How My Dog Helped Me Grieve

While mourning the painful loss of my daughter, our family's dogs helped provide comfort during a difficult time.

Tolgart/ Getty Images
Tolgart/ Getty Images

Pets help carry us through the highs and the lows of life, and are often in tune to how we feel during sadness and loss, and during times of happiness. They connect to us on a deeper level.

Our pets are always by our side, showing us loyalty and trust. They are accepting of who we are, and they live in the moment. Pets also help us heal through the darkest times in our lives.

My daughter, Elianna, passed away at the tender age of 12 in August 2011 from a brain hemorrhage. Elianna’s passing was very unexpected, and it was a shock to our family and the community. We will always remember her, the young girl with the radiant smile and the most beautiful mane of red hair. She had a caring heart and inner beauty that sparkled. She was our eldest child.

The pain of losing a child is one of life’s harshest blows to a parent. The grief is unfathomable, and I would not wish it upon anyone. 

A tragedy changes us, but in time, it prompts us to start to look at life from a new perspective. Often, we begin to grasp onto our faith, which helps give us the strength we need to pull forward. Faith has also helped me see the meaning of life and death.

Several years before Elianna passed away, we adopted a special little dog, called Ace, from a friend of mine. Ace was a Boston Terrier. Elianna maintained a very special friendship with Ace, and had his picture on her phone. Ace was partially blind, snored rather loudly, had stinky breath, and slept all day long. He only woke up if he could smell an aroma from the kitchen. These imperfect traits made Elianna love him even more, probably because he was not a perfect specimen of a dog, but in her eyes, he was the most loving and best dog anyone would wish to have. 

Since she passed, I have learned so much about my pets and how they have helped me through my grief. I would lie with all three of my dogs for hours until I had no more tears to cry. They would comfort me and listen to me in their unique way, and would act as silent, loving companions, giving me the love and attention I needed. I do believe to this day that Elianna was sending energy through Ace, her beloved dog, which we sensed when we stroked and cuddled him.

I believe all three of my dogs sensed something was different when my daughter fell ill that fateful August day. I feel they intuitively understood what we were going through as a family, and how sad we all were, which was a great comfort in itself. I know they were sad too. They were able to reach us in a much deeper way through their unconditional love, and fill the void within me.

Sadly, Molly, Pepper, and Ace are no longer with us, but I will never forget their loving presence and how they comforted us during the darkest time in our lives. I do miss them still, but I know my daughter, Elianna was there to greet them when they crossed over. I can imagine them, reunited once again and exchanging heartfelt hugs and kisses. I am a great believer in the afterlife, a place where love exists, and pain does not.

A pet’s love is healing to the heart and the soul. And in turn, the love we have for our pets continues even after they leave us. After all that I have been through, my pets have affirmed that love is a connection to all things, and it continues on.

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