“Good morning, Grendel!”

When my hubby Matt lifts my Bichon Frisé pup Grendel up on the bed first thing in the morning, she’s so excited she can hardly contain herself. Although she’s eight years old, she thinks she’s still a puppy, and she wags and bounces and barks and creates such a frenzy that nobody who might still be sleeping can stay asleep.

This morning was no different, except that this time, when Grendel bounded onto the bed she was so excited she flipped herself right off the end of our quite tall bed. I leaped to her rescue, throwing out my arms, trying to catch her, but I was one second too late.

She landed smack dab on the back of her neck, hyper-extended her neck all the way back and started shaking. She didn’t utter even a whimper even though I know it must have hurt. Her silence terrified me.

I freaked.

“Is there a doggie 911? CALL IT!”

Jumping on the ground, I sat next to Grendel, who was silent, not making a peep, and hanging out in an awkward, twisted angle, immobile. I started sobbing as Matt came running over, looking to my doctor self, saying “Is she okay? Is she okay?”

I cried, “NO! She’s not okay!” and kept crying, while my heart pounded faster than it had ever pounded since Matt once cut two fingers off his left hand with a table saw (that’s a whole other story for another blog post.)

Holding Grendel in my arms, trying not to move her neck, wishing I had a C collar and a backboard to strap her to, I rocked her, thinking, “Well, if my beloved dog is going to die right now in front of me, I want her to die feeling loved.” She looked up into my eyes, and I thought, for a second, I saw the lights come on in her eyes.

In a blink, the thought of losing her flashed through my eyes. How would I tell my daughter? Oh my God, what if this had been Siena? What if Matt was hit by a car? What if my mother got cancer? What if the Big One hits San Francisco and I lose everybody I love?

The words flashing through my mind in bright shiny lights were “LIFE IS JUST TOO DANGEROUS. YOU HAVE TOO MUCH TO LOSE. YOU SHOULDN’T LET YOURSELF LOVE SO HARD.”

And before I could control my thoughts, I was in a full tailspin, feeling those doors of my heart, the ones that pretty much live wide open, squeaking closed the tiniest bit the way I wrote about here, because this just hurts too much.

Then I pulled myself together. I know from researching my book Mind Over Medicine that when a body – I’m sure it’s the same for doggie bodies – is sick, the emotions you feel have everything to do with whether you’ll recover. When it comes to illness or injury, FEAR = EVIL.

FAITH/ LOVE/ COMFORT = HEALING.

I had to create a sense of calm for my dog. I couldn’t let her feel afraid.

In that instant, I took a breath, remembering the poem Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen had shared with our group of MDs last week – I think she said it was by Waz Thomas – and I’ll probably butcher it, but it was something like “Within every tempest there lies a hole, like a navel, through which a gull can fly in silence.”

Grendel and I were in the tempest, and I was desperately looking for the navel, that still point amidst the maelstrom, and suddenly, I found it – God, thy will be done. And then total surrender. Whatever happens, is for the highest good. But please, oh please, don’t let Grendel suffer.

And then I looked down and my motionless, silent dog was wagging her tail. Wagging her tail. If you broke your neck, you can’t wag your tail!!!! My heart leaped!

Remembering my research, I realized that poor Grendel’s body, in this moment, was in full-on “fight-or-flight” stress response. Cortisol spiking. Adrenaline pumping. Heart rate up, just like mine. Blood pressure elevated. Her body thinks she’s being chased by a lion – and in some ways she is, but when the body is in a stress state, it can’t repair itself.

Healing Grendel

I had to help Grendel induce what scientists call the “relaxation response.” I closed my eyes and visualized Grendel in a bubble of healing light. I sent light energy from my heart to hers. I petted her body and started massaging her muscles. I told her I loved her. I looked into her scared eyes with my hand on her heart. My spirit saw her spirit.

And then I lifted her off the ground, placed her on the bed as gently as I could, and then the impossible happened.

Grendel got up and walked over to her favorite pillow, where she curled up in a little ball, looking pitiful and wounded, and wagged her tail some more while she rolled over on her back and gave me her belly to pet.

I wept as I held her in my arms and whispered prayers of gratitude.

Throughout the day, friends, healers, and followers on Facebook and Twitter prayed and sent Grendel Reiki and healing juju. Siena drew her pictures and wrote her a note that says, “I love you Grendel and hope you can heal yourself.” With her two best friends, Siena spent hours sitting beside Grendel, as she perched on the throne of my Tempurpedic pillow, covered with Siena’s “Old Pinky,” her favorite baby blanket.

I can only imagine that all this love is filling Grendel’s body with oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone,” and dopamine, the pleasure hormone, and endorphins (nature’s morphine) and nitric oxide and serotonin and all kinds of other hormones that fight the stress response hormones and let her puppy parasympathetic nervous system take back over, because only in a state of physiologic rest can her body heal itself from a puppy concussion and some very sore muscles.

Her vet assures me there’s nothing else to do other than observe her. She has been very subdued all day. Definitely not her normal wiggly self. But tonight, after a full day in bed without food or much desire to move, when she ran down the stairs and started barking at the mailman, ate a bowlful of dog food, and got up on her hind legs to do the puppy dance because her Auntie Denise came over to see her, my heart felt lighter.

Permission To Break My Heart

And in that lightness of heart, I reminded myself that I have given Grendel permission to break my heart, just like I’ve given it to so many other people I love. And that yes, life is dangerous, and love is scary, and there’s oh so much to lose.

And yet, what’s the alternative? Building iron walls nobody can get through? Defending yourself like a fortress against love? Making yourself numb so it doesn’t hurt if your puppy dies in a freak excited-morning-ritual bed accident? Missing out on the overflowing buoyancy and bubbling joy and heart-opening experience of intimacy, connection, and unconditional love?

Nope. Not for me, thank you very much.

Instead, I’m gonna snuggle up with my pup, and thank God that she seems to be okay in this moment, and trust that all will be as it should, and appreciate her right here, right now, because I never know when I might lose her – or Siena… or Matt… or anyone else I love.

What About You?

Are willing to live dangerously and let yourself love fully, even when love – and the world – is so unsafe?

Tell me what you think.

Counting my blessings and loving every face lick,

GRENDEL UPDATE 6/18/2012

I wrote this post five days ago, and yesterday, on Father’s Day, after steady daily improvement since the fall, Grendel woke up in respiratory distress. We rushed her to the vet ER, where the vets gave her the full court press. At first they thought she was in heart failure from chronic valvular heart disease. But treatment for heart failure didn’t help her at all. Then they found a pericardial effusion (fluid around her heart) that they thought was causing cardiac tamponade, restricting her heart from working properly. So a specialist came in and drained the fluid around her heart. But that didn’t help either. Her breathing became progressively labored.

Then they found two tumors in her liver and anemia that suggested she had been anemic for a while. Her lungs were full of what they believed to be blood. Her blood work showed that her organs were all failing. While I was with her, authorizing each step of the workup and treatment, hoping against hope that the vets would find something treatable, Grendel went into cardiac arrest. Earlier in the day, Grendel had been in her oxygen incubator, pawing at the glass door like she wanted to come home with me, but just before she coded, she gazed into my eyes and looked so tired and done, just like my father looked when he died from a brain tumor. I gave the vets permission not to resuscitate her. She died in my arms at 6:08pm last night.

They think her death had nothing to do with the fall but is the result of some chronic illness, probably cancer, that has been brewing for a while. If anything, they think the fall might have been caused by an underlying disease that led her to lose her balance. Me – I’m not sure I buy it. She seemed so healthy until the fall, but the vets can’t explain her death as the result of trauma. In the end, I just have to believe it was Grendel’s time. If she wasn’t going to go one way, she was going to exit in another. And because I gave her permission to break my heart, I just have to keep my heart open and let her go. Grief comes in waves, and all you can do is ride them…

LISSA’S FAMILY UPDATE 6/19/2012

The night Grendel died, we buried her in our backyard with the 13 tennis balls she loved (which we collected from all over the house), her teddy bear, a bunch of flowers, and the urn containing the ashes of Ariel, the 16 year old Bichon Frisé pup I lost the same week I lost my father, whose death I’ve never fully grieved. Ariel and Grendel weren’t exactly BFFs in this earthly life. Ariel ruled the roost and then this yappy, spastic whippersnapper, two pound Grendel puppy came in and tried to take her place as alpha dog (which Ariel finally conceded to her). But Grendel ADORED Ariel – absolutely worshipped the ground she walked on. So it comforts me to know her body is not alone as it returns to this earth, that Ariel is there with her, and we can visit the reminder of her any time we want in our own backyard.

The ceremony was lovely. My friend Tricia led the service, with beating drums and chiming bells and wild wailing that muffled our sobs. Siena plaintively wailed, “GRENDEL, GRENDEL, GRENDEL” as only a child can cry, without holding back or fearing that her grief will overtake her and swallow her the way I do. I have trouble leaning into it. It feels so dark and desperate and empty and painful, like the cavity in your mouth after they pull a wisdom tooth. But Siena’s wide open grief gave me the courage to fall into the black hole bravely, and because I did, I’m already beginning to see the light, knowing the only way to heal from grief is to go straight through its middle.

After the funeral, Siena wrote a note to the fairies and left it in the fairy house her 6th grade buddy at her Waldorf school made for her, where she and the fairies regularly communicate back and forth through letters. The note said, “I love you to the fairies. Grendel has died. You might find a new 8 year old dog. Her name is Grendel. She was my dog. Tell the little fairies that dog is Siena’s and her name is Grendel, and Grendel and Siena love you. Love, Siena and Grendel.”

The fairies responded with a soulful letter expressing their deep sadness for Siena’s loss but their abundant joy at the fact that they found two white dogs frolicking in the meadow with 13 tennis balls and a teddy bear, and the young fairies were blissed out, playing with the newest puppy fairies in Fairyland. (Siena knows about heaven, but she thinks Fairyland sounds even better, so she’s delighted that’s where Grendel and Ariel wound up. We’re happy to let her think so…)

That was all Siena needed. She still misses Grendel, but she’s so happy for Grendel that she seems willing to let go of her own needs and thoughts about how much she misses her. Me, on the other hand, I cry every time I walk in the door and spastic, freaky Grendel isn’t there barking, jumping, wiggling her body like she hasn’t seen me in years, (even though it’s only been 10 minutes since I walked outside) and demanding for me to drop everything to make her the center of my world, if only for a moment. Normally stoic Matt is teary too. We’re hugging a lot. Grendel was our first baby together. His tenderness and presence reminds me why we suffer the sometimes cloying experience of trying to merge our lives with a life partner, when both of you are constantly changing. When the bottom drops out, no words are needed. The love is permanent, even though life isn’t.

Even though we’re in a lot of pain, both Matt and I are finding that, in the tempest, we’re able to access the still point – the hole, the navel, where the gull can pass through in silence. We can find it in meditation and prayer, where the Universe lights my Inner Pilot Light and reminds me that life is precious and whole, even amidst loss. We can access it through the portal of gratitude, sharing happy memories of Grendel and calling upon how lucky we were to have loved her, rather than dwelling in how unfortunate it is to have lost her. We can rest in the knowing that it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved it all.

We will wait a little while, to grieve, to honor, to avoid the temptation to mask our pain with busyness and distraction, but we were already planning to find another puppy soul to love (we wanted to give Grendel a friend.) A new doggie to bring to the family will be forthcoming, when the time is right and when we find the dog that whispers to us. And when we do, we will give that dog permission to break our hearts all over again, knowing that it is guaranteed to come full circle, from the joy of new life to the pain of loss. And we will revel in the feeling of being radically alive, knowing that tears come from both because the feelings themselves are not so different – joy and pain both being access points to the divinity within us and within each other.  Both rock us out of the numbness we can fall into when we forget what it feels like to be radically ALIVE. And isn’t that what we’re here on this earth to feel – the full range of the human experience, in all its nooks and crannies and black holes and light beams?

Yes… oh yes. I’m in. Both feet. Riding the waves up and down, while trying to plant both feet on Mama Earth, whose life force sustains me and grounds me and keeps me from spinning out when tragedy strikes or bliss leaves me floating. Someone once asked me to choose – smooth sailing or choppy waters? I choose choppy waters. Not that life can’t have ease and flow, but if we all seek only smooth sailing, we’ll be too afraid to leave the safety of the harbor. Yet that’s what boats are meant to do – not to seek out safe harbors and rest with furled sails, but to glide across the ocean, waves and all, knowing that if a storm comes, you will weather it – or not – and all the while, there will be a stillness within, always yours to find.

Bless you all for your love in the comments here. You have brought forth many healing tears as I read each one, and your words sustain me.

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87 Comments

  1. shanna

    Oh Lissa! This is heartbreaking! I am so, so sorry for your loss. I recently lost my Frenchie after a year-long battle with cancer. And now, my other French bulldog has a serious spinal condition + recent injury.

    When I had to say good-bye to Lola (https://jackmovemag.com/2012/03/25/love-loss-and-learning-to-be-human/) it was up there with one of the hardest, but most loving things, I have done. The only thing that has helped sooth my heart and soul is time and reflection.

    You and your family are in my thoughts.

    Reply
    • mb

      OH – OH – OHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhh . . . my heart breaks for you . . . been there
      so many times now with beloved kitties . . . Not a single one of them is REALLY gone. They will always be with me. . . and your beloved Grendel with YOU . . . but
      OHHHH, the MISSING is still there and always will be, too. Be very, very gentle with
      yourself. . . hold onto her in your heart . . . no one and nothing can take her away
      from there.

      Hugging,
      mb

      Reply
    • Gwen

      Sending loving thoughts to you and your family Lissa xox
      This so brought me back to losing our Pearl on 24 March this year. We all still miss her dearly and still can’t believe she has left us.
      I hope you are taking really good care of you in your time of loss.
      Love and light my friend
      xoOOox

      Reply
  2. Rosemary Hannan

    Hi Lissa, I’m trying to hold back the tears right now and am broken hearted for you…although I never met you, or your darling Grendel. Since I was a child I have loved animals just as much as I love my nearest and dearest and have been surrounded by them all my life. Right now we have two dogs and four cats …all rescue animals…and I know exactly what you mean about allowing them permission to break your heart. Like you I worry about losing each one of them like we have had to bury so many of our furry friends in the past…that’s the only downside to animals…they live such short lives. But they are worth every single crack, cut and rip of our hearts. Thinking of you and sending lots of love, light and healing your way.
    Rosemary

    Reply
  3. Rosa

    My heart is weeping for your loss…and at the same time, has grown a bit at the message you have infused in your blog. Thank you for so authentically sharing your life with everyone, in the hopes that your message resonates with them…and i know it does that for me….always…and at the perfect time.

    I have no doubt Grendel knew she was loved, and knew the love she brought into your lives. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Reply
  4. Meagan

    This brought tears to my eyes, not only out of sadness for your loss, but also out of the divine lessons we learn through such experiences. Blessings to you and your family for finding beauty in the grief! <3

    Reply
  5. Lisa

    This is just absolutely beautiful and heartbreaking from beginning to end. 6 years ago, a friend of mine was dog sitting for 2 adorable pups and while in her care one of them escaped from the house and was killed by a car. She was devastated (as was the owner, though she felt so bad for my friend and did not blame her) and I remember that night squeezing my little Pookie (4 year old mini-dachshund) and feeling grateful for her and not being able to imagine what the owner and my friend were going through. A month later, Pookie was hit by a car and killed while I was away in Minnesota visiting family while in the care of my husband (who loved her so much). It was one of the hardest things we have ever been through. She was our little angel, and even though the sadness and grief come up from time to time (like right now), I know that she only wanted to be on this earth for a short time.

    Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry for your loss and send you so much love as you continue to say “good bye” to your Grendel.

    Sincerely,
    Lisa Beck

    Reply
  6. Joy

    Hi Lissa,

    I teared up as I read, thinking of all of the love I have experienced, the moments I thought perhaps I wanted to numb my heart because loss hurt but how lovely it is to *feel* the full experience and the expansion and peace it leads to…I could feel your essence in your words…an invitation to embrace love and life and all that is in it. Thank you for allowing the connection through sensitivity and vulnerability to appreciation and gratitude…what a poignant reflection in all realms! I am truly sorry for your loss, and absolutely in gratitude for the gift you have shared through your words.

    Reply
  7. Roberta

    So sorry for your loss, Lissa. You’ve just lost an important member of your family. That fall happened as a warning sign for what was about to happen. The most important thing is that you had that extra time to enjoy each other. Words cannot adequately express my feelings for you. Just know that you were so fortunate to have had each other. It’s never long enough.

    Reply
  8. Melissa Harnish

    I am so sorry for your loss of little Grendel… I was so happy reading the blog that she felt the love and was improving from her fall. I still am very happy that she received so much love and attention – knowing she was loved so dearly must have set her at peace. Her little body couldn’t handle the horrible disease that she dealt with. She never let you know she was fighting this disease either, which tells me that she was just so happy all the time she didn’t have time to show the sickness.

    I love reading your blogs, for they make me feel. They make me think. They make me realize. I know I have built up walls, never thought they were on purpose, but realize that I need to choose, as you did, to open my heart up wide – to receiving love from everyone and everything!!

    Thank you for sharing your personal stories – I sit here in tears over your little Grendel. Part of the tears are sad she is gone and part of the tears are happy knowing how loved she was.

    Sending healing thoughts to you and your family. Please know that your words always hit at the right time.

    Much love,

    Melissa

    Reply
  9. Irene

    Lissa, may you be comforted by knowing that all of us out here who you have helped, inspired, encouraged and lifted up are sending you Love, Courage, Strength and Wisdom. Many, many blessings are coming your way. Thank you for who you are and what you do. Blessings, dear Lissa, to you and your family.

    Reply
  10. Mike

    Lissa,

    Thank you for sharing this sweetie – beautiful and heartbreaking! Our thoughts and prayers are with you!

    Love,

    Mike

    Reply
  11. Kate

    Lissa, I just want to send you some love from here. I am so sorry for this hard loss for you and your family, and I am grateful for the wisdom and clarity of your post – all of it.

    love,
    Kate

    Reply
  12. Patti

    So sorry for your loss, Lissa. Sending you a big hug.

    Reply
  13. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Bless you, dear ones. I honestly had no idea when I wrote this and scheduled it to post for today that things would turn out as they do. But isn’t that such a potent reminder of how life goes? We can schedule stuff, mark it on our calendars, and enjoy the illusion of certainty. Yet, in a blink, everything can change, and our best laid plans can lie in tatters as we emerge from the ashes and rubble, phoenixes in our own beautiful way, rising up in our fumbling ways.

    It really does help, knowing all your love, support, and blessings are raining down over me and my hurting family, so thank you for being here on this rollercoaster ride of life with me, and thank you for sharing your own journey along the way.

    Thank you also, for keeping your heart open, even when it hurts so much to be fully present with the experience of loss.

    Hugs and gratitude
    Lissa

    Reply
    • patricia rankin

      All my kisses and hugs. How is Siena today?

      Reply
    • Rosalie

      Dear Lissa,

      I must begin by first saying, how sorry I am for you, and your family, for what I know is an unbearably painful loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers, as is precious Grendel.

      As I read the first part of your email, today, I was holding on, by baited breath, praying that Grendel recovered. I was thrilled, when she began wagging her tail, and, of course, the following day when she ran downstairs to greet her “Auntie Denise,” I was filled with such a sense of both, relief and joy, for you and your family!!!!

      ….and then came the “Grendel update 6/18/12.”

      I wasn’t prepared for this turn of events, in the same email, as I know you, and your family were not in your lives. This entire message was very difficult for me to read as almost four years, ago, at this same time of year, when my world was being turned upside down, on every conceivable level, especially economically, my little guy, Bubba, a Lhasa Apso, who had been my constant companion for thirteen years, became suddenly ill. He had been the picture of health, and I’m convinced his inability to heal was due to this life-altering stress, so suddenly upon us, especially, having learned, since then, how much our “human ” stress effects the wellness of these wonderful beings. They absorb everything that happens to us; they are the ultimate empaths.

      I’m still spinning from this loss, due to the fact, that Bubba was my first long-term experience with unconditional love, on this earthly plain, and to this day, I continue to learn from that relationship.

      Thank you for sharing this bittersweet experience with Grendel, and for reminding us just how “unsafe” this world is, and how “dangerous,” and heartbreaking it can be to love fully.

      I wish you, and your family, so much love, and so many blessings,

      Rosalie

      Reply
  14. Karen Kimbell

    Lissa,

    I am so very sorry for your loss.

    I experienced something very similar in March of this year when I lost my heart dog Kyra (a wheaton colored Scottish Terrier) when she suddenly hemorrhaged. I had no idea that she was so sick. She’d had the best vet care and had, within three weeks of her death, had perfect blood work. Some cancers are just silent and deadly. Although, I have two other scottie dogs, Kyra was the one who always focused on me and loved me to distraction as I did her. There is no other way to love than to love outrageously and dangerously, knowing that you’ve give your heart to break.

    Watch for Grendl to give you a sign that she is okay. It may take some time, but when it comes, you will be the only one who knows for sure, the message is for you. I just received mine ten days ago. I won’t go into it here as this is about your loss and not mine. Know that I understand the pain and the loneliness of looking in all those places the beloved is no longer.

    Blessings,
    Karen

    Reply
    • dogs help

      wow – a sign ! that is wonderful. please share.

      just happened to me. i was lost in Los Angeles and my daughter in her young 20s was on my mind … i was worrying.

      i pulled onto a street to turn around and reset my navigation to my location.
      i looked up at the street sign and it was my aussies name !!!! i felt calm, and wasn’t so lost after all.

      Reply
      • Karen

        Some one here asked for me to share ‘the sign’ I got from my Scottish Terrier, Kyra. She is not the first to leave me a sign that she was on the ‘other side’ and doing well.

        I had mentioned to a friend that because Kyra had died so quickly (overnight) and with little warning, I had forgotten to take a lock of her hair as I usually do when one of mine dies. I was just so upset and heartbroken, I did not think of it and buried her without keeping a lock.

        Over Memorial Day weekend, I decided to clip one of my other two scots. He has black hair (Kyra’s was ‘blond or wheaton color). After grooming him, I swept up the garage floor and looked around and was satisfied that everything was back in order. That was on Sunday and on Tuesday morning, I went through the door from my den into my garage to get into my car and leave for work. I opened the door and flipped on the garage light. I looked down and there at the tip of my shoe was about 8 blond hairs in a perfect curl of Kyra’s hair. It was not dirty, but pristine as if I had just clipped it. Kyra had been gone since March 8th. I knew immediately that the ‘curl’ was a gift and a sign to let me know finally that she was okay and that she was nearby at times. I, too, felt peace. I believe she waited until she knew the perfect sign that only I would understand. Wherever Kyra is, she made contact with the person who loved her most in all the world and whom she blessed with her love.

        I believe that the heart can break into a million pieces and yet, begin to beat regularly and begin to love all over again.

        Blessings,
        Karen

        Reply
        • Susie

          Our animals are so much more in touch than we are. A friend lost her dog Annie, and saw Annie’s face in the clouds a few days later. When I lost my protector Akita, Brutus, she said the same thing, to watch for a sign. I had forgotten all about it, until one day, while riding on the back of our motorcycle, I looked up at the beautiful sky and clouds. The cloud-picture I saw of Brutus overwhelmed me, it was NOT a typical cloud image. This image was like a detailed charcoal drawing of whispy clouds that came together for just a few seconds, and I will never forget it. (Or the connection that me and that dog had)

          Reply
  15. Mary

    I add my love and thoughts of comfort for you loss. Living open-hearted to love is not easy though I cannot think of a better way to live. Though grief is integral to living that way, so is joy, love, and hope. Tears help wash our way to new blessings. Peace and my sympathies!

    Reply
  16. Cindy

    Lissa, thank you so much for sharing with complete honesty the entirety of your experience – the fear, heartbreak, and moment by moment presence of mind – and how you stayed with that and found the gift of shared love and spirit. We simply can’t avoid this if we choose to have pets – the way out is the way through. By sharing this, you’ve helped created a deeper community which holds all of us that have gone through this. Myself included, with my own beloved cats and dogs. They are in my heart forever.

    Reply
  17. Donna Webb

    My heart goes out to you and your family. Having no “people children” of my own, my 4-legged
    family has always meant everything to me. I know how totally painful it is to lose one of these marvelous ones and I can only say that I just look forward to seeing them again at a later time in a “different place.” Surely that will happen. Especially if we keep the love for them fresh in our hearts. Please accept my sympathy.

    Donna

    Reply
  18. Kay

    Lissa,

    Thank you for sharing this journey. In the midst of your grief, how splendid you and your family were able to honor Grendel with your loving concern, enfolding her with loving thoughts, cuddles and tenderness. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Kay

    Reply
  19. Susan

    Lissa, you and your family have my sympathy on the loss of Grendel. You all loved her and gave her a wonderful home. I wish you full and complete healing. Grendel will be waiting for you at the Rainbow Bridge.

    Thank you also, Lissa, for your comments on healing after a loss. I can feel the truth in what you say.

    Reply
  20. Lynda Austin

    Lissa,
    My heart goes out to you in the loss of your little dog. When our little dog passed from congestive heart failure I heard a “voice” telling me… “Your dog made the ascension, and Officer French will be taking care of him until you get here.” “Officer” French, never in my life had I referred to my best bud by that title, which gave me the assurance I was not just “wishfully thinking” the message, i actually received it. The message gave me comfort, didn’t dry my tears, but it gave me comfort. Watch and listen for signs, you will get one letting you know your little Grendel is in good hands until you meet again.
    With much love,
    Lynda

    Reply
  21. Mary

    Lissa, thankyou for sharing this. I sat here with tears pouring down my face, with my little taco terrier, Gizmo, sitting on my lap. Every once in a while you have to think about this, because they give us unconditional love, which is so amazing, and yet we know when we get them they won’t outlive us. It is our job to take care of them the best we can, including being there for them when it’s their time. In the least selfish way we can manage. I love that you were there for Grendel. That is all we can do.

    Reply
  22. Janet

    I had a parallel experience just a few weeks ago, when my elderly beloved cat Calliope stopped eating, drinking water or using the litter box for three days. For three days I kept near her, like you, sending love and healing. She lay there eyes open limp.

    I used an ancient yogic healing technique of sending energy. Her nearly lifeless body suddenly lurched. She purred. In a few hours, I filled her food bowl again as i had often in this 3 day period when no food tempted her. But suddenly she was meowing and yowling as I filled the bowl and fought to get to her food. She ate small meals all day for 3 more days, lapped up water and used her litter box. As if she opted to live. She is still with me, now eating more normally. I carry the awareness you mention of the preciousness of her wee life.

    I know she’s quite old and l am aware of every joyful moment of our time together. She is now especially affectionate and purrs louder than i’ve ever heard.

    Lissa, the yogis say that once a pet experiences human love they incarnate as a human in their soul’s evolutionary journey. I tell you this as it has always sustained me when a beloved pet dies, usually of old very old age. (Yes, I too am ‘old’ and have had many pets). For me, knowing they were all loved and returned that love comforts me. i hope that comforts you in this recent loss.

    From my heart to you Lissa: Grendel learned love and continues on her outward journey. You did your job and she had a great incarnation, giving so much love back to you.

    Reply
  23. Jean-Pierre Ruiz

    Thy will be done indeed…”thy” is you, for you are God and you proved it by channeling the energy of the universe and Mother Earth through you heart. Be joyful!

    Reply
  24. Sophie

    What a lovely glimpse of a deep relationship, thank you for sharing your story!

    Reply
  25. dogs help

    LOVE WITH ABANDON is LIVING LIFE. fear must never be an option.
    with sadness and joy i so enjoyed your sharing the story of your grendel.

    tears came to my eyes as well as the gracious memory of our experience of giving permission to the huge grandaddy aussie that strayed across our life path in the middle of the road, in the middle of a dark rainy night.

    FEARFUL as i was of what i didn’t know then was a 75 pound pure bred grey merle unneutered senior australian shepherd, i stopped and lured his wet matted half lame body into my clean new car and drove home with him.
    after doing all the right things to find his owners … we posted him for adoption through a rescue specializing in placing aussies. had him behavior tested, vet cleared etc and a “perfect” adopter stepped forward. after 24 hours he was returned to me forever or euthanized as the adopters reported him as “human aggressive”.

    FEARFUL – there were 7 kids in our home and a resident dog – i TRUSTED what i knew from the 2 weeks of caring for him prior to him being placed, it was a Bleep of Intuition, a nano second at best; but, i took him back.
    he gained strength, trust, health for 5 years when all of a sudden everything went wrong. i and my grown children took turns, we laid next to him in the hospital kennel. he recognized us and then he didn’t. i took him HOME.

    i prayed fervently to God for the good ol’ boy to heal, i gave everything i felt of love and touch to him.
    his doctor was coming in the morning first thing to see him.
    when he fell asleep – which he hadn’t been as small siezures had started and were getting closer together – i stepped into the moonlight and prayed for God to give me a sign that i would know if this was my dear old boy’s time to go on.

    i went back to lay down – on his twin bed, complete with his pillows and sheepskin that cozied his now very thin self – and he woke with a siezure.
    cradling him close, between my legs with his body laying against mine, his head against my heart i half sat and slowly rocked him through the night.
    in the light from the hall we held a gaze or two and our other dog came and lay with us.
    he siezed all night and the 3 kids came over to wait for the doctor.

    it was time, but he waited until we prayed and each of his family LOVED him and as i said to him its okay to go with God he did.

    FEARFUL, afraid to love again and the uncanny feeling of his presence periodically by my side, i was sure that no other dog would come into our lives.
    but – as our darling little heinz 57 girl mourned and barely ate for months i coaxed her with home made meals until one day on a walk she perked her ears up and pulled like a locomotive to go sniff at a neighbors door where 2 dogs lived!
    she kept pulling to see dogs on our walks, we had our friend dogs but it was clear she was ready.

    that brings us up to date to – the “urgent” border collie in a pound 3 hours away that was brought home to me ( by my sons ) and my gal to nurse back to health and introduce to the world !

    in sickness, in health, in vigor of youth, in nuances of aging, in mourning, in memory –

    we LOVE ALWAYS.

    thank you for sharing your love experience. always, jennifer

    Reply
  26. Candice

    I am so sorry that you have lost little Grendel. What a beautiful pup. As I was reading I was sad – happy – incredibly sad. I had hoped that she would recover and stay with you longer. I lost a wonderful cat in 2007 after trying everything the doctors could think of. Then I had to say good-bye. You are right the grief comes in waves. It still does and I miss him so very much

    Let’s face it this just sucks!

    Reply
  27. Michele

    Dearest Lissa and Family:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I have 2 cats and the love I feel for them is like the love a mother has for her Children. I hope you can find peace in your heart knowing that God did not let Grendel suffer or feel any pain while she was in distress. It was just her time to be with him in heaven and that is the way she had to die in order to be with our heavenly father. Her Spriit will always be with you and your family.

    Reply
  28. Cindy

    Oh Dear Lissa:
    I am SO sorry for the loss of your precious little Grendel- these beings comfort us beyond words and bring us such an awesome amount of joy it is hard to imagine losing that! My little Miss Molly is the delight of each of my days……I remember a story I read about a vet who was trying to explain to an 8 yr old boy why doggies don’t live as long as humans……the boy turned to him and said “I know why- it’s because our job here on earth is to learn how to love everybody and dogs already do that so they don’t have to work on it as long as we do” He certainly got that right. IF we could all learn to love with that earnest and trusting loyalty, that steadfast and endearing gaze and that joyful wag of the tail whenever they see their “humans”- the world would be a much better place.
    Wags and prayers to you and your dear family as you mourn the loss of this dear member.
    Cindy

    Reply
  29. Laura

    Hi Lissa,

    My sympathy to you and your family. I do know what it is like to lose a fur-kid (as my neighbor calls them). A friend of mine just had to put a cat to sleep this weekend too.

    But you are right, the love is still worth it. If we decide that it is too dangerous, what kind of life is that? We can have the happy memories of our pets and whoever and whatever we love.

    Reply
  30. Meghan

    I’m so sorry for your loss, I have been through the loss of beloved pets (family) so many times..sometimes I say never again, can’t bear the loss, loving so much, but your article was so good and reaffirms that its just worth having our hearts opened and letting that love flow…just adopted a little rescued lab that was just coming to us for foster care for a couple weeks- he won our hearts what can I say. Bless you and your family

    Reply
  31. Jacqueline

    Lissa –

    Thank you.

    I have been following your blog for a little over a year. You speak up about the things I feel that I am afraid to say. I know in my heart that “true” love is exactly loving for the sake of loving and allowing those you love be who they are and when they are in your life. No matter how long or short.

    My husband and I took on the care of a colony of feral cats a while back and last spring a litter of three kittens were born in our garage. 8 weeks later one of them was out by our rose bush in the front, crying. They stay in the back normally, away from the busy road, so it was odd that she would be there and not run away. She just sat by the bush crying. Tom and I were headed out to work and I told him we have to see what’s wrong. He picked her up from the grass under the rose bush and gave her to me and we climbed in the car and drove to the vet. She had a big gaping hole in her side and maggots. I just held her, she kept crying. The vet asked us about her, wanting to know how long we had her and when I said she was a feral out of the back of our property he just stared at me for a moment. He looked stunned. So I told him about the small colony and our efforts to spay and neuter and that, obviously, we haven’t gotten everybody. He began to tell us the extent of her condition and that she was in dreadful pain. They gave her a pain reliever and he began to assess her more closely. He and his assistant were very kind in their efforts to explain that this little baby was not going to live no matter what we did. I was crying and I told him we had to do something, we couldn’t just leave her there in the yard to die. We agreed that euthanization was the only course and the most humane one. Tom and I held that little baby girl, stroking her head and talking to her until her eyes closed and she stopped breathing. I cried so hard back home to get the other car and to call into work that I would be late. What else could I do?

    A week later we got a card in the mail from the vet. They wrote inside the card that they were amazed at our compassion for an unknown feral cat and blessed us both for a show of kindness they had never seen before. I sat at the table with the card and cried some more for that little kitten. My “indoor” cat, Chance, climbed up on my lap and patted my face and sang deep, slow purring songs. Time heals, and love is glorious in all it’s factions, joyful and painful.

    I have helped to care for my father as he battled central nervous system lymphoma, finally letting go 8 years ago. I stopped working to care for my dear mother-in-law as she spiraled down into the unknown calamity of dementia, all the while watching it drain the life from her body as it twisted and warped her senses. She passed peacefully at home one Sunday morning 4 years ago.

    Loss is a part of having, as is appreciation, and love is a part of living just as death is. Thank you, Lissa, for reminding me of those simple truths and for having the courage to not only live them but talk about them and share them with us all.

    You are an amazing, loving woman. Thank you for sharing that too. I know why Gendel didn’t want to leave. I wouldn’t want to leave that abundant, boundless, radiant love either.

    I am most sorry for your loss. May the joys and memories of your little furry love carry you through the times of sadness and grief, remembering after all that the ones we love are immortal in our hearts.

    Jacqueline

    Reply
  32. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Oh dear ones, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to read your words and feel your comfort.

    I am beyond grateful.
    Blessings
    Lissa

    Reply
  33. Ti

    So beautiful. I’m so sorry you lost your dear friend and companion. This is the deal I have with Life: You can break my heart and, in return, surround me with breathtakingly beautiful Love. It’s worth every moment of pain to regularly soak in love.

    Reply
  34. Mary

    So sorry… Loving these angels is so hard, since we know their life span. When I lost my two labs in 2006, the pain felt like a fire. I still miss them. Hope time helps healing.

    Reply
  35. Sue K

    It hurts, doesn’t it? SO much. But not for one second would I ever be pet-less just because I might grieve at some point. It’s corny, but true: it’s better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all. Grendel was so lucky to know your love. You were so lucky to have known hers. To not have love in your life–of any kind–just to avoid pain is ridiculous. Yeah, the serrano chile is hot, but it’s SO tasty too! Thank you enormously for sharing this with everyone. You are a brave and wonderful dog mommy. Much love to you and your family.

    Reply
  36. Julie Hagan Bloch

    Please accept my deep sympathy for your loss.
    But I have a request.
    If you are going to post a sad story, PLEASE put some kind of note to that effect in the subject line, or at the very beginning of the post.
    I’ve been battling depression for a while now, and this didn’t help at all.
    I’ve lost several beloved pets as well as human family members, and this hits way too close to home.
    Thanks

    Reply
  37. Anna

    Dear Lissa…I am so sorry for your loss. As I read this, I kept feeling “happy ending.” So sorry your sweet puppy ended her Earthly journey. Know she is hanging with my sweet Lucys (1 and 2) and Sophie.

    Hugs to all of you!

    Reply
  38. Ian

    Dear Lissa

    When my dear old Dad passed away a close friend wrote to me saying “try not too greive for too long but rather be glad that you had him in your life”. May you gain comfort from reflecting on the love and happiness from having Grendel in you life.

    Reply
  39. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Julie, I’m sorry if this sad story triggered you. And Ian, I totally agree that protracted grieving does nothing but cause suffering to the griever. So many seem to think that it honors the ones we’ve lost, but I know when I go, I will want those I leave behind to treasure my memories, set me free, and find their own joy even in my absence.

    My family is focusing on our gratitude for Grendel today- telling old stories, looking at photos, and remembering how lucky we were to have her.

    Reply
    • Amy

      Big hearted. It’s the only way to live. Thank’s for sharing love so eloquently. I am not a crier – but I cried like a baby when I read your blog. Funny thing is, I get so many blog’s, I often ignore them – glad I happened to open yours. I will not pass by yours again. I have become a fan!

      Best to you,
      Amy

      Reply
  40. Jo Bunten

    My dear, sweet, friend Lissa,

    I so loved reading your story with tears in my eyes<3 and then the update…..amazing, beautiful, incredibly sad for everyone<3 Thank you for sharing though! I truly believe that is is a blessing for all of us<3
    With love,
    Jo

    Reply
  41. Mikelle

    Sweet Lissa~ Sending you and your family so much love right now.

    Reply
  42. Crysta

    Dear Lissa,

    My heart goes out to your and your family during this time of real loss. Little Grendel will live on forever in your heart and soul. I too have a Bichon Frise that lights up my world with joy each and every day so I can only imagine the hurt that you are experienceing now. I lost 2 grandparents (1 from cancer and the other from heart failure) in the last 6 weeks and don’t know how I would’ve gotten through it without the unconditional, unending love from my little Sugar. I’m not there yet, but am working on it. Eventhough I’d like her to be with me always, I know that she cannot. Still, I open my heart to her love each and every day and remind myself to treasure each moment spent together. Blessings to you, Matt, and Siena. I will pray for peace, love, and light for each of you.

    Reply
  43. Jennifer

    How I wept as I read your story of Grendel. You will always have her in your heart.
    Missing her will never truly pass. Pain reminds us that we are alive.
    Here I was thinking how we had a crappy weelend cause my hubby had a stomach flu.
    Your story sure puts things in perspective.
    We need to make every day count. We don’t know how long we have left.
    Appreciate our loved ones every chance we get.
    Your puppy knew you loved her. Find peace in knowing u did everything you could.
    R.I.P. Pepper. We will never forget you.

    Reply
  44. louise

    I lost my big dog to lymphoma must be at least six years ago and I still think of him everyday. I loved that dog more than most people. It hurt so much to hear he had a fatal disease and then to see him suffer and then realizing I had to put him down. Hardest thing I ever done, I cried so hard. I’m crying now just thinking about it. When does the grief go away?

    Reply
  45. Roo

    Oh I am so sorry for your loss. Dogs bring so much love and joy into our lives. I had my dog for 15 years before she started to fail and we had to put her down. She was my best friend, first child and light of my life for 15 years. There is no way to describe the sorrow. But like you said if we close ourselves off we will never experience that joy and love of life that they bring. I am so so sorry. You were blessed to love Grendel and it sounds like she knew she was loved as well.

    Reply
  46. Lesley

    I am so, so sorry. This is heartbreaking. I had such hope reading through the first post before the edit; I had no idea what was to come after. Your account of all of these situations is so touching and delicate, with so much respect for her and yourself as you grieve. I hope that you’ll always remember the happiness you shared with her, even though it will sting to think about everything. xoxo

    Reply
  47. Heidi Durham

    I am very sorry for loss Lissa, I know fur babies have such beautiful souls. Grendel sounded very special. It tugged at my heart strings to hear of your story as I have been there myself.

    Lissa, I believe that loving fearlessly, knowing that you will loose what you most treasure is the only way to live. I feel it down to my bones.

    It is a hard truth that most important things in our lives, the ones we treasure most; is the very ones we cannot keep.

    The rest is just stuff. things, items that can be replaced.

    And yet, we need to ask ourselves why we are here.

    Is it to accumulate more things?

    Or is it to love bravely, fiercely, passionately, knowing that we are all fragile creatures destined to become the dust ourselves one day? How else can we touch other souls and really feel what it is to be alive?

    Perhaps that is all there is to it in the end but I think not. That which we see is illusion, our souls are immortal and infinite, and we are all linked together like the strands of a web.

    Your love still resonates, your Grendel feels it.

    Reply
  48. Tina

    Lissa,

    First, let me say how sorry I am for your loss. Your love for Grendel and hers for you shines through in your post. It had to be very difficult for you and your family to be on such a rollercoaster of emotions, first thinking the fall from the bed was fatal and then the relief and joy when she appeared to be on the mend, only to lose her several days later to something unrelated–my own emotions went up and down like a crazy ride when I was reading your post. Life can play some cruel jokes, or so it seems. But when you think about it, the way things transpired gave you five more days to shower your baby with tons of love and attention. She probably never had any doubt that she was the little 4-legged princess in your life, but in the days after she fell, she got all the attention, pampering and love you could possibly give her and I think that was a wonderful gift you were able to share with her.

    Still, I know how difficult it is to lose a beloved pet–they’re part of the family and we grieve for them just as we would for any member of our family. And it doesn’t take very long to form a strong, loving bond with them. I had a dog for 14 years and I thought the reason I grieved so hard when he died was because he’d been my constant loving/beloved companion for so long. Then the next dog, Bella, died unexpectedly after only 4 years and I grieved just as hard for her, even though our time together was so short. About 3 months ago, we got a puppy, and tomorrow she goes to the hospital to be spayed–on the 2nd anniversary of Bella’s death–which brings up a lot of difficult emotions for me. I can’t help but reflect on the past heartaches, knowing that I’ve set myself up again for the next one. And I also know that whether it happens tomorrow or years from now, I know I’ll cry just as hard and just as long. That we willingly go into this venture knowing that our hearts WILL be broken is a testament to how wonderful the rewards are when you choose to love. I applaud and admire your strength and ability to keep that perspective during such a difficult time. You remind us that the only alternative is to close the door on your heart and that would lead to a pretty sad, dismal life, bereft of joy and those many special moments filled with love. Thank you, Lissa. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Reply
  49. Donna

    My heart is breaking. I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for such a beautiful story and such a wonderful tribute to your sweet puppy.

    Reply
  50. Lola Dee

    Lissa,
    I am so sorry for the loss of your dear sweet baby, right now I am crying my eyes out. I have a huge soft spot for animals, especially dogs of any sort. They live and love fearlessly, and bring so much pure heartfelt love and joy into our lives, then it is over too soon. I will be facing this very soon, as i have put my life on hold to care for my geratric big doggy Buster the Black Lab. He is almost 17 Y.O., very long life for a big 95 pound dog! I have had him since he was 6 wks old, and i feel he is a deep soul mate of mine. He is not sick, just old, and needs lots of attention. The care, love and attention he gets is no less than I would give any human that I love. He still has a voracious appetite, and loves his people, us. When it is time for him to go down, they are gonna have to medicate me too. He has always been so big and strong, it will be like a redwood falling in the forest when he leaves this earth. I am feeling your pain right now girl, more than you know, and send loving thoughts and healing your way. xoxoxox

    Reply
  51. Janet

    As sad as these stories are in the comments, I am moved to read so much love and compassion. Especially amid the rancor we witness in the political arena and elsewhere.

    Even in passing Grendal was eliciting love and the goodness of people who love their pets. Raising us all to a better consciousness. Lissa your story moves us all, as you do so often. You have drawn together a wonderful community of caring persons.

    I want to thank you all for your posts, as it re-instills my faith that I walk among loving kindness, straight from all your hearts.

    Be well all of you. Dare to love without reserve. It’s worth it.

    Reply
  52. Trisha

    Lissa – your article has changed me in a profound way. I keep everyone at bay because I’m afraid of what will happen when the “music stops”. I have a cat whom I love very much but I’m always afraid to love him “too much” Your courage and compassion has moved me to keep my heart wide open – come what may. Love, light and blessings to you, your little girl Siena and Matt during this hard time but please remember that Grendel will always, always, always be with you and no one can take away the beautiful memories that you have of her.

    Reply
  53. Lissa Rankin, MD

    Oh, my loves, you have no idea how your comments are feeding and nourishing me. Hearing all yoru stories of your pets and your bravery and how you are all fearlessly putting your hearts out there, in spite of the certainty of the risk, warms me. Especially you Trisha, as you reevaluate how much risk your heart is willing to take in the name of precious, precious love.

    And Janet, I agree with you. This community fills me with faith in the goodness of humanity, the sweetness of people, and the healing power of story.

    I love you all and am so grateful.
    Lissa

    Reply
  54. Jackie McD

    Lissa – So sorry to hear that Grendel’s time came as it did, but when we love someone there’s never a good way to release them to finality of death. What a treasure the time between the accident and the end. I so loved the lesson of letting go of the fear to feel the love. It’s so worth it.

    I lost my Dad 12 years ago after a freak accident with his riding lawn mower. He spent 25 days in the hospital being treated for burns before he died after a respiratory problem caused him to stop breathing long enough that he lost brain function. He passed 4 days after we disconnected is life support. Those days were so important to our family that I wrote an essay about the incredible family time spent in his last days and only our strong family love helped us through it. The title of the essay is “Laughing and Crying in the Face of Death”.

    The danger of love is always worth it, for we never know when our last day has arrived until we find ourselves viewing tomorrow from the other side, even if you are a beloved dog.

    Reply
  55. Helene

    Lissa, My heart shatters into a million pieces as I look at my healthy pups on the floor, and know the grief your are feeling. I am sending lots of love to you and your beautiful family. Keep your heart open to all of the lovely furry souls that will surely bring you all more unconditional and immense love. Hugs. Helene

    Reply
  56. Gail Herson

    Dear Lissa,
    I am touched by your courageous and sensitive sharing about sweet Grendel. I am so sorry for your loss.
    I am a pet (and human) psychic, often called by people struggling with end of life issues with their pets. I can communicate with dogs before they pass, and after. I help people if they wish to know how their pet is after they pass on, and to help them understand why the pet passed on in the way it did. This brings a lot of solace to the owners, and an expanded frame of reference that is heart opening and healing. In every case I have dealt with, the pet has served its life purpose, and often has chosen how and when they will go. I sometimes have seen that at work in what appears to be an accident. Amazingly, it is often not an accident at all, but is orchestrated by the loving and wise soul of the animal himself, in service to others. Frequently a pet will take on an illness of its owner, again, quite willingly and in loving service. I am in awe of the unbounded love our pets share with us, and their capacity for not just unconditional love, but for the deepest selfless service. Some dogs who have passed on have come to me (unbidden) years later for me to communicate information to their human families as they serve as a kind of guardian angel. We are blessed to have these angels in our midst. You can contact me at devesi@bullsroar.net if you’d like.
    Sending love,
    Gail Herson

    Reply
  57. Terri

    My heart is breaking for you….

    Reply
  58. Dawn

    Lissa,

    I am so sorry for your loss. I read the blog with bated breath hoping and praying that I would read what I read. I feel your pain completely. I have a 12 year old dog I adopted almost a year ago. She looks absolutely fabulous and we keep getting good health reports. However, I am keenly aware that Polly, my dog, will not be with us forever. I try not to think about it and pray that we have many years left together because when I do I can’t bare the thought. She is the sweetest little thing. Everyone in our building and on the street or the park falls absolutely head over heels. I got Polly at a time when I must have been needing to learn how to open my heart to love. She broke my heart wide open not only with love for her but I began to learn to love my self and to express love to the people I say I love most in my life. I was shut down. Polly helped me learn how to risk it all. It’s beautiful because I don’t take what we have for granted. Each moment is precious. She was a beautiful gift to us. I love the way she protects me and is always checking on me when I walk around our apartment. And when she sees I’m ok it’s like her little self relaxes and she says “Mom’s ok so I’m ok” and she goes back to whatever she was doing. It’s a beautiful thing. Loving with your heart wide open and pouring it out like an open fire hydrant. It becomes expansive and there is more and more where it comes from deep in our souls. Grendel’s form has changed but her angel spirit is with you always.

    Love,

    Dawn

    Reply
  59. Lissa Rankin, MD

    I so get that caretaking vibe from dogs Dawn. Grendel was a caretaker too, following me around constantly to make sure I was okay, and if I started crying, she would lick my tears right off my face. It’s a precious reminder to us of how we can be with others (not that we exactly need to follow our loved ones around and lick their faces). But they teach us how it feels to know that someone loves you with morning breath, bad hair, and all the rest of your flaws.

    Isn’t that what we all crave, that unconditional belonging and acceptance? We want it from humans, and yet, with our human loved ones, it gets all muddy with expectations of perfection and the stories of our past. Animals allow us to experience it with an innocence and purity we usually only get with animals and young children. It’s precious.

    Reply
  60. Lissa Rankin, MD

    For those following this thread (and all you beautiful readers who have been emailing me), I just added an update about how my family is handling the loss. You can find it in this post after the Grendel update at Lissa’s Family Update 6/19/2102.

    Also, let me invite you all to tell us your pet love stories. Share your gratitude, your joy, and how much your pet has touched your life. That’s what my family is doing about Grendel and I know it will warm all our hearts to hear what we’ve all experienced.

    Thank you again for your warmth and love.
    Hugs
    Lissa

    Reply
  61. Manda

    Dear Lissa,

    In recent days I have followed your story, reading about Grendel, she was gorgeous. I recall reading your post when she fell, and I was shocked to learn she passed away the following day. I cried as soon as I read it on FB. I understand, I am also an empath, and reading your blog now, I feel strangely close to you and Grendel.

    I have an 8 yr old dog, named Jinta, who is so special to me, I love her so much it scares me. Jinta is my ‘babygirl’.
    She has been with me through the loss of my Grandfather, and my two ectopic pregnancies. My girl feels what I feel, I worry she takes on too much of what I feel. She is an anxious dog, so eager for kisses and love.

    In January of this year, I was minding a friends dog, and Jinta seemed to be uplifted by the doggy company, I heard of another friend who had puppies, I went to see them, one caught my eye, and the bond was instant- so now I have 2 darlings, Jinta the nutter, and the radical flying dog, Jarra.

    My bed is filled with furkids and my life is filled with their love(and fur). I would do anything for my two darlings.

    Recently Jarra was playing with my step kids in the backyard having a great time, suddenly Jarra was laying on the ground, licking his foot. His paw had been severed on a piece of glass, hiding in the grass…it was bleeding so badly I rushed him to the vet. As I watched him being put under general anesthetic for stitches to clean his wound I realized, how much the boy means to me.

    He had torn a ligament, and two arteries. As they say, its all fun and games until somebody ends up in a cone.

    Both my furkids have permission to break my heart, I wouldn’t change a thing.

    All my love goes out to you and your family Lissa, and I thank you for sharing your story.

    xxxxx

    Reply
  62. Carmen

    Lissa,

    I have read your blogs now for over two years and have had all sorts of feelings regarding the many aspects of life you’ve spoken on. But this is so emotional to me because of my own dog and the absolute love I have for Sammy. I almost lost him 1 1/2 years ago in a car accident and since then the depth of my love is enormous. Therefore I understand how incredibly difficult this must have been and in many ways is still for you and your family. With time you will find again the dog that whispers to you and your family and the love will pour forth once more. Until then my condolences and best wishes.

    Reply
  63. Rona Duran Sierra

    Lissa,

    Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your life. This blog has been an emotional read and I couldn’t help but flow with the heartfelt emotion that was so open for everyone to see and feel. My heartfelt condolences goes out to you and your family. Sending you all healing light and good juju to help in the upcoming days feel a little lighter. This is a great reminder and lesson that giving full permission to those we love to break our hearts is what living is all about…Full circle, full circle indeed..Love, Light + Blessings…

    Reply
  64. Anne

    Love, love, love, love, love to you and yours~~~
    Love, love, love, love, encouragement, support, peace and then, more love~. 🙂

    Reply
  65. Debbie

    Oh Lisa, I am so sorry. I know you are grateful for having Grendel in your lifes, and she was a lucky little dog to be loved by you all. Please know that all of your online friends love you and are praying for you in their own ways. The best love is pure love of a friend, no matter how many legs that friend has. Be well, you and yours.

    Reply
  66. letubu

    thank you for sharing… thank you for sharing your light.

    Reply
  67. Michelle Medina

    I am sorry Lissa! *tears*
    I am Greatful you have shared this post with us and are as you so often do, inviting us to feel into our own grief and loss, as well as into whatever wild joy and crazy happiness we come across in this life.
    Hugest of hugs and tons of love to all of you. . .

    Reply
  68. shelley sierra

    My most deepest sympathy. I know loss is a part of love. Thank you, for reminding me of the simple things and for sharing them with all of us.

    Being an lifetime dog lover, I understand the loss of our beloved furry children. My heart goes out to you and your beautiful family.

    Sincerely,
    Shelley

    Reply
  69. Charlene Crane

    Lissa,
    My heart breaks for your loss of your dear Grendel, even though I am
    completely clear that you’re capable of allowing your own heart to break
    …and that you have full capacity to reassemble the shards and firmly
    reattach all that’s been blown asunder once the time for grieving has
    passed.
    It’s so hard to get a read on what’s happening with our animal friends sometimes.
    They can look so strong and vital on the outside, while they suffer internally from
    things we have no idea about.
    Keeping you and your family in my thoughts. Kudos to you for staying with
    Grendel and for pouring out your love to her while she passed into the next realm.
    Please take good care of yourself. Be sure to take time to walk along the ocean shore,
    or climb a mountain trail and feel the breeze softly caress you. Do something
    ritualistic that honors Grendel’s life and keep riding those grief waves and allowing
    your heart to open in that masterfully multiple small deaths-surviving sha(wo/)manistic way
    you have.
    Thank you so much for all that you’ve shared and for all that you continue to inspire others
    to share.
    Peace,
    Charlene

    Reply
  70. Sue

    Dear Lissa,

    The older one gets the more one realises we are only here for a short while. I have learnt that worrying and trying to control things in life just does not work. I have learnt we are here to make the most of living and enjoying what we have. We have so much more than our ancesters in this life. Live with love and understanding of others.
    Thank you for your story. You will never forget the ones you love. You have said that you keep an open heart, yes you feel everything. You have helped me with your story. I have been hurt alot in my life. I have learnt to love unconditionally, and sometimes it hurts. then i say to myself what will be will be. Live and let live. We can only control ourselves and not others.

    Reply
  71. Olivia

    Dear Lissa,

    I’m sorry to hear that you lost Grendel. 🙁

    I am so grateful for my two cats and my dog. They always pick me up when I am down. All I have to do is cuddle them And life is good again. Sometimes if I am having a bad day at work my husband sends me a photo of one of them or a recording of a kitty purring and I feel instantly cheered ( grateful for husband too!)

    I am also so grateful for you Lissa, and your big open heart. You are wonderful, and inspiring, and you make me want to open my own heart more. Thank you xxx

    Reply
  72. Debbie Davis

    Hi Lissa,
    Your blogs seem to go right into my heart. I lost my cat this week to some strange feline disease. The vet said she had it for months, but once the symptoms started a week or so ago, she went downhill quickly and I had to put her to sleep on Friday. So sad. I have also been feeling like i want to go ride a motorcycle or do something with speed. I coundnt quite put my finger on why…then I read your other post about being in the moment, and it led me to this one about your puppy. I am on your heals this week my friend. Thank you. Debbie Davis (VIS)

    Reply
  73. Dee

    I grieve with thee. *HUGS*

    Reply
  74. Diane S.

    Dear Lissa and family,
    I grieve with you for your loss and rejoice with you for the love you experienced with Grendl.
    Life truly is about how to love and give of yourself. When God put us on earth, He had already made a beautiful garden and animal companions to spend our time with. He knew what was best for us. We have just had to spend years of our lives learning.
    I have spent years of my life caring for others…some “others” were people, but the vast majority were my beloved cats. There is never a day goes by when I don’t marvel at how rich in love they make me. I just need to shed one tear and I have several of my furry babies giving me looks of sympathy, caring, and love. This is why I will never stop loving my animals. I will never shut them out of my heart I will never forget any of my furry babies because as I embark on a new life with a man that I have come to love dearly, I pray to continue to love him and his four children the same as my animals have loved and taught me. So as you have lived and learned how to open your hearts to being broken before, I beg that you do it over and over again and again, for with such kindness and love being shown for animals, I feel the world has a better chance of growing to where that same kind of love can and will finally Newtown to fellow humans. Live fearlessly, laugh loudly and often, and love unconditionally.

    Sincerely and with love,
    Diane

    Reply
  75. Monique Kovalenko

    You’re so inspiring. I’m just going to send some more love just because I can.

    Reply
  76. e

    I have been reading some of your posts. You’re a very good writer that knows how to bring out the emotions of your experiences in a very touching and realistic way rather than the touchy-feel-good stories that are ubiquitous and dull. My family has experienced the death of several animals and close family members throughout our lives. I think the first time I lost an animal really introduced me to the reality of death, but in a fearful way instead of in a more understanding and loving way. Having also lost many relatives almost within a period of yearly successions taught me to fear death so much whenever beloved animals also died in our family. I still struggle with the intimacy and I think my past experiences with and about death contribute to my struggles. Thankfully, I have seen that there’s much more to death than what I thought from a very young age. Your writing about it really helps to strengthen those realities.

    Reply
  77. Anon E-mouse

    This is so sad. My party poodle has been with my wife and I for 6 years. He was in excellent health. He is so smart — he is like a gifted child, full of curiosity, always wanting to help us and always using patience even when toddlers tug at his ears. We have taught him many, many tricks and he relishes obeying our commands like a game. His favorite places included the beach, the park, and sitting with us in our laps or lying on our chests at night.
    One day he wasn’t doing so well and we found out through an arduous process of blood tests and ultrasounds that his liver seems to be failing for no reason at all. My wife and I are devastated. The miracle of how we found the “perfect dog” after searching and searching all over was something that seemed to indicated God had selected him for us (we saw an advertisement for him after happening across a taco shop in utter defeat of finding a dog we connected with; he was the last one and he bonded with us as soon as we held him — he was only a few months old).
    But now we feel as if we have been betrayed. Our dog is a member of our family and without him our family doesn’t feel the same. Right now, he is not so bad that we need to put him down nor does he require us to at this point; but that point will come.
    We don’t understand why this is happening to us. It’s seems so cruel. My wife just lost the man who raised her in Christmas of 2012, and our dog helped her cope. And now it’s just coming to a rapid close, and it’s very hard to say goodbye. He knows something’s different; he knows he’s leaving us but he wants to stay with mommy and daddy so he tries to keep his soul here. I’ve had many dogs… but this dog is my favorite. I love him more than all the others. Again, it’s partly because he’s like a gifted child whose flame is being snuffed out what seems to our minds to be “too early.”
    I hope there is a heaven. I hope I can be with this loving creature again. I hope there is a larger purpose to all of this because otherwise it’s just sad and cruel. I stumbled across this post because me and my wife are really hurting and some people say “he’s just a dog.” But that’s not how we feel. We truly love him with all our hearts. He brought us so much joy and happiness and now all we can do is hug him and love him as he leaves our family behind.

    Reply
    • Lissa_Rankin

      I’m so sorry for your sadness. Love and blessings to you.
      Lissa

      Reply
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