Friday, 24 June 2011

Moving On

I've barely touched my blog since my darling Labrador Bailey passed away four months ago. The reason, quite simply, is that I've been too entrenched in the depths of grief to write anything of any substance.

The impact of losing a much loved pet should never be underestimated. There will no doubt be those who think (thankfully no one has actually said it to me) "it's only a dog". It hurts to even write those words. Bailey was a huge part of my life, my constant companion, my reason for getting up in the morning. He formed a big part of my social life. Through walking him I made friends with fellow dog walkers, some whom I've now known for several years. I started each day with a walk in the countryside, noting the changing of the seasons, chatting with other walkers, having the occasional coffee while we caught up with what's going on in our lives, even getting together for an evening meal in the pub.

I do still occasionally go for a walk, but it's just not the same without him by my side. I imagine him exploring in the woods, running ahead of me on the woodland paths. I know every favourite marking post, every blade of grass of the dark green tufts he used to graze on, the discarded sticks lying where he last chased them, his teeth marks still visible where he'd carried them off into the long grass to chew.

I know in time the overwhelming sadness will ease, and the tears and unbearable thoughts of those final few days will be replaced with memories of happier times of the joy he brought to my life. I just have to go through the grieving process and come out of the other side.

There is now a huge black hole that was once filled with laughter, love and companionship. I go through the motions of each day, making my jewellery, taking photos, listing items for sale in my shop. But everything in my life involves inanimate objects. My life lacks life. My life lacks purpose. My life lacks love.

Bailey's passing also coincided with my son moving out and into his own place.  It had been on the cards for a long time, ever since he returned from university.  What had started out as a temporary base for a few months had turned into 4 years, so it was long overdue. But the two events coinciding meant for the first time in my life I found myself living totally alone.

My son has suggested that I turn a negative into a positive; He reminds me that I am now free to do whatever I want with my life. I wish I could see it like that and run with it, facing the challenges my new life has to offer. The world is indeed my Oyster. But with that freedom comes responsibility... responsibility for my own life, and what I make of it.

Not having Bailey by my side shouldn't make any difference. Not having anyone there to hold my hand shouldn't make any difference. As my very wise son pointed out, all the major events that have happened in my life have been instigated by me. We may feel as if we need someone there to hold our hand, but essentially we are alone. No one can live our life for us. We enter life alone and exit life alone.

Maybe that's my problem. I am now completely free for the first time in my life, and it scares the life out of me. I have spent my entire adult life caring for others, and now all I need to care about is myself.

Freedom is frightening.

Or in the words of Janice Joplin "Freedom is just another word for having nothing left to lose"


  1. What a wonderful post! I can entirely relate to everything you have written. I agree, your son is very wise. My daughter has given me similar advice - my problem is taking it. :)
    Best of luck with your newfound freedom.

  2. Thank you! I really should bring my blog up to date, because I am moving on, and there are some lovely new experiences happening in my life.

    It's taken a lot of soul searching, and a good long look in the mirror. I can't deny it's been a hard slog, but I'm getting there. I work daily on developing my new positive attitude and must try to find time to blog about it.

    It was scary at the outset, but new beginnings can be wonderfully exciting, if we let go of the fear and embrace them.

    Take your daughter's advice, and grasp life with both hands... it's the only one we've got.

    Good luck! xx

  3. My heart goes out to you! I lost my darling boxer XENA back in 2007, the grief I experienced is greater than words can really express. There are many people who dont understand how a person can become so attached to a pet, but to many of us our "pets" are more than that, they are like children or a beloved family member to us. I had lost a baby full term in 1995, a friend took me to go get a boxer puppy in order to help me deal with my loss of a child and the grief I was experiencing. My boxer Xena literally saved my life, she gave me a reason to want to wake up. That dog, my best friend stayed by my side and brightened each and every day with her "wooo wooo woooing" bark talk, stumpy tail wagging and the delight that I could see in her eyes each and every time she saw me. There is nothing that can ever replace the love I had for her or she for I, and I am sure that you feel the same way. Many hugs to you dear, you are in my thoughts!

  4. Thank you Hippie Chic. It was Bailey's first anniversary on the 21st Feb, a milestone I wasn't looking forward to, yet in some ways it has helped me to move forward as I've now experienced all the special events of the year without him such as Christmas, birthdays and such. He will always be in my heart. I loved him like no love I've ever experienced before, or ever will again.

    I'm so sorry you suffered the loss of your baby. That is something I can't even begin to imagine. But I can see why your darling Xena became such a huge part of your life. They are so very special and with us such a short time.

    Big hugs to you

    Take care

    Mel xx