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December 16, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015, marks two years since Lilly’s death. I remain devastated. It isn’t the all day, every day, kind of grief, but when it bubbles up, it feels just as fresh and raw and searing as ever. On this anniversary, I thought I would share some insights into what it’s really like to be this FAR into the grieving process. Don’t worry. Some of them are kind of funny. This post isn’t entirely sad. And, there are even photos of the puppies — Clover and Tori.

obit photo

Heartbreak Sometimes Equals Cranky

This week has been rough with higher anxiety, lower tolerance for frustration, and many more tears. I woke up Monday morning with my heart racing. That’s never fun.

I’m wishing I had managed my work deadlines better because I keep having to pick myself up and continue working — even though the surge of grief makes me feel like crawling into bed. I have a few more deadlines to make, then I’m taking the rest of the year off.

The Burden of Grieving Rituals

I didn’t write about this in the book — Heart Dog: Surviving the Loss of Your Canine Soul Mate — because I didn’t realize what a big deal it would become.

Here’s a little secret … I’ve let my hair grow since Lilly died. It’s like my private symbol of how my life has changed. Sure, I’ve had it trimmed a tiny bit a couple of times to keep the layers in proportion, but my hair is comically longer than before. It’s actually becoming a bit of a burden when I sleep or when I travel and it gets caught in my carry-on luggage strap, etc.

I’m not even convinced it’s a good look for me, but I also cannot imagine cutting it. So, for now, it stays.

rox long hairI share this weird little detail because it’s important to know that our grieving rituals can sometimes become a burden or that ending them likely will refresh grief in unexpected ways.

Binge, Ho!

If you’ve read the book, you know that I caution against distracting yourself from the grief by merely keeping busy. Yet, there comes a time when you need a break from the heartache.

So far, I’ve Binge Watched a number of TV series in an ongoing to do something other than grieve. The latest one?


No kidding. Serial killers aren’t exactly normal holiday or even grief fodder, but I find the dark humor and suspense kind of consuming.

The Joy of Puppies

I absolutely ADORE Clover and Tori. While they have NOT magically fixed my grief, they provide plenty of opportunities for fun, for love, and for renewed happiness.

Both of them give great hugs. Both are super snuggly (with us and each other). Both are funny and smart. And, best of all … They instantly bonded in a way we’ve never seen with any of our pairs of dogs in the past.

border collie puppies, champion of my heart

border collie puppies playing, champion of my heart

border collie puppies smiling, champion of my heartchampion of my heart, canine heroines

And, yes, Ginko is still hanging in there. We know our time with him is getting short, which renews the grief in other ways, but we’re glad he lived to know Lilly, Clover, and Tori.

Tori, Clover, Ginko 11-10-15 (sm)

So, how is the State of My Heart?

Still broken. Still beating.


About the Author Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related.

I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

  1. I can’t imagine what you’re gone through. I never even understood what a heart dog was until I adopted Gretel. I am not sure how I am going to react when I loose Chester (he’s 13 now) but I can’t fathom a life without Gretel in it. I am glad you have been healing and that there is hope after passing of your most beloved animal.

  2. Just reading this takes me back to all the pets I’ve lost over the years… and no, it never does get easier…

    Hope you’re doing well and had a merry Christmas, Roxanne.

  3. There will always be that fur baby who steals your heart and takes it with them when they have to leave this world before us. I lost my sweet boy Dougal just over a year ago and there are still days when the grief seems as heavy as the first day he crossed over. I think now it will never leave me and that’s ok because it’s a good thing. It keeps him close to me and reminds me of why he was so special. But I live in joy too because I take the good times and share them with a new puppy now. I will always miss him and know I will see him one day racing over that bridge to greet me.

  4. I am a senior. I lost my precious English cocker, Samantha, on June 23, age 13 years, 6 months and 10 days. Her loss was devastating to me, coming just 17 months after the death of my husband. I knew I had to have another companion, and starting looking for a young to middle aged adult dog. Instead, I ended up with an 8 month EC with boundless energy, kisses and hugs. And while Tess is now the joy of my life, Sam’s memory is deeply ingrained and there are “those” days when the grief is just as fresh as the day she left me.

  5. It was three months yesterday since I said good-bye to Rosoe, so I still have, almost daily, spasms of grief merging into tidal wave proportions. I’ve been on the planet long enough to experience many losses, but none can compare to this one. This year’s holiday season has officially been renamed “the hollow days.” Fortunately I have a compartment within me so that I can go through the motions of daily living, and I get positive distraction when I focus on helping others. Hauling out my collection of “Dexter” and other deliciously dark and funny distractions sounds like a fabulous idea. Thank you, Roxanne and others, for walking this walk with me.

  6. In some ways, I think it’s harder when more time has passed, because on some level, we expect that it won’t hurt quite so much, and when we realize that it still does, it hits us that much harder. I love that you state that while you love Clover and Tori, they have not fixed your grief. That’s such a testament to the fact that grief and joy can, in fact, coexist – and I believe that acknowledging it is an important part of the healing process. Hugs to you as you remember your special girl.

  7. Ah, those anniversaries. They’ll do you in every time. Yeah, having other pups in your life definitely doesn’t replace the pain. But they’re a great distraction — and more fun than Dexter (which I also love). Hugs.

  8. Tori and Clover look like such happy spirits! I’m so glad Ginko is hanging in there for you, too!


    Generally the holidays have been tough for me, too and I’ve been binge watching a lot of shows, too. Right now we’re watching Hawaii Five-O. We’ve had days of nonstop rain and we haven’t seen the sun and it’s making it even harder.

  9. Wonderful post, Roxanne… I find that writing down my heart and soul thoughts help the grieving process… sharing it helps others too.

  10. The holidays make it all so hard because you automatically compare this holiday with past ones. I love see pics of your girls and am glad you have them there to give you joy.

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