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The Loss Of A Pet Stirs Up Guilt

When our dog died, it was guilt that sliced me open. If only I’d listened to my desire to skip the hair cut because it was too cold and I was bone dog tired.

But I shrugged off the feeling, took two hours for errands instead of one. I came home to our umbrella plant shredded, Booker’s nose bleeding, and Night panting like he’d run hard in the hot sun.

I’d known that Booker’s sinus tumor was going to break loose any day, and I should have listened to my instincts; because I might have saved him from distress those last hours. Looking back, I could have petted him more, but old dogs don’t nudge for attention, and they are hard work. You forget they need your hands.

When Bruce’s mother died, guilt blew up like a loud, clanking storm. Her hospice worker pulled me back, said, “Look at how you took care of her.” When my parents died, I lived a thousand miles away. Need I say more?

We fall short, we fall short, we fall short. When someone beloved is no longer here, we remember our failures. We weep. Martha Beck warns, “By ‘Don’t Swallow Poison’ I mean refusing to internalize anything that causes pain, sickness, or extreme distress.” She encourages us refute those bad thoughts.

My comforters reminded me to think of the good times, to be grateful. Booker’s vet touched my shoulder: “Thank you for loving him so well.”  

I’m Katie Andraski, and that’s my perspective

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