Lack of Respect and Empathy

Oscar the day he passed his CGC
Oscar the day he passed his CGC

Today was a really tough day for me.  I went to see a counselor this morning to discuss the level of pain I have felt since Ray left us.  I am constantly being blind-sided by waves of grief and loss.  Everyone else seems to think I should have moved on….but, as I was so kindly reminded today, grief is a process…it is not an event.  There is no timeline or deadline.  You just learn how to deal with the loss better as you go along.

Besides my wonderful, loving, supportive husband, our new boy Bubba has helped me more than anything else.  He is young, he is active, he is naughty, and he is wonderful.  I cannot concentrate on sadness when I am working with him.  He does not fit in the Ray sized hole in my heart….but he snuggles up right next to it.

Working on Ray’s book has also been very emotional for me.  Going through photos, remembering details of our time together.  Let’s just say I feel like I’ve been through the emotional wringer today.

And then…..then I get on Facebook at lunch, and I read some woman’s sanctimonious take on animal companionship.  The title of her piece was “Saying Your Dog Is Your “Baby” Is an Insult to Moms Everywhere”.   The title alone was insulting enough.  The article was the height of disrespect.  Her article felt like a slap in the face…..her words devalued my relationship with Ray, and trivialized my feelings.

I have been a daughter, mother, wife and grandmother.  I have a lot of people who I love in my life.  I have lost people who have been very close to me, including both of my parents.  The level of grief Ray’s loss has caused is every bit as deep and painful as any death I have ever experienced.

I did comment on her piece.  My remarks were fairly respectful:  “As the mother of five and grandmother of 13 I can say, without hesitation, that you are wrong. Some dogs connect in a way that is impossible to do with humans. Some dogs become intrinsically a part of you. And when those dogs leave you, they leave you with a grief more than you have ever known before. I am sorry you haven’t experienced that level of attachment yourself.”

But the longer I thought about it, the angrier I became. How dare this woman make assumptions about my feelings/relationships with any family member; furry, feathered or human.  What gives her the right to be offended by how I choose to express my feelings.  I was Ray’s mom.  I am still mom to Turtle, Bubba and our other companions.

I will not link to her article.  I am actually sorry I posted it on my website.  Because by doing so, I become part of her act of disrespect to millions of men and women across the country.  People who may be childless, by choice or by circumstance.  People who might read that article, and die a little inside.  Who will feel diminished and saddened by her censor of their emotions and family.

I will not say what I would like to.  I don’t believe in getting into the gutter.  But I do want to say this:

Those of you who consider your “pets” as family members have ever right to call them whatever you choose to.  Your feelings are valid.  No one has the right to tell you how to feel or who your family is.  Hold your head up, and continue sharing your love as you see fit.  I celebrate the fact you have love in your heart that isn’t reserved for one species.

And to Ms. Broadbent…..shame on you.  Your disregard for other’s feelings is reprehensible.

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74 thoughts on “Lack of Respect and Empathy

  1. Thank you so much for this. I cannot have children, and so, I have animals. All of whom I love dearly, who are my children. Every one that I’ve lost, I had to spend YEARS recovering. Sometimes, I still cry over their loss. When I read this woman’s post, I did die a little inside. I did feel angry, and I wanted to comment as well, but I couldn’t come up with anything remotely diplomatic.

    Thank you so much, for saying something that I could not.

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  2. My animals are my life and my children. I have loved and lost and loved some more. No one can measure how another person feels and they have no right to do it. There are many holes in my heart for all those I lost and I still cry when I think about it. And I can honestly say that I treat my babies better than others treat their children.

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  3. It is so painful. Their unconditional love is so special perhaps because they know when we are sad or scared or just lonely. But also, we don’t get to spend the rest of our lives with them but they spend the rest of their lives with us. I’ve had to say goodbye to 3 in my life and it never gets easier. I’ve held them as they breathed their last. Whispering enough ‘I Love Yous’ for a thousand lifetimes. And it never gets easier. I still love my Buffy as much as I did the day I found her, 3 weeks old and less than a pound – the vet didn’t have a bottle nipple small enough for her, had to special order one. I fed her every few hours. She grew and cried when I left. At 7 years old she went into kidney failure, we think from contaminated food. I will never be okay with what happened to her. So for someone to diminish the anguish, the horror of having my best friend taken from me when I’d lost so much.. it is beyond gall. It was only through the laughter and love of adopting a new ‘baby’ that got me through it. I knew the moment I laid eyes on Kiri that she was mine. She was sitting there looking up at me from her cage with her siblings as though chastising me for my lateness (a look I still get when I get home from work). And 2 months ago when I lost my job and faced losing everything, it was Kiri who kept me out of the darkest places.
    I know how I felt, and still feel, about my ‘pets’. I don’t- NO ONE – needs some sanctimonious, heartless stranger’s permission to love these beings whose light has truly guided me through me darkest days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so sorry for your loss of RayRay and I completely understand the connection you had with him. My baby boy Tuffy left this earth on April 27, 2016 after being with me since Oct 8, 2001 at 5 weeks of age. The hole in my heart his departure has left is unexplainable to lots except maybe you and those that take their dogs in and actually consider them family members. I mourn his loss and the sadness I know will never completely go away. All I can say to those out there that have never made that connection with their dogs is that I feel sorry for them for they have never experienced such love and dedication and mutual respect for each other. Ms. Broadbent shame on you for trying to belittle our feelings…they are ours and we have every right to experience them without having you say that it’s wrong and an insult to refer to them as our babies. THEY WERE OUR BABIES AND ALWAYS WILL BE.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for writing this. I am so sorry for your loss as my heart goes out to you. You are a beautiful person and it sounds like you had an amazing relationship with Ray. I have two cats whom I call my children. They are. They always will be. My husband is their father, and that’s fine. He calls himself “The Dada” because that’s exactly what he is to them. He lost his dog 8 years ago and it still hurts him to this day. He considered his dog his brother and they went everywhere together. He couldn’t even read the rest of the article that woman wrote. He was so pissed. So was I. I left my own comment on there. Thank you again for writing this.

    Ami

    Liked by 1 person

  5. For the last several years, I have asked the universe to help me forgive people whom I consider assholes, and help me have compassion for idiots. The universe has responded by giving me many opportunities to engage with asshole and idiots. And gradually, VERY gradually, my heart has increased its ability to forgive, and its ability to feel compassion. I feel anger towards the woman who dissed pet parents, but at the same time, I feel compassion for her because her heart is small and the only way she feels important is to cause pain in others.
    May all our hearts grow in compassion and forgiveness.

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  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. When I lost my boy last year I cried regularly for 8 months. There is no quick fix but as difficult as it is, it does get better. But some days will be harder than others, and sometimes the grief will just hit you when you least expect it. But what an incredible gift you gave Ray for him to get to experience love and a family. That he got to have a human who considered him her baby. As someone who has been a mother to a child and dogs, while there are some differences obviously, the bottom line is the same. You love them unconditionally, you put their welfare first, and you would take a bullet for them. If that’s not being a mother, I don’t know what is ? If that woman doesn’t understand that, or even thinks it takes away from her and other’s experience as a mother, that is a small, little person with a small, little life. With so little love to give, I’m not surprised she would feel that way. But for those of us with hearts big enough to include our children and dogs in our love, it is second nature, of course we can love that way, how can you not love that way? How lucky are we to be gifted with feeling that bond with our dogs. A bond I can’t imagine living life without…..even though it hurts so much when they leave us.

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  7. I’m so sorry for your loss. That woman is sad and ignorant. I feel bad for her… That she isn’t able to open her heart to these amazing creatures.. That she will never appreciate the unconditional love that we receive from our pets.

    I can empathize with how you feel. It was 3 weeks after my divorce hearing. I do not have children and I decided to adopt a pet. My choice was a emaciated dingy chocolate lab or a beautiful healthy black lab. You know I chose the chocolate lab. I knew that he needed me and I needed him just as much. He was a stray that was found on the streets in Georgia. He wasn’t socialized with people, he was feral. He knew he needed people because they might give him food but that’s it. With the help of a dog trainer for 8-9 months, a lot of research on animal behavior and separation anxiety (which he had in a sever way) I began to work with him and did so for a year & a half. I was told by several vets to put him down because it was cruel to let him live like this but I refused. He was a wonderful boy and just needed some love & attention. Well, he got an abundance from me. We developed an amazing bond and had so much love for each other. You would have thought I gave birth to him myself. I was so in tune to him and his feelings. He was my world. 3 years ago I was diagnosed with crohns and quite ill. Every morning it would start around 4am. After a little while, I noticed a change in Bailey. He wasn’t eating.. I would find him trying to hide whenever I was sleeping (napping in the day or at night). He was scared. He began to associate me sleeping with me getting sick and he wasn’t dealing with it well. Bailey’s main desire was to feel safe. With me being sick, he no longer felt safe. I tried everything I could to get him over this hump but nothing worked. His quality of life began to deteriorate, which was heart breaking to watch. One day my sister called me and said “You know you need to find Bailey a new home, right”. I thought she was insane. I would never give my baby up. She kept talking to me about it and after a while I realized I was saying no because of how it would impact me. I wasn’t thinking about what was best for Bailey. My sister worked with the rescue that I adopted him from and found a wonderful home for him in NH. The husband worked from home, so Bailey would always be around someone. The mother-in-law was close by and would be with him too. They knew about his issues but saw what an amazing boy he was and wanted to adopt him. I ended up “re-homing” Bailey in Sept 2012. I refuse to say I gave him up because that hurts too much. It took a while but Bailey is now thriving in his new home and has so much love in his life. I’ve kept in touch with his new family, so I could know that he was okay. This is something that I will never get over. I know that I did what was best for him despite how much it hurt. I still cry and think about him all the time because I’m still grieving the loss of my baby. It has gotten a little easier but like I said, I will NEVER get over this. My heart hurts and I don’t think that will ever go away.

    You’re love for Ray was amazing and beautiful. The lengths that you and your family went through for him.. to give him an AMAZING life.. is beautiful. You gave him all of the love that he deserved. I’m sure the love he returned was endless. I feel for you and your pain. I cried for you when I found out. Feel sorry for that poor sad woman. She’s missing out.. and that’s a shame.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rachel, you made such a brave and loving decision you made for Bailey. I’m sorry your illness forced you to make such a decision. You did re-home him. You made sure he found a new loving, safe place to live. Your time with him restored him. I think what you did is incredible.

      I also have a rescue fur baby and I know the work it takes to make them whole again. I hope you are in good health!

      Liked by 1 person

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