Saturday, July 24, 2010

We Buried Our Dog & Why it Was Good for Us

After Brandy died Friday morning, Renae and I buried her about an hour later. I dug the hole the night before in anticipation that the end was near. I made the hole in a rectangular shape (about 2’x3’) which provided plenty of room for her to be buried without being cramped or contorted; and it was about 3 1/2 feet deep. Renae wrapped Brandy in one of her favorite blankets before I placed her in the ground. I removed her collar (with nametag) for a keepsake. Then I began covering over the finest dog I have ever known.

This wasn’t fun for me, but it was very helpful; almost healing. Placing her in the earth felt natural. It was early in the morning, about 7:30 AM, so the temperature was still cool enough to make the experience bearable; in fact, the birds were still vocal in the background. Renae and I took turns with the shovel so each of us could have a part in covering her. After filling the hole I smoothed the freshly turned dirt with my hands, and I swear it felt like I was petting her one final time. As I ran my fingers through the dirt I had the sensation of running my fingers through her coat of fur once again. Once finished we stood there at her graveside for a long time. I was leaning on the shovel, and through our tears we talked about what a friend and companion she had been to us over the last fifteen years.

We buried her on a five acre parcel of land that Renae and I own; a place where we plan to build a future home; our final home. Since this location will be the place where Renae and I will likely spend the rest of our lives, it seemed like an appropriate place to honor the memory of our pet. Here’s why it was good for us to bury her:

It was an emotional outlet. We were, of course, very upset that she died. We were numb as we drove her body to the burial site. We tried to talk to each other, but it’s hard to talk when you’re crying. But the physical exertion of wrapping her up, shoveling dirt, and filling the hole, was a physical and an emotional release. We felt much lighter by the time we were done. We weren’t happy, of course, but we were in a much better position to cope at that point.

It gave us some closure. Ask any shrink and they’ll tell you how often people torture themselves for a lack of proper closure. Putting the body of our pet into the ground was – for lack of a better phrase – something that felt right once it was done. As I stood there looking at the grave when it was finished, I realized that I probably would not have gotten that type of closure any other way. I still feel an empty place by Brandy’s death, but I also feel a certain sense of completeness by the process of putting her body into the earth myself.


John Wise said...

Ronnie, I can relate so much to what you and Renae went through with the loss of your dog Brandy. In 1999 we had a Cocker Spanial named Buffy. She was 16 y/o and had lived with us since a puppy. She started having strokes about 2 months before she died. One night I was home alone with her when she had what turned out to be a fatal stroke. I immedeatly called her Vet. and he told me just to try to make her as comfortable as possible. I sat on the floor with her, next to her bed, for about 10 min. and I also watched her take her last breath. A friend told us to look up a poem called The Rainbow Bridge, which although is sad, it was a great comfort to think of our best friends when they leave us, in this light and this way. Take care. Will see you Sunday.

Ron said...

John, nice story. Thanks for sharing it. I think a lot of people share this similar experience.