They say that there are 5 stages or levels of grief. I believe that something as complicated as grief and loss probably has more, and maybe stages that get repeated. They say in order to heal one must complete all 5.
- Denial – That night, watching Dave out at the back of the property digging, everything seemed surreal. It was almost hard to even be sad, because I just didn’t believe it had happened. She was just sleeping in her bed a few minutes ago. It was all just a nightmare that continued to play out, but we expected to wake up any minute and be freed from the terrible feeling that was consuming us.
- Anger – The next day, Saturday, was a day of numbness. Things still didn’t feel real, and everywhere I turned I saw her. I woke up to see her bed empty. I walked to the front door and only one dog came to pee. I stepped over chew toys as I made coffee and looked down to see her dog bowl half full with yesterdays food. But once the evening hit, and I had some alone time, it all changed. Why her?! She was the best dog, and a part of our family. What did we do to deserve that?! I was mostly angry at myself. I cried, and couldn’t believe that I didn’t watch her while she was outside alone. I was mad at myself for not training her better, to fear the road. I was mad that it rained and the light wasn’t installed because of it.
- Bargaining – This is where I was hit with guilt. And if I continue to think about it, I might go insane. We knew that there was issues with Maddie leaving the yard. Our neighbor had told us he saw Maddie and her boyfriend crossing the street before. Our other neighbor also mentioned that she had started wandering into his yard (he’s beside us, not across the street). We even went online and purchased an in-ground fence. We figured it was better to be safe than sorry. It had just arrived and we were so excited for the peace of mind. But of course, life got in the way and it had yet to be installed. It, like the solar light, was in our possession but were not used. We also had plans to put a staircase off our back deck, to keep the dogs in the back field and away from the driveway and road. But, because of the work we are doing at the City House, we pushed that project off until the spring. Looking back we realize that no load of laundry is more important than family, and a bedtime could have waited 5 minutes until the dog was brought it. But those are “what if’s” and “if only’s” that we will never find out the outcome of.
- Depression – Although the entire family is sad, we all needed closure. It was the only way to make sense out of a senseless accident for us. We decided we would create a beautiful place for her to rest in the yard. We picked out a tree to plant beside her, and Dave created a homemade cross to mark the area. We felt that Kennedy would be able to process more if she had a marker for visiting. I decorated the cross and we placed it, and the tree out in the yard with her.
- Acceptance – At this point, there is nothing else to do. I am strong for my family as best as I can be. We have cleaned up her remaining things, we have laid her to rest, we have said our final goodbyes, and now life goes on. We can see her cross from our kitchen (if you’re looking for it) and we are reminded each day of her and the joy she brought to us. I am certain there will be many more days of tears ahead, days that seem unbearable, or days when it just feels like we miss her extra. Those days I will visit her grave, and give extra hugs to those in need, I will stare at her pictures and watch old videos of her. But I will be celebrating her life, not reliving her death.
Rest in peace my sweet Maddie girl. You have touched our family with a love that will never be replaced and impossible to forget. Until we meet again xo