year and that she’s not here to see it. She got me through the toughest moments in my life and I think she’d be so happy to know where I am now. I would have loved to experience that with her.
Yes, I know she was just a dog. And a lot of people out there will say they “understand that she was like family to me.” They “understand” the fact that most people consider losing a pet as hard. But, everything is relative, right? Your grief can look so different from mine or anyone else's, no matter who or what they’ve lost.
And so, to me, Maggie was everything. The fact that she had four legs and fur and a mohawk that was out of this world, had no bearing on how much I loved her. In fact, I probably loved her more than I would have loved her if she was a human. I was closer to her than any other person on this earth, and I mean that, still today. She was more than just “like family.” She wasn’t even just plain “family.” She was a huge part of my identity, and I lost that when she passed. I don’t want anyone to know me without her. I don’t want anyone in my future to not know who she was. It saddens me to think that so many important people in my life as I age will not know her because, to me, it means they won’t really know me.
My grief has moved in waves. I’ll be fine for a month or two where I can think about her and smile and enjoy her. But, then there are times, every once in a while, when I think about her and I know, if I keep thinking about her, I will lose it. So, I begin to try not to think of her. This obviously doesn’t work for too long because then it boils up and I just need to grieve. And I let myself do it.
Because, to me, I’m still at the point where, when I’m grieving, it means she’s still within me. And that’s the best I can get. To still be hurt means that she’s still close enough in my heart to be hurt from her passing. This probably isn't the best, most logical thinking, but it's just my truth.
Then there are the times I actually choose to grieve her because the thought of not grieving her is to be distant from her memory. So, I purposely go into my phone and watch every single video and zoom in on every single photo of her, so I can keep her fresh in my mind.
Sometimes I feel unjustified in grieving for her still, because I know people out there who have lost humans, too (which is widely accepted as worse). But, you can’t compare grief. If you could, every person would argue that their grief is worse, which, in itself is a weird competition, right? And I don’t agree with that. I lost my grandpa when I was 13 and he was probably the most important person in my life. Our bond was so real and I miss him TONS. But, the pain of losing Maggie, I can admit, is more knife-twisting. It could be that it’s closer in memory. Who knows. But the point is, please don’t judge my grief as anything less than real grief. Regardless of whether she was a human or a dog.
I knew I wanted to do SOMETHING for her to honor her anniversary. To get over the shock of the fact that it’s been a full year that she’s been gone. But, I’m not quite sure how.
If there are any other pet owners out there that would be willing to share anything they have done to honor their pet’s memory, I’d love to hear.
But, for now, writing about her has helped.
To those of you who have told me that you’re still battling your loss, years after, I hope you know that it doesn’t seem weak to me. It shows me you found the right dog and you had one of those unexplainable miracles, too. Some dog people will tell you that, if you’re lucky enough, you’ll happen upon that “one dog.” That was Maggie for me. And I know, when you’re really struggling years after, that that was your Maggie, too. And it’s beautiful to know that people experience the same amazing love that I had with her. I’ll take this grief every single day for the rest of my life because it was worth it.
I love you, sweet Maggie. You’ll always be my number one girl.
If you’ve recently lost a pet, here are some of the things I did to memorialize her:
I got a Cremation Urn Pendant from Etsy. Here’s the link to the shop.
I got her nose print & paw print engraved into a necklace. Here’s the link to the shop.
I still have her blanket wrapped up so that I can squeeze it anytime I want.
She was cremated through my work at a veterinary office, and they provided me with a nice clay paw print.
Some other ideas I’ve seen out there:
I’ve seen people wrap a collar around a plant pot & plant some flowers.
I’ve seen people get tattoos of their pet with their actual ashes in it, which sounds kind of weird, but also kind of cool!
You can donate to pet cancer research.
I think it helps to do something, in my opinion at least. Again, if you have any other ideas for me, I’d LOVE to hear it. You can email me, comment, or DM me.
Just know, you are not alone, no matter how much time has passed. As painful as this loss is, we are SO lucky to have been graced with the presence of such innocence, loyalty, and love. You won't get that anywhere else.
RIP, sweet girl.