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Life After Pet Loss

A few weeks after my dog Roxy died, my husband did a grocery run. While unpacking his haul, he handed me a bag of my go-to snack, turkey pepperoni sticks. I immediately burst into tears.

The last bite of every turkey stick had always been Roxy’s. She knew it and I knew it, but my husband had never noticed; it was just our private, unspoken ritual. In her absence, just looking at the bag ruined my appetite with a swift gut punch. There was just no way I could eat one without her.

As the months passed, I became able to look back on photos of Roxy and feel something other than just sadness. Instead, I reflected on those memories with happiness for the time we shared. Grief slowly released its grip, but for a year and a half, turkey pepperoni sticks still turned my stomach. 

If you do a web search for “life after loss”, you’ll be served thousands of links. There is no shortage of books and articles to help navigate the grief journey in the months and years after losing a human loved one. In comparison, if you search “life after pet loss”, the advice is much more short-term. “Remember to eat.” “Give yourself permission to cry.” “Maintain a normal routine.” “Learn to love again.” Reading between the lines? Get over it.  But grief of any sort isn’t so neat and tidy. Whether it’s the loss of a human, pet, marriage, relationship, job or health… that grief never really goes away.

If life is a car, then grief is a passenger. Immediately following a loss, it commands the driver’s seat and dictates every turn you make. Then one day, as the miles pass, it slips into the backseat. It might whisper instructions in your ear from time to time, or even take the wheel unexpectedly, but you learn to live with it along for the ride. Lately, I’ve even been enjoying its company.

Will I get another dog? Maybe one day. Every road trip is better with a dog, after all. But lately, I’ve just been getting to know my passenger. The journey is a lot less lonely that way. So we talk about the past, we cry, and most importantly, we give thanks for the time Roxy and I spent together.

And, sometimes, we even eat turkey pepperoni sticks.


Dr. I. Wonder is here to answer your questions regarding your furry family members. If you have a question, email it to us at danielle@NeighbourhoodPetClinic.com. Our team at Neighbourhood Pet Clinic will tap into their collective experience to answer your various questions.


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