Grief

Redditor amiwrongtowonder posed the question, “Am I a bad atheist because I talk to my dead friend at his grave?

I replied

Short answer, no.

A few days ago I had to put down one of my ferrets. She had been a part of our family for 5 years. She fell ill weeks earlier and refused to eat and drink. We made the decision at 2am and couldn’t even call a vet until 8am to set up an appointment.

In the weeks prior I knew this was where it was going. I cried. I pleaded with her to eat and to drink and be a good little girl and take her medicine even though it was icky and she hated it. I apologized to her for not being a better dad and taking better care of her.

On the 1/2 hour car trip to the vet I held her close and comforted her. I talked to her about silly things.

I held her as she passed. I apologized to her again for not being able to figure out what was wrong. I told her I wished she could’ve told me what was wrong so I could’ve made it better. I told her she was going to see her brother soon (another elder ferret we lost 3 months earlier) and wished her well.

At home I still cried and begged forgiveness for not doing a better job at making her well.

All of that, for pound and a half ferret that slept most of every day.

At some point in the process my wife tried to appeal to my rational side. She told me this was the right thing to do. And I replied, “That doesn’t make it hurt any less. Fuck, this is not rational! This is emotional!”

As a species we are emotional. We fight tooth and nail to maintain some semblance of rational behavior. A good portion of us don’t succeed. Of those of us who do we don’t succeed 100% of the time. No one does. Ever.

When it came to losing a loved pet I failed to be rational. But that is not a failing on my part. That is being human. My grief no doubt pales in comparison to yours in the loss of your friend. Don’t think for one heartbeat that being emotional, and irrational, in times of grief is a failing. It’s being human. Especially since you recognize it as such. And fuck all to anyone who would have you feel otherwise.

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4 responses to “Grief

    • I’ll miss her dearly for some time to come. And as much as my wife will smack me for saying it (and thinking it) I’ll second guess my decisions leading up to having to take her in for months to come. I know I will never be able to hold on to these critters forever, but every time is too soon.

  1. Just found your website and I have to say I am impressed. I am still technically a California resident with three ferrets and I just recently had to put down the love of my life, Bagel, after a nearly year-long battle with insulinoma. One of the big reasons why I chose not to return with Bagel to California was because I knew he was winding down and wanted to make sure he had the very best of ferret veterinary care. My boyfriend, who is a libertarian and recently turned me on to Ayn Rand, got a job here in Washington, D.C. and I chose to move with him to keep our fur family happy and healthy. We, too, are atheists and we find ourselves talking to our little urn of Bagel’s ashes. We took in an abandoned 9 year old ferret last week who has just today lost most of the use of her hind limbs due to advanced arthritis. Otherwise her appetite is good and she is alert and playful. We tell Bagel about how we took her in because she wasn’t getting the kind of love that he got and we don’t feel he can hear us, we know it’s just to make us feel as though we are not replacing him. I think talking to our lost pets is a good way to vocalize what’s going on in our heads, because we obviously don’t think they are listening.

    Little Nilla Wafer (the 9 year old) was dropped off outside of a Petco with a note from someone who was moving to California. Rather than do the research and find one of the many ferret rescues in the DC area they abandoned her outside in a heat wave. People are despicable. She is a little ball of love and usually just sits on our laps while we play LA Noire (or when I play Fable when I’m alone).

    So glad to have found your site. It’s incredible to find others with a lot of the same views/interests as us.

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