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

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.

24 thoughts on “How to Deal with the Loss of a Loved One (this one’s personal)”

  1. So sorry for your loss Jeannie. Pets are precious family members and their lives are too short. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    1. Ann,
      So wonderful to hear from you. Thank you so much for reaching out. Yes, they really are.

      I appreciate it – and sending all my best to you and your husband!

  2. Sending you hugs clear from Oregon. Probably Tillie’s eprovessant spirit is still with you, bouncing around trying to get your attention to let you know she is okay and still here with you. I have had six guide dogs and had to put my favorite one to sleep two years ago. She, like Tillie was a self appointed happiness officer; she was truly awesome and amazing like your Tillie. I don’t feel the presents of any of my other dogs but she is still with me; I feel her spirit always. I think Tillie is with you. Thanks for sharring this very personal experience!

  3. Margaret Fisher

    So very sorry for your loss Jeannie. I read the same poem at my mother’s funeral and it has brought me comfort many, many times. You and your family are in my thoughts.

    1. Thank you Margaret. It was such a beautiful way to pay tribute to her, I’m sure you felt the same when you read it at your mother’s funeral. Thank you for thinking of us!

  4. Hi Jeannie,
    I am reading this with tears running down my face. So very sorry for your loss…I know how devastating it is. There was an article written by a mom about her young son and how he dealt with the loss of their dog. This is the gist. What this little guy said in all his kid-wisdom is that it takes people a lifetime to learn to love… but dogs know how to love immediately and that’s why they don’t live as long as we do. Prayers for you and your family.

    1. Oh Jan that’s just beautiful, thank you so much for sharing that. I love the wisdom of children. Many many thanks for your sweet words and for reaching out to me, I appreciate it more than you know.

  5. Beautiful words Jeannie, Thank you for sharing such a heartbreaking and vulnerable moment with us. I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending you lots of love.

  6. I know your sense of loss. Over my life, I’ve been blessed to have many furry best friends,
    and by now, many of them reside in my grateful memories of them for choosing me to share their lives with. Just today, my Sparky was in the vet’s office to see how feasible a tumor removal (supposedly benign) would be for him as he is old and has a heart murmur, but we decided to go forward with it because he deserves all we can do for him. From what you’ve written, I know how special your doggie was to you, and how stunning this was for you to deal with. But you’ve been good for that doggie too, and I’m sure she loved you as much as you loved her. She is not suffering any more and though parting with a loved one is very difficult, memories of your good times together will always be there for you to cherish and savor, and I’ll wager, bring a smile to your face whenever you think of her. Many condolences.

    1. Thank you Tom. Yes, our memories are deep and rich. Her love was amazingly pure and we’re so lucky to have experienced it. Every day was a gift.

  7. Sandy Collins

    Jeanne. I once worked in a vet office and every time we had to tell a client that their pet was too sick and it was time to say goodbye. My heart just broke for them. I had to say goodbye to my Sadie dog 5 years ago she had lung cancer. She was the coolest dog. I miss her she was that one of a kind dog. Yes we have another dog actually3 but the time after you lose them just feels so sad. Dogs just rule. So yes it’s okay to feel scrappy, sad, mad, cry, talk to your dog as if they are still here, wonder if you could have changed things, say you will never get another dog, say maybe someday you will get another dog…just take the time you need and know others understand..hugs..and treats

  8. The purest form of unconditional love comes from our fur family…an amazing gift they give us with nothing expected in return.

  9. Tilly run free once you pass over the Rainbow Bridge. Jeannie, I don’t know if you are familiar with the “Rainbow Bridge”. If not, the Rainbow Bridge is where all dogs go – after there spirit leaves their body on earth. They run and play with all the other dogs that have passed on. Their illnesses and pain are no longer. When it is your time to be called to Heaven, you will stop at the Rainbow Bridge and Tilly will be waiting there for you. Then both you and Tilly will be taken up to Heaven. As a dog lover and a volunteer at a dog rescue, every passing brings tears to our eyes. We cry for dogs that we have never met, and we know the heartache the family goes through. There is never an easy death. Reading your article I did shed tears for your Tilly. I never met Tilly but I personally know the heartache that you are going through. I have been there many times, and it is never easy. Make sure you and your family talk about how much you loved Tilly and some of the crazy things she did – it will make your heart just a little bit lighter.

    1. Paula,
      That’s just beautiful. I have never heard of the Rainbow Bridge but I’m learning so much as I go through this. Thank you very much for sharing this with me.
      We are remembering her and celebrating her life every single day.

      Thank you,

  10. Jeannie, I’m so sorry for this abrupt and devastating way to lose Tilly but know that she is still by your side and at your feet and with you on your walks and runs.

    How very nice of you to share this personal experience with all of us. I’m really so glad you slowed things down to be with your family (and with yourself and your feelings) during this time. It’s so much more refreshing than a “the show must go on” attitude.

    I’m sure some days are better than others. I’m so very sorry and hope you feel comfort in knowing you are in so many thoughts.


  11. Thank you. Our daughter passed Dec. 17 after a battle with NMO. She was 33. A gentle loving soul.
    I feel your pain and can only pray you truly sense the care coming your way. I find taking the time to comfort or
    encourage others helps me. It doesn’t take away the pain, it comforts us. A bird lands at the top of a tree every morning.
    My husband and I noticed it and have resolved in some way it’s symbolic of Tanishia watching over us. Thank you for sharing.

    May you always sense the beauty of Tilly all around you. My prayers go out to you and yours.
    Can’t share a pic. Here’s her page

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *