My family has always loved animals. My sister decided at the ripe old age of seven that she would become a vet when she grew up. I’m happy to say that she’ll be attending vet school this fall, after three years of applying (that’s the average). Over the years, she’s been our guidance with our pets, bringing attention to any ailments or changes with them. The notes became more frequent as she went away to college, coming back monthly to visit and lecture us on our animal care.

Sophie, our 13 year old Yorkshire Terrier, passed away in her sleep on Saturday.

This came unexpectedly.

My sister was here last week, leaving Friday afternoon. Over the course of the week, we talked about our other dog, Battie, and her progress after having an eye surgery.

You see, Battie developed an autoimmune condition last year where her tear ducts stopped producing tears, which led to small cataracts and crusted over eyes. Over the past year, we’ve been taking her to the vet, trying different things to get her eyes to produce tears on their own, but nothing worked. The family decided to proceed with a surgery to reroute two of her saliva glands from her mouth to her tear ducts.

We took her to a vet for a dental treatment as they wouldn’t put the nine year old Miniature Pincher under for the eye surgery unless she was in top condition. They extracted three teeth and we let her recuperate for two weeks before having her undergo the other surgery.

She passed with flying colors and now has eyes properly producing tears and clean teeth. Throughout everything, she lost roughly two pounds (a bit fast) and is now the correct weight she should be. She’s a beautiful, healthy dog.

I’m telling you about Battie to point out that we, as a family, were so focused on her that we didn’t notice what was happening with Sophie.

Sophie had been losing weight, but she had a stocky build and thick hair, so it wasn’t obvious. The family always joked about her actually being a cat because she wasn’t super active with us or the other dogs; she had an extremely calm demeanor. She even broke her leg when she was four or five and the only reason we knew was because she was limping. She didn’t complain about anything. On Saturday, Sophie passed away in her sleep.

We had been too busy paying attention to Battie to note Sophie, thinking she was fine and not taking the time to truly care for our animals.

We still have Battie, Bill, Piper, and our fish Brindalynn.

I had to share this story, because I’m not particularly good with grief. My dad texted the family on Saturday, saying that Sophie had gone to play with Orville and Stanley, two of our previous dogs. My mother thinks he’s a little wigged out by how sudden it was and how he was the only one home.

My quality of work on Sunday was awful, I was actively reprimanded by one of my bosses because they had to fix so many mistakes. I went yesterday and wasn’t quite as bad, but with the advice from my bipolar support group mates, I called in sick today and have spend the day baking, cleaning, and taking the time to think about it.

I still don’t know where I am at with my grief, but I do know that Leo’s article has helped me address it. I’m not 100%, and I shouldn’t pretend to be.

How have you handled your grief?


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