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Grief: What started it, what the beginning has been like

‘Good grief’ an exclamation expressing surprise, alarm, dismay, or some other, usually negative emotion. Ironic that it has the word good in front of it, even though there is nothing good about it. I mean I’ve used that expression time and time again but for world issues like politics, war, global warming etc.

Bizarrely, the description of this expression is exactly how I felt when my family lost our beloved Lani, tragically and suddenly, but good grief was not the words to use and nor was any word.

The word grief by itself, I’ve experienced before with family members or previous pets. Yet all my previous experiences have come with prior warning, all with a ‘heads up, this is going to happen’. I deem myself lucky.

Experiencing grief when it’s a surprise or alarm is something I haven’t experienced, until now. Your heart stops, your brain doesn’t compute computer says no, your body stops entirely, trying to digest the worst news. 

When my twin called at 5am that Tuesday morning, I answered the phone “is everything ok?”. 

I think I actually heard over the phone someone's heart breaking in two, a happy world smashed into a million pieces.

“It’s Lani…..she’s gone….it’s too late…..we couldn’t do anything…I can’t believe she’s gone, I don’t know what I’m going to do” sobbed my twin.

Lani was a 13 year old, turning 14 this year, Norfolk Terrier who tragically suffered from a ruptured tumour, Canine Splenic Hemangiosarcoma. From midnight to 5am, one of the most precious beings in our lives was taken. No prior warning, no heads up, nothing. A dog that just the night before was jumping up and down by her treat cupboard demanding a biscuit. 

My twin said when that vet and nurse came out, she knew the look, she knew the tone. To actually be told there is nothing they can do and nothing you could’ve done was the card she never wanted to be dealt.

After my twin called me that 5am, I lay in my bed and sobbed, like I’ve never sobbed before. Nava jumped on the bed and myself, Rob and Nava held each other close.

I’m grateful to my family for bringing Lani home that morning, even though she had already crossed the rainbow bridge. When I saw her in her favourite bed on her favourite sofa sleeping so peacefully it didn’t seem as though that phone call happened. Some people might find that a little odd that they brought her home after she was already put to sleep, but after such a tragic night, peace and normality was needed. Something to bring us back to happier times, something to ease the beginning of grief. 


I think holding someone that you love so much and them sob into your shoulder because of grief is soul destroying. You can only hold them tighter and let them sob. At the end of the day grief is still grief, no matter if it’s a human or a pet. It's the emotional suffering you feel when something or someone you love is taken away. Lani was loved by everyone in my family but she was loved so fiercely by my twin and her fiancé. Lani made their home a home, she made the sun shine and she made quiet nights in their favourite nights.

It’s been almost 3 weeks since her passing and not a day has passed that she is not thought about. I think about the traumatic experience my twin and her fiancé went through that night, wishing that it ended differently. Partly grateful I didn’t have to experience that myself, a selfish thought I know.

I think back to all the wonderful memories shared, all the laughter had and the countless names we created for Lani. Her funny mannerisms, snoring snoozes and rat-hunting soul are now memories. The deep sadness that these are now old memories with not another chance to create new ones.

Pet grief is real, it’s hard and it never ends. It gets easier but it’s always there.

To anyone who has experienced pet grief, I give you a piece of my heart, I give you a piece of my strength and I give you my breath (that sounds weird haha), because your heart will heal, the days won’t always feel so heavy and you will breathe live another day. You’ll never forget about them and they will be with you forever through strange but wonderful ways.

In my family we always do a toast, whatever the occasion. So please raise your glass, mug or paper coffee cup to Lani (teeny weeny), the always hungry hippo who melted the hearts of everyone that met her. And to all the precious pets that have crossed the rainbow bridge with her, you guys are the best.



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