Holding my dog as she died in my arms was one of the most painful experiences of my life. As much as I loved Precious, I was still surprised by how painful the experience of losing her has been. It still hurts, in fact.

My first response to the intense pain was to try to get rid of it. I rashly committed in my heart that I would never have another dog if there was even a chance that I would have to experience this pain again. I went back to work that day to try to get my mind off of it. I told people at work that I didn’t want to talk about Precious because it was just too hard. That evening, when I got home and felt the pain even more acutely, I quickly started gathering up her things so I wouldn’t constantly be reminded of her. And experience more pain.

But even as I was putting away collars and leashes, throwing out old medicines and food, and putting blankets and pillows in the big blue crate headed for the garage, I realized that I was setting myself up for failure. Sure, I might not feel the pain as much, but I also wouldn’t get to experience the joy. They go together.

So, even though I knew I couldn’t stay at the house by myself that first weekend, I went back to the garage and pulled out a couple of Precious’ toys that I could leave out and see regularly once I got back home on Sunday. It would hurt, but it would also remind me of the joy.

The loss is commensurate with the gain. Only in my grief could I see how much I had.

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Thank you to all of you for comments and kindnesses to me in this grief. I had never had a dog like Precious, never had my own pet as an adult, never had an indoor dog who became so much a part of my life. So this grief has been surprising even to me.

For some of you, reading about the grief over a dog feels foreign, excessive. For others of you, reading these essays brings back your own pain. I won’t always write about Precious and her passing, but for a few days, this has been on my heart so exclusively, and writing is how I deal with things. Thanks for hanging in there with me on this.

The picture above is a small memorial I made above to remember Precious. The text on the left is the prayer I wrote for her that was featured on this blog on November 5. This frame, with her collar and toy attached, sits in my living room, evoking pain and joy every time I look at it.