Grieving for "Hope"

How do I grieve for a dog
How do I get over my sadness about a dog's death
How do I get over the regret for my negligence that made it worse
And the wondering...
   should I have cancelled that meeting,
   tried harder to warm her up
She needed something more intensive
I know that now

I realize...
I have not known death
I have not known grief
And if it hurts this much for a dog
How much more must it hurt for a person

I facilitate grief support groups
I help teens have a place to work through their pain
And they say it helps
But...I have no idea what I'm talking about

That day, I really felt it
The realization that death is awful
We were not meant for death
It is foreign
It is horrible

I didn't want to deal with her body
Touching it
Feeling her cold
Feeling her stiff
   Was so hard
She wasn't supposed to be that way
And she was heavier
(oh, that's where the term "dead weight" comes from)
And I didn't want to be alone picking her up
Putting her into that bag

I thought
If someone else was me
And I was helping them
I could have done it better, easier
But just me
It was so hard

Now, I am still so reminded
I "see" her everywhere
At first it was hearing her barking and whining
(And I realize...all those times I thought she was barking and whining, weren't always her)
And then I see...the things yet to "clean up"
   the towels
   her box outside
   the cardboard bits
   the plant and flower bits
   (that day she was so 'puppyish')
   mopping--suddenly seeing paw prints on the bathroom floor

And then the memories
The way she would walk in circles on her towel before laying down
Day 2--how weak she was, head hanging, almost falling over, falling asleep
How she started to respond, look for me, want to come to me
The last night...wanting to come out, sick, wanting to be close, enjoying her head pat
And most painful, finding her that morning...

I'm so sorry I forgot about the bucket
I didn't know it would be so bad
I wonder how long you were there
What panic it must have been...stuck
How cold it must have been laying there

And that was the last straw
Your already weakened body
A couple of days of diarrhea
Did you eat anything at all that last day?
   Pretty much only your own poop
Too weak
Too cold
Too traumatized
And in the end you died

I didn't think I could come to so care for a puppy!
I didn't think I would so LOVE a puppy, so fast
I didn't think it would hurt this much
I don't understand it at all

And I don't know what my theology regarding animals is
But I find myself hoping I will someday see you in heaven
Where all is made right
Where all is forgiven and understood
I hope you know I tried
I hope you know I'm so sorry that I missed that one all important part!

I wonder how long I'll think about you
I wonder if I'll cry for you for more days than I knew you
I wonder what the deeper meaning is in all of this
Why God had you come into my life
I think I can see part of the picture

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