Losing a pet and a family member in recovery

Anyone who has lost loved ones or who loves animals may identify with this little segment, written by a former patient at Smarmore Castle.

“I have always had a love of animals from a young age, however over the course of my addiction I was lucky to be able to look after my kids and myself – let alone a pet.

“When I came into recovery my mother gave me a little dog – a pug called Bentley.  I could not change his name as he was given to my mother by a couple in the process of a divorce, however the name grew on me and so did Bentley.  Bentley was very timid. He was lost – a little like me and my family.  As time went on, he became a very big part of our family life in recovery along with Dougal the other little dog my mother gave to me.  Both dogs gave so much love & Joy in return they only asked to be fed and cuddled this was given in abundance.” 

“In the last three years my family and I have faced the loss of my beautiful, kind, and loving mother.   The year my mother died Dougal – the first of our wee dogs died also.   He was 17 years old.  I found it so hard to let go of my mother, the pain at times I found I could not bear, and then Dougal.  Through this heart-breaking time, we had Bentley to comfort us as a family, I spoke with my sponsor and got more meetings than I ever imagined possible, sharing how I felt honestly.

“I had to come to terms with these loses.  Then came anger, resentment, every emotion came to me like a hurricane.  I sought outside help with a counsellor.  After a year or so it came to me one morning as I looked across the fields my mother loved so much, I felt her presence all around me – this feeling of acceptance came over me.   I felt at peace.  On the 13th of March 2021, our little dog Bentley was put to sleep in my arms after 15 years.  We were all heart broken.  These two little dogs’ my mother had given us to protect and look after us were gone.  I felt it was the last piece of my mother leaving me.  Then I remembered that morning standing in the garden overlooking the fields.  I felt my mothers presence again, then I accepted that my loved ones – although not in body on this earth – will always be with us working hard with the higher power to help us greet each new day knowing that their memories live on in our hearts.   For me it was back to basics and acceptance!

“For a while, I had to think about what I appreciated. Slow my life down and appreciate all that I have. Even in the worst scenarios, there can be appreciation. A shower. A sunset. The taste of my favourite food. Good conversation. Love of family and your family pet.  Enjoy life on life terms, even if this can be painful at times.  I could not go over the pain or underneath the pain – I had to go through it, guided by a power far greater than I have ever known.”

Photo by Rebecca Campbell on Unsplash

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