Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Phantom Effect. Grieving The Loss Of Your Pet.

Phantom limbs. That reminder of the piece you are missing. It is the lost limb your brain tells you is still there, ready to reach, itching in the sunshine, tickling, prickling, humming for function at the stump. Your brain remembers space, depth and tactile function of the appendage long after it is gone.  These days with all of our technology and science advancement the robotic arms are "learning" to replace the arm/leg by utilizing the brains remembrance and memories by tapping into that phantom calling.

For those of us who recently lost our beloved pets the "phantom theory" applies. My brain tells me Jekyll is still here. I can "feel" his presence in the sickening silence of the weight of this house.

I know he is there, on his bed, at the end of mine. He's just sleeping. He will get up when I do. He's waiting for me. He just pulled the aura of himself into his blankets. That's why it is so quiet. I can't hear his breathing. His "good morning!" wiggles, snorts, and bed dances. Maybe I am still asleep? But he's there. He's got to be there.

The bedroom is still the same. Some fear of losing all of him if I change the way he left it. There is a clean up of the stuff that his sickness required. The mounds of extra linens, the soiled bed pads, the piles of medications. I don't want to remember them. The went to others who need them. Like an organ transplant. They live on to help others.

Yesterday one of my patients, whom I fear is dying eminently, went home with a gift basket of hospice goods care of "Jekyll". My patients mom sobbing scared of losing her boy. I sobbed right along with her. We understand each other. There aren't words that need to be exchanged. Here is my basket of help and my outpouring of hope that he outlives the grimness surrounding his tired body.  We are both pet parents whose life centers around our beloved dogs. It is heart wrenching some days... to be reminded and still forced to reface the cancer again today in another brown eyed pup.

I sat in the car in the driveway last night. I didn't want to walk in the door. It is more raw here, in this house. At work I can stay busy enough to keep the whispers at bay. Kinetic energy helps keep the dam closed.

I sent the obligatory death announcements yesterday. I notified who I had to. His little army of angels.

"Hello All,

We are deeply saddened to announce that Jekyll was euthanized on Sunday morning. His edema and intractable HGE were no longer manageable and he was almost consistently frantically unhappy and unable to keep comfortable without constant sedation.  

The loss is almost more than we can express.

 We are so very grateful for the extra time that we got to spend with him because of everyone at VOSRC’s efforts.  

We would like to extend our sincere appreciation to all of the doctors and staff as many of you went out of your way to fit us in last minute, assist in desperate phone calls, and changes in his treatment plan on a moments notice when needed. 

There are lots of excellent vets in the world but there aren’t many who remain accessible 24/7, nor willing to think or act outside of the box. Even with all of this amazing care you never let me lose or abandon hope. In the end the greatest gift we give our clients is compassion and hope. You all exemplified that at every visit. 

Many thanks.

We miss our boy immensely. He was a magical spirit with a life that never would have been long enough. 

Krista Magnifico and family."

I hear him wrestling out in the hostas. Sneaking the cat food. Running down the drive. Every bed in this house has him on it, upside down, piled in a circular nest to nuzzle his nose into. Charlie won't go onto them. He know "his" from "jeks". The weight of his 30 pounds next to my legs at night. He needs me near and I need to know he is sleeping contentedly.

When you get to the end of a life you remember. Your soul is inextricably tied. I know he is here. I know it because I can't forget he was.


  1. My heart is crushed for you. My dog is dealing with congestive heart failure and was just released from 2 days in the ER. Heart meds/diuretics finally helped him turn the corner. We escaped death this time and I'd been trying to prepare myself to say goodbye once again to a beloved companion. He's also had two cancer surgeries in April so we've been through the wringer in these last months. Please know that you are being thought of in this heartbreaking time. Take care.

  2. I know how you feel. My Dog died 2 weeks ago and during the pet hospice care the whole family is grieving until now. Pet euthanasia provides a painless death, speedy termination of emotional and physical suffering

  3. My heart goes out to you as I have lost many pets. But I just want to say I am happy to have known u in your Maritime life pre vet. You have come a long way and I am delighted to see you have chosen the right occupation and r doing such great with work.
    Anne N. TYCO

  4. I am personally touched by this post as a pet owned mom of 1 human child. Just 9 years ago we lost our beloved first horse on Presidents day. Since that dteadful day we have ironically lost a pet every year on Presidents Day. I am not sure if it is a curse or a blessing that i am able to be home due to the holiday. Last year I thought the death call missed us. The curse was finally over. The pets were all safe inside but I noticed my 20 year old parrot was a little quiet suddenly. I went to check on him to find him ontheo bottom of the cage deceased. I dropped to my knees and sobbed. I never expected him to be the one to go. I am scared for this year to come. I have an older dane that is having back issues and my one and only beautiful best friend and daughter just diagnosed with a terminal heart condition at just 21 years old. I cant bubble wrap all of them enough. I know death is part of life and that one day when my time comes i will be reunited with them all, but the grief is still very real and the memories of them all just not quite enough to make the pain of the loss subside. I still miss them all and think of them often. I hear them and see a little of them in the new furry ones that make their way into my home. Animals are by far the biggest impact in my life and I am so ever grateful for the opportunity to experience the true unconditional love they so freely share with me. If only people could learn to be more like them...