365 Days of Grief and How We Have Coped Without Our Boy

Chewy, Brian and I at the Mountain House-One of Chewy's All-Time Favorite Spots...

They say time heals all wounds, but that presumes the source of the grief is finite.” – Cassandra Clare

It's been 365 days since we said goodbye to our sweet Chewy. This past year has been an eye-opening lesson in loss, love, and surrender. 

Initially, I tried to control my grief and suppress it when it was inconvenient, but I have since learned that there is no way to control such a powerful emotion. 

There have been moments of tears and laughter and immense sadness over the past year and I want to share this article to maybe help others that are experiencing the same feelings of loss. 

These activities and items have helped us to cope with the loss of Chewy. We have had such incredible support from family and friends-I don't know what we would've done without them.

I hope this article helps if you are experiencing loss or if you are looking to help someone else that is experiencing grief.

Items that were given to us that meant so much:

-Cards, messages, emails, texts, etc. The amount of outpouring of love and support was breathtaking.

And the most beautiful part of it all was that so many people were contacting us to express sympathy, but they also had their own stories of why Chewy was so important to THEM. It was such an honor to know that he touched so many lives in so many ways. And to read about your loved one like that was so meaningful.

This doesn't diminish the outreach from people that had never had a chance to meet him either. These people were reaching out because they KNEW how special he was and what a huge part of our lives he was. The messages truly helped us to get through.

-Donations: donations made in Chewy's name to the GSPCA in Grenada and to FETCH a Cure were so kind and thoughtful and meaningful. It meant the world to us to have had people donate in his honor. What a wonderful tribute. 

-Donation bracelets: we received a few donation bracelets that were purchased in honor of Chewy with part of the proceeds going to an animal rescue. Not only was this sweet and caring, it is a donation that I can wear and always think of our beloved Bud. 

-Special gifts: we received beautiful flowers, our wonderful friend created a shirt that benefited FETCH a Cure in his honor, and we also received very special gifts from Grenada. One of our friends bought a steel drum from Grenada and had it sent here to remind us of our boy... the amount of kindness and thoughtfulness of friends was staggering.

-Urns: Chewy is with us in the house in a beautiful wooden box iwth his name on it. And he is also with me always... in a teardrop-shaped urn around my neck. He is always with me and if I'm sad and missing him, my hand naturally goes to my necklace and I feel comforted. 

What we did to cope:

-We did yoga... mostly during the last few months of his life, but we went to class and we took an hour of our day to reflect, stretch, and quiet our minds. I think this was truly helpful even if we didn't' become "yogis" and win any flexibility championships. It helped. And yes, I may have cried in classes, but there is no judgment in yoga and I was so grateful to have time alone with my thoughts.

-When Chewy passed, we packed a couple bags and we got the hell out of the house. We had a very generous family member that allowed us to escape the sadness of our newly-empty home and spend time grieving and recognizing how our lives had changed in the blink of an eye. We spent 4 or 5 days away and had wonderful friends that offered to gather Chewy's things in our absence. We felt that we needed to do it ourselves, but could understand how it would be too painful to do for some people. 

-We gave his belongings to a person who could use them. I think Chewy knew that he had it pretty good with us and that he would want the same for other dogs in similar circumstances. We trusted this person very much to disperse his items to dogs that would benefit from the items that helped him out when he became more fragile.

-We had a ceremony for him. And it was perfect. We were incredibly fortunate to be able to take his ashes back to Grenada to the beach where I met him and return his ashes to the place where it all began. We both wrote him cards telling him how much we loved and missed him and read them aloud to him on the beach. His ashes are now back in the place where he grew up and became the incredible dog that we all came to know and love.

-We spoke with an animal communicator. Yes. I know it sounds a little kooky to some, but it helped us. Maybe it's real, maybe it's not, but it helped us to process thoughts about where he was, how he felt, and where he would be in the future. Our communicator was excellent and smart and she seemed to really "get him". She mentioned events and characteristics of him and our relationship that she couldn't have gotten from sleuthing on Facebook. It was the first time I had used a communicator and it was well worth the time and money. 

-We organized a charity event in Chewy's honor. The Chewy Chase. It was so much fun and it raised a little bit of money and one of our wonderful friends designed a shirt in his honor that we all wore proudly. Chewy was larger than life and his event was a wonderful way for all of his and our friends to get together and share memories and make new ones. 

-We moved. I know this seems extreme and it is not the entire reason for moving, but it had a lot to do with it for me. Our house was so horribly empty and it felt like the breath was just taken right out of it. We had so many wonderful memories with him there. I had a really hard time not feeling sad when I would imagine him in all his "spots"... We had Bentley there for a couple months, but it felt weird and a little wrong to have another dog in Chewy's house. So, we moved.

-We try to talk about him often and laugh and cry and remember. He was such an influence on our lives that it would be impossible to get through a day without thinking of his sweet face.