Our sweet 16 year old dog, Tigra, getting frail, is in failing health now. She is teaching us about acceptance. I don’t want to learn it. I don’t want to know that I will soon have to let go.
We’re losing our elders and we’re losing our aging pets. I am reminded of our clients who describe the struggle of realizing that an aging parent or spouse getting too old to manage alone anymore or is fast going downhill, yet they don’t want to face it. We empathize and offer support and direction. Now I feel the same about Tigra. I wish someone would offer me a direction. I don’t want to face it.
And nearly every week, I hear from friends, colleagues and acquaintances that they are losing their parents and grandparents at an accelerating rate. Their elders are in their 80s, 90s and more. My friend’s grandmother is 104 and rapidly declining in health. My friend is sad and she is having a hard time with it, just as her daughter is getting married. She is a lot like the rest of us. Life goes on, and there are happy things to look forward to, but at the very same time, we can’t part with the ones we love so easily, no matter what else is happening.
I look at my beloved pooch getting weaker by the day. The vet has kindly explained all the things that are failing. Tigra has nearly given up eating. I know humans often do the same near the end, too. It’s a sign, yet we urge them to eat nonetheless. We don’t want to just say, ok, I will make peace with your choice not to eat. We coax Tigra to take a bit of this or that and she looks at me as if to say, “Don’t you get it? I’m 16 years old, I’m getting near the end, so just be all right with that”. I’m not. I’m so not all right with it.
I am desperately trying to learn what the old gal is trying to teach me, that I must accept that her end is inevitable. You see, she has been a nearly constant companion for both Mikol and me these 16 years. She comes to work and sleeps at my feet or Mikol’s every day. We’ve had thousands of walks together and done a zillion errands.
When Mikol fell ill some years ago, she knew. She would not leave his side until he recovered two weeks later. They have bonded ever since.
The life lesson our pets teach us is that our time with the ones we love is ever so precious. We want to appreciate it and not take it for granted. And we want to thank the ones who have given us so much for all they have done, whether they are human or pets. And we need to just be with the sadness we feel when it’s time to let go. We need to grieve and not fight it. And we need to also focus on what is good and happy in our lives too, as that is what gets us through this.
For anyone reading this who is facing a loss at this time, we’re with you. Share it with the people close to you. Just putting it in words can be a relief. And reach out to hold someone’s hand if you can. It really helps. And you are helping us by letting us tell you about what is going on. We thank you.