It is now over two weeks since my old horse, Badger, went. I’ve stopped crying so much. Now it mostly happens during the morning drive to work and in the evening, after The Archers on Radio 4. Why then? I have no idea. Although the script writers on the Archers are causing some angst amongst us regular listeners, I don’t think it is the storyline.
This grief stuff is getting better but I am still very sad. When I look back to the weeks, and perhaps even the months before Badger’s last day, the pain of the grief that I had then – knowing I would soon loose him and would have to make that awful decision- was perhaps worse than the sadness I have now. Back then I had continual anxiety about how, what and when. Now there is a final certainty which is easier to live with. Then, I experienced a mourning of him whilst he was still alive. It was a physical pain, a tightness that was like wearing an old fashioned, boned bodice of hurt.
On the morning I had made the decision and spoke to my vet I remember saying to her that there was very little left of who Badger was. Yes, he had slowly lost a lot of weight and was now thin despite increased Cushing’s medication and painkillers and 3 to 4 small soaked feeds a day. But what I really meant was that there was little left of who Badger was. He had always been a personality, sometimes he was hard work, but that had reduced over time and in recent months much of him had already left.
Last week my partner picked up the ashes and transported them so very carefully. He had offered to do this although, I knew it would upset him. He put the wicker basket on the passenger seat next to him, with a seatbelt around it. The ashes are now in my living room and I have to plan what to do with them. I never understood people who keep cremation ashes and never get around to scattering them. But now I do. Much of me doesn’t want to scatter them as I feel there will then be nothing left of my companion of 27 years.
However, I have started writing a list of all our favourite rides together. Then I plan to take a small amount of Badger’s ashes to these places and free a little of him in each. What is left on 1st October next year will all be finally scattered on the last field he lived in – for a third of his life.
So there is a plan and I’m working through it. But, this grief thing is a bit of a bugger.
I seem to have missed a lot of your recent and not so recent posts and just came upon this. I am so sorry for your loss and felt your pain reading it, but also feel reassured and calmed by your plan to scatter Badger’s ashes little by little in the places that were your favourite rides which I think is a lovely idea. I have not lost a horse. I think that, for me, would be a terrible loss and hard to bear (as you say, a bugger. It really is). I have lost cats, and the death of any companion animal is a hard process of loss and grieving (made more difficult sometimes by those who do not have animals and don’t understand).
I do hope that as time goes on it will become easier and less painful, and that the good memories of your lovely horse and your time together will take the place of the sadness and emptiness of your life without him. My best wishes.
Thank you for your lovely comment. It’s now five months and it does get lighter. The death of any companion animal can be tough. As you say, it can be made much more painful by those that don’t get it. Disenfranchised grief, or not being able to display grief as others won’t understand, is well recognised in the literature about loosing animals.
The good thing is I’m working on an article for professional journals on animal owner grief, hopefully co-authored with my lovely vet.