How to Deal with the Loss of a Loved One (this one’s personal)

July 23, 2015

With Tilly at the Cliff Walk – Newport, RI

Ordinarily I write about business tips and strategies but today I’m writing about something slightly more personal.

If you’ve been following me for a while then you know I’ve had a very trusty little sidekick who works alongside me day in and day out.

Working from home is often a challenge. It’s not all a bed of roses, often times it’s isolating and lonely.

So with Tilly by my side I always felt like I wasn’t alone.

And when Andrew and I became empty nesters last year it was particularly helpful to have Tilly right beside me making it easier to not feel so alone.

Not just an amazing sidekick, who often got me exercising in the middle of the day, she has been a tremendous greeter and companion for all of my clients who have come for their VIP Retreats.

Tilly never thought anything of laying at their feet and snuggling them while we worked for hours at a time on their business, marketing and sales plans.

But I’m writing this post today with great sadness in my heart. After taking her on one of her beloved hikes of the Cliff Walk this weekend, we noticed something wasn’t quite right.

That night was difficult, watching her suffer, having a hard time breathing, stumbling to get up and wondering what could have been wrong.

But we dismissed everything negative and assumed that a trip to the Vet in the morning would heal any ailment she had.

After all, Tilly was only an 8 year old Labradoodle. So full of life and endless joy, we had no idea anything was wrong.

Tilly posing for her December calendar shot 2007

We’d gotten Tilly when she was just 12 weeks old. The kids and I had to convince Andrew it was a good idea.

We were ready for a puppy to enter our lives, he felt that with our busy lives, me working at an office and the kids busy with school and activities, it wouldn’t be a good idea.

But after a few weeks, Abby and I were able to convince him that a puppy would be the best thing for our family.

It turns out we were right. The day after we brought her home, Andrew brought her to work and for nearly 6 years she climbed on boats and worked in a ship chandlery greeting customers and their dogs day in and day out.

Tilly became a part of our lives and was rarely left at home. Everywhere we went we brought her and people knew Tilly was a part of our lives.

Every family shot had to include her, every errand included her, every vacation (well almost) included her. She came with us everywhere we went.

So when I started working from home I felt it would be a tremendous gift to have this time with her.

Tilly wasn’t just our dog, she was a family member. The third child I never had.

She had the kindest and most beautiful soul and brought such calm to our family. Just one pet or lick and you knew she was telling you that all would be okay. She was always happy, smiling, full of joy and energy.

That’s why when we brought her to the Vet on Monday morning we were beyond devastated to learn that she really wasn’t well.

The Vet’s exact works, “Guys, Tilly’s really sick. I mean really sick”.

We had no idea, how could we not have known? How could she have been sick and we didn’t see it?

Guilt, shock, disbelief, it all swept over us.

When the Vet told us he’d be hospitalizing her immediately we thought nothing of writing a blank check to fix her up and get her ready to come home.

But later that day when I’d gotten the call I didn’t want to hear, the doctor said “We’ve ruled everything out expect cancer, now it’s time for the ultrasound.”

So when we arrived at the Vet’s office at the end of the day, the Vet met us to tell us that the cancer was throughout her body and there wasn’t anything we could do.

We were again saddened, devastated and in total disbelief.

Next were the plans to help her pass as gently as possible.

At the Vet’s suggestion he recommended that we bring her home to love her and be with her one last night. So we gathered the kids and did exactly that.

We were able to be with Tilly one last night and give her a proper and loving good-bye.

We found a beautiful poem which we read to her on Tuesday morning before we were preparing to say good-bye. It was mostly for us, but we wanted her to hear it too.

Here’s what it said:

“A Poem for the Grieving”

Do not stand at my grave and weep.

I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow.

I am the sunlight on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.

I am the stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there, I did not die…

~Mary Frye

It is still raw and sad but we do know that in time we will all be fine.

We are grateful to know that we had the kindest soul enter our lives at the right time.

I’m slowly easing back to work and know that our lives will include another precious puppy at some time in the future.

But for now, I’m just taking time to love her, miss her and enjoy the peace that life allowed me to have this week to love her and grieve for her.

Thank you so much for reading this. I hope in some small way it’s been a help to you. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

With love,

Tilly on Cape Cod – her last special visit in her most favorite place.
Jeannie Spiro: Business Coach & Strategist

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