I recently finished Meghan Daum’s compelling book of essays, The Unspeakable. She writes poignantly about her life and observations. Her essay “The Dog Exception” was, well, no exception. A particular paragraph stuck with me and I wanted to share it, as I come across this sentiment often when counseling a client grieving a pet. Sometimes, there’s a disowning of the grief, a fear that others may minimize the pain since “it was only a dog (a cat, a hamster, a bird…).” I find Meghan Daum’s words to hold validation for those who have suffered a similar loss and permission to grieve wholeheartedly.
On losing her dog Rex, she writes:
But you know what’s coming next. It’s what always comes next with dogs. Graying muzzles, creaking hips, tumors. To have an old dog is to look into the eyes of the sweetest soul you know and see traces of the early light of the worst day of your life. What that day comes there is no universally recognized ritual of mourning. No one expects you to take time off from work. No one understands that you cannot answer the phone for a week. No one likes it when you say the barbaric truth, which is that because pets occupy a sphere of uncomplicated, unfluctuating love, because their love actually becomes absorbed into the architecture of your home, their deaths can be more devastating that even the death of a close friend or family member.
Have you ever felt this way at the loss of a beloved pet? I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether or not this resonated with you.