Saying Goodbye to Cooper

Losing a beloved pet is an indescribable pain, one that leaves a void in our hearts and aching in our souls. It's a loss that's often misunderstood by those who haven't experienced it, but to those who have, it's a grief that runs deep.

I remember the day I said goodbye to our beloved Coopie exactly a year ago. Although he’d been sick for months, I didn’t expect that would be our last day. I often think about the things I would’ve loved to have done differently. I wish I spent that day cuddling with him. I wish I gave him all the treats he wanted and had let him eat anything he desired (rather than the bland vet-mandated food he’d been on for months). I wish I took him out for a long walk by his favorite pond and let him linger at every shrub and tree. I wish for our last car ride together where he could stick his head out the window and wag 'hi' to the barista serving me coffee. I wish for so many things.

Instead, it was just another day, and our goodbye had to be wrapped up in 15 minutes. In 15 minutes, how do you even convey to this creature how much he’s meant to you in the 9 years you’ve had together? How is that enough time? How are 9 years even enough time together?

I spent minutes telling him how much I loved him, how much I’ll always love and miss him, and what a good boy he always was. I thanked him for being the best part of my life in the last 9 years. I told him that I hope he’ll finally stop feeling pain, that he could sleep peacefully again. I told him that I hope we get to be together again, whether in the afterlife or if he could find a way to come back to me.

The days that followed were filled with an emptiness. A deeply felt missing presence that felt like a bottomless void that I could not fill with all my tears, no matter how much I cried. It’s strange how one minute, this amazing being is alive and the next minute they’re completely gone—no more seeing them grow old, hearing their voice, giving them hugs, making memories with them.

So I write this because grief doesn't discriminate. Whether it's the loss of a dog, cat, bird, or any other cherished companion, the pain is real. For some of us, these animals aren’t just pets, they’re family. They live with us and are a part of our everyday life. It's the little things — the empty spot on the couch, the sound of silence in the house, the absence of their presence — that remind us of what we've lost.

Yet, amidst the pain, there's also gratitude. Gratitude for the love shared, the memories made, and the lessons learned. Coopie taught me about unconditional love, curiosity, and the simple joys of life. His presence enriched my life in so many ways. And even in the darkest days, I let myself think about all the good things he brought to my life and the good times we had together through the thousands of photos I have of his beautiful face. Coopie, I miss you so much.

As I navigate through grief this past year, it has gotten easier. I can talk or think about him daily, and I find myself remembering him with smiles and laughter, rather than with pain and tears. I find solace in knowing I loved this perfect creature with all my heart and remind myself that every time I think about him, shed a tear for him, talk about him… it’s a reminder of how much I love him and how he’s never not with me.

To anyone grappling with the loss of a beloved pet, know that you're not alone. Lean on loved ones for support, treasure the memories you've created, and allow yourself to grieve. There's no linear path through grief; it's a journey unique to you. Grant yourself the grace to traverse it at your own pace. While saying goodbye is never simple, the love shared with our furry companions etches itself eternally within our hearts. If you ever need a listening ear, know that I'm here for you.

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