Different types of grief
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
― Jamie Anderson
A grief you begin to feel, even before your loss...
I felt that in a way, I partially experienced this with Mo, because although her death was quite sudden, I had been expecting that at some time in the near future, she would either pass away naturally or need to be euthanised because of her age and her past and present health issues.
This didn’t become clear to me until I spoke with a lovely lady from The Blue Cross Animal Bereavement Service. I then began to realise that in the months before I lost Mo, I had thought about how my life would change when she was no longer here and this actually left me with terrific feelings of guilt after she died.
I thought back on when our beautiful big black mare, Parry had been euthanised some years before, and could see that I had already begun to grieve from the minute we had made the decision and had contacted the vet.
If you know that you are going to have to say goodbye to your horse on a particular date, you are very likely to feel a loss, even though your beloved horse is still alive. This can be incredibly painful. When we did set the date for our mare Parry to be put to sleep, I felt overwhelmingly distraught. I hated the fact that everyone else at the yard was still carrying on with their daily business and couldn’t be around them. I would groom Parry quietly in her stable or take her to the field and sit with her. Whilst I found the decision terribly difficult to make, I never doubted it and felt incredibly lucky to have been able to have those last days to tell and show her how much I loved her, something I later realised that could so easily be taken for granted.
I have found a extremely good website which discusses anticipatory grief. Please click on the link below, to read more.
if you do know that you are going to have your horse put to sleep in advance, and you are struggling with your feelings, there is a service offered by the British Horse Society. It is called Friends at the End. It offers support to those making a difficult decision and a volunteer can even be with the owner when the time comes or with the horse if the owner feels unable. Please click on the link below to find out more.
Grief you feel when someone else suffers a loss
When someone we know loses their horse, it can be as upsetting as if it were our own. We may share their grief. My friend lost her old pony this year (2020) and when I heard, I burst into tears. I felt grief for her, the pony and myself.....the loss triggered all the deep feelings of grief that I had felt when I first lost Mo.
A lady that I had got to know via a Facebook group for equine grief, recently told me of her experience when her friend lost her horse. She said that...
“It tore my heart apart, not just because it brought back my loss but I also loved their horses. I really felt that their loss was my loss too. “