SmartPak Monday Morning Feed: Finding My Way to Acceptance

In this excerpt from SmartPak’s blog, Pam Groom discusses what it means to come to terms with losing a horse.

Photo from SmartPak

My heart horse left me four years ago. Our journey together was over in an instant. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye, but she was tired and in pain. As much as it hurt, I had to let her go.

I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning, but I remember every detail of our last day. The plan was for my 16-year-old Friesian mare, Zephra, to come home from the veterinary hospital after an 11 day stay recuperating from colic surgery. There were ups and downs in her post-surgical recovery, but the vet was cautiously optimistic that the remainder of her recovery could be completed at home. At noon, I was just about to hook up the trailer and go pick her up when my cell phone rang. It was the vet and she told me I needed to come to the hospital immediately, as the situation had changed. Zephra was crashing. In complete denial that this was happening, I mentioned our original plan that she was coming home but, the vet stated that due to her current status, her recommendation was to euthanize Zephra. Those words echoed in my head.

During the drive to the veterinary hospital, the grieving process began, and I experienced several stages of grief, all at the same time. Denial – This is NOT happening! We have come this far; we are almost home. Anger – several expletives came out of my mouth. Bargaining – PLEASE just let her come home. We never have to show again. We never have to ride again. Please don’t take her away.

The hospital staff led me into her stall in the isolation unit. My beautiful, stoic Friesian could hide her pain no longer. She looked drained. It was at that moment I knew she wouldn’t come home. Anger reared its ugly head again – this wasn’t fair to her, she fought so hard for so long.

Photo from SmartPak

My best friend that took care of me every ride now needed me to support her. I comforted her, told her how much I loved her, that I would miss her, and she would never be forgotten. I had to be strong for her so that she could pass from this life and be free from pain. Zephra took her last breath surrounded by people who adored her and when she was gone, I broke down and sobbed. My heart was broken into a million pieces.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. I don’t have a magic pill to make the sorrow go away, but I can tell you about my experience and hopefully it will offer you some comfort. I believe you must do what is right for you. For me, grief came in waves, some big and some small. I “lived” between the first 3 stages of grief – Denial, Anger, and Bargaining – for a while. I didn’t want it to be true, I was angry it was true, and I would do anything to make it not true. However, it was true. How was I going to get through this?

Read the rest of Pam and Zephra’s story on SmartPak’s blog.