Friday, 24 July 2015

A Physical Grief

I don't find physical contact with loved ones that easy. It is the product of growing up in a household that didn't hug or show affection unless several large gins were involved.
That may surprise some who imagine me to be a big huggy type of guy.
Now, strangely enough, I AM tactile at work and can give physical comfort without any difficulty, but it is a skill I have had to learn and become good at.
I guess we are all products of our childhoods.
For almost every night for the past ten years, a small Welsh terrier forced physical contact from me with all the tenacity of a limpet. While the other animals slept in their own corners of the cottage and as The Prof sat in his own arm chair with a book or with some work, with a need bordering on obsession Meg would have to lie in the crook of my arm, or on my legs or even on my head and only then, would she settle and sleep, with the peace of a baby in her mother's arms.
Like I said..this happened every day for a decade.
Without her my body's muscle memory feels bereft and strangely unsettled.....and last night I found myself holding a cushion under my arm, as if Meg was still around, still and asleep in her usual spot.
Grief is an odd experience.....and the physical grief for a needy little dog in a person who doesn't find touch that easy is odder still.....

69 comments:

  1. I feel emotional today John and you have touched a nerve with me. I so wish you didn't have to go through all this. Would it help if you changed the position of the bed around to break the cycle of an old routine? x

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  2. hold onto that cushion a while longer.

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  3. Poor John...a pillow is not much of a substitute and a ten year habit is hard to break. Your little girl has left an indelible mark on your heart.

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  4. I have read about a group who make cushions for parents whose baby dies at birth or soon after. The cushion is made with a weight inside it, matching the birth weight of the bub, so that the family has something to hold. I always wondered if they would be any help but you answered that question.

    Sorry it's so very hard.
    xo

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  5. Whether or not we feel comfortable with physical touch due to life experiences it is still a very human emotional need. Often people fill the need with less threatening relationships. For many it's care of animals and for others it's the trusting cuddle of a young baby.
    Crushing loneliness can be the result of constant physical separation of those who cannot risk human touch and negative isolation can ensue. It can become too easy to fill the emptiness with negative experiences to feel something or consume substances to dull the ache for association.
    It is wonderful that special animal bonds can fill part of this need...even when you have to clean up their "special gifts" from either end!

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  6. I understand this so much. I have one of those dogs too. I share custody of him with my ex and on my off days my lap feels too light. When he is no longer living and I don't even get to have him a few days a week I know that my heart will ache for that little lap filler.

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  7. So sad. I think you'll be missing sweet Meg for some time to come. Glad the cushion helped a wee bit. X

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  8. She taught you the value of touch, and a need for it.

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  9. Even I miss Meg..I dobut the fluffiest silkiest pillow will make up for Meg's sweet physical touch

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  10. Aww what a beautiful post about love. You touch my heart.

    Julie Q

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  11. Oh John, I feel for you. I so miss our cats too. I still sleep with my one leg bent up for a cat that is no longer there.

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  12. Are you sure one of the other pups wouldn't like to fill her spot ? Maybe they thought that spot was hers and wouldn't intervene? Invite them one at a time for a few days and see what happens?

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    1. George, winnie and William are big fidgets......so unlike meg

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  13. We had one cat who had spent twenty years sticking to my husband like a toffee wrapper. When we lost her, husband sat cuddling a cushion for at least twelve months, I never mentioned it to him, and he obviously had no idea he was doing it.
    Meg's left a huge gap and it will take time for you to get used to her not being 'on' you, but it will happen, slowly, but it will.
    As painful as it is, try to remember that having such love for and from an animal is a treasure indeed, it's a very special relationship, and you were incredibly lucky, both of you!

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  14. Bless your heart....I wish for you soft memories . I know how tough it is.

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  15. You miss her so much John. Just hug that cushion tight & look into Winnie's soulful eyes for comfort xx

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  16. I understand your tactile experiences, I find hugging awkward and my daughter has that as one of her 'grievances'. I, too grew up in an undemonstrative family (and non drinkers to boot) so find it hard to say particular phrases as well, which is odd for a chatty person who also counsels friends/family.
    It's still early days for Meg tho, do whatever comforts you.
    xx

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  17. I totally understand.

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  18. That's understandable, John. She was such a lucky dog to have your love and will always be close by in spirit.

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  19. This is wonderfully written, John and heartfelt.
    You and Meg were in the same boat....looking for physical contact but not knowing how to do it. You taught and learned from one another.
    Yes, hug that pillow closely!

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  20. Oh John, I am so sorry for your loss and your grief. I lost my Schnauzer who loved me like no other and the love was returned - we loved each other like no other. When I had to let her go, I thought I was going to die. All I can say is I am sorry and I pray for you.

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  21. Couldn't Winnie fill the tactile gap that Meg has left? Surely you could train Winnie to climb up into your bed every night and snuggle up but you will have to keep a fanny flannel handy next to your cocoa. Just in case!

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  22. Oh John sometimes life can suck! It was such a special relationship you had with darling Meg xxx

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  23. Our pets do not care what our upbringings were like, do they? They know what we need and what they need and sometimes, those two things merge into the most beautiful of relationships.

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  24. You need to get another dog John - or is it too near your holidays? I am one of those who have to get another dog straight away after losing a beloved pet - I know others who have to wait a long time. But you are quite right - we are all products of our upbringing and we have no way of avoiding it.

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  25. You are tugging at our heart strings again, John.

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  26. Yes, I've always imagined you to be a huggy sort of guy. Funny that. I guess it's because you have a very outgoing personality and the two seem to go together. It must be very odd not having that physical closeness with Meg any more.

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  27. And I'm just one more who knows EXACTLY how you feel, J.G. The memory of beloved little Meg is indelible - for you most of all, it goes without saying, but in our hearts too.

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  28. Hold the pillow or whatever. You cannot find a replacement because no two creatures are exactly alike, emotionally or tactically. Can you imagine how forlorn Meg would be if you had passed, you wouldn't want her feeling like you do now.
    Not sure I'm making sense today.
    Hugs X

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  29. Like you, John, my family did not hug easily. We'd give each other a kiss hello or good night or good-bye, but it was usually quite quick and accompanied with an uncomfortable air. We simply were not physically demonstrative.

    I am much more huggy now that I've ever been and even now i'm not usually the first to initiate the hug, although that's slowly changing.

    I remember reading more than once how someone--typically a mother's--arms would ache to hold her loved one. I always thought it an exaggeration until orange tabby Jim went missing. My arms really did ache wanting to hold him again. He would jump up into my lap, lean back, and know i'd hold him in my arms to keep him from falling. No matter what he interrupted. And, he was never wrong.

    My sense is that Meg knew that about you. If she reached out to touch you, you would not shoo her away, you wouldn't let her fall, and you didn't.

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  30. Oh God, George ... I know how you feel. I know that empty side of the bed feeling, that void where there should be a warm body feeling.
    My husband died a year and a half ago and I still suffer from that grief .. there are days when I just sit and mourn as if he died yesterday and there are days that I can get through the entire day without weeping. Of course, I am sitting here weeping now .. but I know how you feel. The "comfort" of time comes along and you stop feeling that void, you can at least think about things without tears or at least without sobbing. Little Meg was happy with you, she was loved and knew it. She didn't dread or fear death like humans do .. she just went to sleep. We are the ones who are left to mourn when our sweet pets die. My 12 year old Standard Poodle died while we were living in Buenos Aires. I felt as if I had lost a child. He made everything easier .. he was our Ambassador of Good Will in a new country , a city where people love dogs. I still imagine he is lying on the floor by my side of the bed. Now with my husband gone, that bed is loaded with memories that I have to tiptoe through.
    Sending hugs ...

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    1. I am sending you big hugs too xxx

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  31. Its amazing that animals can touch us in ways humans cant. Thank god for them. Given time, your heart won't hurt as much, but you'll never forget her.

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  32. Dogs are funny, how reassured they are by bodily contact -- doubtless never suspecting how reassuring they are to us!

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  33. I've had one or more dogs cuddled up next to me in bed for the past 40 years. In the not too distant future, there will be none. I can't even imagine what that will be like. I'm a big bear hugger, don't know why. My new daughter-in-law was like a light touch of her hand on the back for a hug - and distant. I just keep hugging her and the last time she was here, I kissed her goodbye on the mouth. She's getting used to me I think. It is like shaking hands with someone who only barely touch your hand. Kind of strange to me. I just don't understand.

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  34. Our family was not physically demonstrative, either. When our first cat (of our marriage) died, I was beside myself with the physical grief. She was a snuggly cat, always up on my lap or legs or beside me. I missed the touch of her, and missed patting her, so much.

    I have not felt anything like it since. It was a physical ache and a physical mourning that took awhile to pass. You write about it so well. Wishing you comfort and peace.

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  35. Your words are 'touching' so many... This is the first time I have ever commented on your blog... You are a very special man. Xxx

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    1. Thank you for visiting x

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  36. Well thanks tons old boy you just reduced me to a crying mess.

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  37. Awwwwwww John, I shed a tear after reading that <3. X x x

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  38. Sitting with my own 'good old girl'. Shed tears for you and Meg and all dog owners who truly understand. The gap is real. The memories are so much more. How wonderful to be so linked to your pet.

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  39. I'm not a hugger, I prefer my human communication via a polite note....telegram.....the medium of dance....but I happily snog my dogs....

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  40. Keep hugging the cushion as long as you need it John. I know how you feel, I actually used to think I could see and feel one of my cats and still can't bear to talk about Kitty.
    Have a virtual hug from me.
    Briony
    x

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  41. Oh bless, I'm sorry I can't offer anything more than a cyber hug from afar xx

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  42. The lost is real. I am so sad for You and Meg.
    I look at Watson and wonder how long we have.

    cheers, parsnip

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  43. I know how you feel. I've been there and you will always miss that love and devotion. My current Ms. Gracie is a foot of the bed sleeper and is probably the least affectionate Siamese cat I have owned. She has been a little more loving of late. I'm scared I may have some terminal illness, or she may be reading my mind about maybe adopting another cat!

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  44. No words, no matching stories, just hugs, lots of hugs from someone who knows exactly how you are feeling. Xx

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  45. I know what you mean and I am not necessarily talking about a furry animal or anyone I have ever touched.x

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  46. dogs really are human's best friend.. I'm sorry she's gone.. I'm sure she's alright, as well you'll be in time too

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  47. My family did not hug. Or kiss. Or demonstrate affection easily or well.
    It was a cat who educated me. And I miss him still.
    Aching for you, aching with you.

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  48. Thank you all for your comments and stories.....its a bit irritating that im writing this kinda blog again.....

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  49. You suffered a loss and sometimes things just need to be said. xx

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  50. I'd have been surprised if the loss of Meg didn't come back and floor you every now and then. I think Meg did a great job with you teaching you about a special kind of love that needs no words.
    Have a good holiday. Bet you will be glad to get back home to your dogs. x

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  51. A beautifully written expression, John.
    My family was like yours, without the gin.

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  52. Don't be irritated John ... it lies heavy on your heart and speaking about it helps .... "Give sorrow words " ...

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  53. I know the feeling exactly. I now have two non-snuggly dogs (very devoted and fun but not touchy-feely) and my hands and heart ache for my needy GWPs to come back to me. It's been three years since my last snuggly one died, and I still miss her closeness every day. (((John)))

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  54. Sometimes you express feelings I thought no one else but me felt.
    Bless.
    Jenny

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  55. From another non touchy feely type, I do feel for you in your continued grief. Just when you think it's on the wain it strikes you at the most unexpected of times. Chin up.

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  56. Definitely not irritating. Completely and utterly understandable!!!

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  57. Missing my old dog also now. Tears. he slept on my bed for many years.

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  58. So sorry for your loss...

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  59. I'm so sorry for you loss. I wish I had the words to make it better.

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