Navigating a New World

By PiperBayard

Grief burns my heart. The friction of Time dragging me through its currents, away from my beloved companion.

The barest bloodstain remains in the cracks of the floorboards. A primal testament to her existence. A proof to my disbelieving mind that the only way out was death. I must accept this.

I thought the house would be quiet, but instead, it is loud with the sounds that were masked by her breathing, raspy with the cancer that ate toward her brain. The ticking of my favorite clock; the babble of the fountain on the landing; the gentle creaks of an old house offering me comfort. None of those are as beautiful as was the sound of her life.

Outside, I see her tracks through the snow. A whisper from the forever lost world of only yesterday. The world where she lay under my desk as I typed, careful to avoid disturbing her, because dogs train us that way. That whisper is already fading in the sunshine of today, and the melting snow abandons me to this new world and its uncertainties.

Who will I be without her?

I take out my toolbox labeled, “Moving On.” (There’s no such thing as “Getting Over.”) Inside, I find tears, pen and paper, long walks, good friends, and solitary afternoons on the back porch swing, listening to the lessons of the wind.

Maybe some day, my pack will expand to embrace another, but for now, there are only ghosts, and a profound sense of gratitude.

Daisy ~ September 1, 2004 ~ February 7, 2012

What are the tools that help you move on?


94 comments on “Navigating a New World

  1. K.B. Owen says:

    Piper, I am more sorry than words can express. I know this just rips your heart out. Hang in there, hunny.

  2. Stacy Green says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Losing a pet is so hard, as they are our children. As for tools, all I can tell you is to focus on the time you had with her and the good memories you shared. That’s what we tried to do with my brother, and it eases the pain a bit. Take care!

    • Piper Bayard says:

      One of the things we do as a family when we suffer a loss is talk about our favorite memories until we are laughing. I think it does, indeed, ease the pain a bit. Thank you for your sympathies, Stacy.

  3. susielindau says:

    I bought a puppy and brought it home on Christmas Eve as a surprise. Dogs really don’t live that long which is a very sad fact of life. The good thing is you could buy or adopt another….
    Beautiful tribute.

  4. As a dog companion, I understand. I am so very sorry for your loss. Remember, all dogs go to Heaven.

  5. Jane Sadek says:

    So touching. The only tool for getting beyond the past is the tomorrows of the future.

  6. Running from Hell with El says:

    So sorry for your loss. Your words above are so beautiful.

  7. This was so touching, Piper. We feel your sorrow and your pain. Losing someone you love is never easy and a pet is a family member, loved and valued. Time does not ease the loss but rather teaches you to manage it. Memories are what keep us afloat and tears release the pain. The former will eventually overtake the latter. How lucky you are to have those memories.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      “The former will eventually overtake the latter.” It’s so true. I know that, one day, it won’t be the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning, and that will be ok. But until then, it’s a matter of embracing the pain and letting it change me. Thank you for your condolences, Patricia.

  8. donnagalanti says:

    So beautiful and so sad. I feel your pain, as one who knows the loss of such a family member. It’s true, you have to find who you are again without them there – they fill such space in your life and heart. So sorry for your loss.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      They do fill such a space. I thought I knew how large that space was, but it’s been 23 years since I’ve lived in a house without a dog, and I’m lonely in a way I had forgotten. Thank you for your sympathies, Donna.

  9. I’m so sorry to read of your loss. I know this grief well and it’s devastating. May you come to find joy instead of tears in the memories, and faith in the knowledge she will always be with you. God Bless.

  10. Whitney says:

    I have also lost a German Shepard and two other dogs in recent years. It’s so sad! But just think now you get to make another pet happy for many years. So sorry for your loss. ❤

  11. Have been following you from afar for awhile…love your humor…hate that you hurt. I put down 2 12 year old shepherds last year. All that I know for sure is there is room in my heart house wear they will live forever. I moved on by concentrating on all the good times we had together and with the faith that I had done (and could do) the right thing by them. I have two new ones, Molly and Mikey. Each day they remind me of their predecesors but now I once again have something to do with all that extra love. No platitudes, just another empathetic follower. I am sorry for your loss. Good luck with your process.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      It’s true that it’s a process. There’s an urge to run out and get another dog, but I know that would not be fair to myself, my family, or the new one because we’d only be looking for a bandaid at this point. So we’ll give it some time.

      I’m sorry for your loss, but I’m glad you have Molly and Mikey, now. They do open up a river of love that has nowhere to go without loving again.

      You are so kind, Ken. I’m glad you spoke up and shared your experience and empathy. Thank you.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    I’m so sorry, Piper. Losing a dog is awful.

  13. no nobler dignitary from heaven hath walked this earth than the graceful prescient shepherd, who’d give her life for her sheep. you have been blessed for as long as the Universe has seen fit to bless you with her, and the time has come to part ways… she wants you to be happy, she wants you to find a smile in the sunshine, and a quickened step at your moment of glee, a calmer presence in the serenity of life. she has taken her cue from you in life, she wants you to be you,

    God bless us all for sharing your thoughts,

  14. Katie Libbey says:

    My husband and I had to put our German Shephed, Hildy, down last spring. I miss her so much, and I totally understand.

    Katie Libbey

  15. EC Sheedy says:

    Losing a dear animal friend brings pain like no other. I cried…

  16. Michele Shaw says:

    I will soon be in your shoes, times 2. Of my 3 dogs, two are nearing 14 and in very poor shape. . It’s hard, but I love them so dearly, and I will baby them until their last breath. Daisy was a beautiful girl, and I’m glad you had that precious time with her. Remember her fondly and take the time you need. We all grieve differently. One day your heart may open for another who is just waiting for a home and plenty of love.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this, Michele. I know your home will soon feel very empty for both you and your 3rd dog. Thank you for your condolences, and many prayers for you.

  17. Catherine Johnson says:

    Oh that’s so sad Piper I am sorry to hear about your dog. I don’t know what we’d do without ours now. Dogs become more than just a pet, they are equal members of the family. Thinking of you x

  18. Loss is a tangible physical pain that doesn’t heal with just the passage of time. It burns our minds, sears our soul, each memory, each second, each minute becomes a search for what once was.

    For it is love turned to pain that we cannot seem to share, cannot seem to move beyond at times. We live for the moments now past, getting lost in the shadows instead of feeling the love that still connects us to those just out of sight, just out of our minds eye.

    For It is the infinite aspect of life alone that burns through our minds. The loss of sharing, the loss of that best friend that never judged, a friend never forsaken for anything other than the purity of their heart’s mind.

    It is the cry of shadows that flits through our mind, the pain of new loss that heals with old memories that slowly bring us back to the light. That tick of the clock remembering the joy of our walks together. That babble of the fountain that reminds us that life springs anew, the old never lost just out of sight in the moments pain.

    Hi Piper..just my inadequate words to give you my thoughts of prayer in your time of loss…..

    Take care

    Lewis : 0 )

  19. Kari says:

    Piper, two weeks ago today, my grandmother passed away. She was my stalwart rock, that one safe place where I could go and know I was loved unconditionally, regardless of whether she liked what I had done or not.

    What I have found is that nothing that people say really can soothe that jagged hole inside your heart — what matters is not what they say, but that they reach out and know the wound is fresh, and they try to staunch your freely-flowing blood with their well wishes and the simple basic fact that they care. So, while it seems that no one else knows how much you hurt and mourn and rail against that steady bastard, Time, sometimes one can find peace in that others care enough to say they’re sorry for your loss.

    While grandmothers and dogs are different in so many ways, they both grab a hold of your heart and, when Time says they have to go, there is no difference in the hole you feel inside when they do.

    The biggest thing I have found of comfort has been going through her house, looking through all her own memories and keepsakes, discovering who my grandmother was /before/, and all her hopes and dreams. It is THAT woman who I’ll keep alive in my heart, mind and soul as well as the woman who was a Mother to my father, who then became my Grandmother and loved me because I was “blood of her blood, flesh of her flesh.”

    I am truly very sorry for your loss.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I’m truly sorry for you loss, as well. I remember when the woman who unconditionally loved me passed on. I still feel the void left behind, and it’s been eleven years. I have a book she gave me that she loved, and I’ve never read it. I am still saving that experience to savor. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your experience and your sympathies. Many prayers for you as you find ways to fill that vacuum they leave behind.

  20. KM Huber says:

    Am fairly new to your blog but not new to saying goodbye to a dog. With your open heart, I have no doubt another lucky dog will find a home with you and yours. I volunteer with a rescue/rehabilitation group and I can tell the “type.” Just a little humor for the day.

    In Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening he says: `So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is…enlarge your sense of things….Stop being a glass. Become a lake.’” So as you move on, you move through, which is, I think, to become a lake.

    Sending you and yours energy for everyone’s highest good.


  21. tomwisk says:

    The post was poetry. Moving on is allowing for tears and fond memories. Never forgetting the good times helps. Knowing death brought relief and release is a big part of moving on.

  22. *hugs* I am so sorry. What a beautiful farewell.

  23. A beautiful tribute to a lost friend.

  24. Aww, Piper, you went and did it. 😥 Every creak of the wood floor is her toenails, and I think “I need to trim them” before I remember. Every drip in a sink is her taking a drink, and I listen for her to come back out of the kitchen before I remember. Every movement I catch from the corner of my eye when I’m outside is her approaching, and I turn to pet her before I remember. How long will it be so? Forever, I’m sure. She was my husband’s darling, and my rock when he died. You don’t ever forget someone who was there for you like that. You’re right, there is no “getting over.” I’m not sure I even have a toolbox for moving on. But if she was here, she’d find it for me. Because that’s who she was.

    May Daisy be playing happily with my Decoy Dawg now.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Your Decoy Dawg sounds so very special. It’s so true that we see them and hear them everywhere. I wake up in the morning and throw back the covers to get up and let the dog out, and then I remember. I tie the trash cupboard shut, and I open the back door to let her in. I’m baffled that the dog hair I swept up yesterday hasn’t been replaced on the carpet. I love the image of Daisy playing with Decoy. I’m sure they will be great friends. Thank you for sharing, Justine. *big hug*

  25. Vila Deuel says:

    I’m sorry to hear your faithful friend passed away. Time does ease that pain of loss. I still remember all the dogs I have ever had, but there is no pain associated with those memories anymore. I hope there is sunshine and laughter for you in the days ahead.

  26. Scot Bayless says:

    Nothing really prepares you for moments like this. And nothing really makes the hurt stop hurting – except time and those who love you. Be well and be happy when you’re ready.

  27. I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my beloved GSD almost 4 years ago to the day, and I know how very hard it is. Time is the best healer, but there are always the cherished memories as well.

  28. I’m so sorry for your loss. You’ve written a beautiful tribute to a treasured friend. My prayers go out to you.

  29. It’s ok to grieve. To cry, to laugh. Writing humor is actually good therapy for the grieving process. Finding something to be funny about can be difficult, a part of us wants to feel guilty for finding humor, when our mind says: “shouldn’t we be miserable?” . No. We needn’t be miserable. Misery is choice, happiness is a choice. At some point, we have to roll out of the miserable, and join the family, join the happy again, and we can do that at any time. So writing humor helps a lot.

    Some wonder how a person sets out to manage and maintain so many accounts at once. I didn’t really. I had a friend from High School, she was my partner, and we grew close. We set out on this journey together, Piper. And of course we talked about everything, her family, kids, her husband, my household of critters. One day it all STOPPED. I didn’t get any calls, I didn’t get any eMails, and I knew something was wrong. Her son, who’d been suffering from headaches was finally diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer in the front of his brain, where the surgeons could not reach. After she told me, it was like I was struck by a freight train. I internalized it, I felt so horrible: How could this be??? Why her? Why her son? How unfair was the Universe to do this? I was probably not the tower of strength, and unfeeling business person that people think of, but a complete loser, wreck, about as useless as it gets. Stephanies isolation born of shock only increased my pain. How could she go thru this and not tell me, that which I suspected anyway?

    It’s ok to seek out a counseling session with a grief or crisis specialist, pastor, therapist, even a shrink. Discussing it out loud is important, so we don’t internalize our loss. We can’t carry the burden alone, and I don’t think you want to, or you wouldn’t have asked us what is in our tool box.

    Ray, not a real religious man gave me some advise: “Lonny, say the Serenity Prayer out Loud 5 times and you will start to feel relief. Do this in the morning, afternoon, and evening. There is something about saying it out loud that works. I am no religious person, I don’t really believe in God, but that should tell you something, Lonny. IT WORKS. Saying it out loud is our first indication that we are willing to surrender and let go, and seek serenity in the terrible moments” I took Ray’s advise right then, and have continued to take his advice.

    God, Grant me the Serenity to Accept the Things I cannot change. The Courage to Change the Things I can. And the Wisdom to know the Difference.

    There is powerful spiritual power in those words, Piper and they do work. Pray them OUT LOUD 5 times in a row. If the tears come, then that’s ok. If people think you’re crazy, well that’s probably even better.

    Flash forward in time to this past fall, a few months ago, I got a call that my sister’s breast cancer had spread to her brain. She thought she had it licked, her meds had been cut, she was going to be better, then the terrible news that she would never get better, indeed her days were numbered. How terrible is that? Now she had the inoperable brain cancer, just like Daisy your beautiful dog had, Piper. Just like my business partner Stephanie’s son!! This is no coincidence, do you understand me? this is NO COINCIDENCE. I was prepared for the trauma of this news by the events of the past. The serenity and grace to go thru these awful horrible times is hard at first, but we get better at it, the more we let go, and Let God. The more we seek serenity, the more power there is in it, the more it comes.

    I cannot replace your Daisy, and I am no Counselor, but I can share my own experience, and what works, and relate to your awful, broken heart. God wants us to turn to Him, and this is your moment, this is your time, this is your opportunity to seek the Serenity that only He can give you. Pray those words now, while the moment is just right.

    God Bless Ya!!

    • Piper Bayard says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Lonny. I’m so sorry to hear about your sister and about Stephanie’s son. I have experienced similar things in my life, and it strips a gear in my head every time.

      I love the Serenity Prayer. It’s such beautiful, simple wisdom.

      Thank you for your friendship and support, Lonny. You are a very special person.

  30. Like you, I wrote about my loss when I lost Chipper — a precious Lhasa Poo who died too young. For me, any age would have been too young. He was my little guy. My friend.

    My head knew he would go before me. My heart believed in miracles.

    I cried for you, for me, for every pet lover when I read your words. It hurts like hell. I know. I had inexplicable stomach cramps for months after we lost Chipper. I couldn’t sit at the same place and write because he no longer warmed my feet.

    We jumped back into puppy-parent-hood quickly, hoping to fill the void. It was not the right thing to do. Poor little Beau was well-treated and pampered, but he wasn’t my Chipper. My love for Beau was tempered by memories of Chipper. I should have given myself time to grieve properly. To wait until the time was right.

    I can look back now and be glad Chipper and I had each other. Celebrate the fact that we had that time together. That bond. I’ll always be sad that it ended. But, that’s the risk I took and continue to take when I bring a dog into my heart and home.

    I ask myself what their lives (and mine) might have been like without each other. And, I know. Not as whole. We gave each other a rich life for the short window of time we had.

    Sincere condolences, Piper.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      A friend of mine always said, “A commitment to love is a commitment to pain.” I think that’s true, but the pain of not loving is so much worse. So I know that, in time, I’ll open myself to the pain again.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experience, Gloria.

  31. Oh Piper, my heart goes out to you. Daisy looks like such a sweetheat! For a pet owner, the hardest thing you will ever do is that last act of kindness. You do it even though it feels like you lose a piece of yourself, because you love them. My sympathies and thoughts for your healing.

  32. cwc6161 says:

    Piper, no words are adequate to convey my condolences to you on the loss of your beloved Daisy. Please know, however, that my warmest thoughts and prayers are winging their way to you. As an animal lover, I feel your heartbreak and your pain.

    There is a special little corner of Dog and Cat Heaven populated with the many furry friends that our family has lost over the years. Last year, I had to put down my kitty Gizmo during the spring, then Gizmo was joined by my Mom’s kitty Dusty during the fall. We each have other furry family members who remain with us, but these two … are gone.

    My toolbox labeled “Moving On” contains only these things: the inevitable tears and a supply of Kleenex, the cherished photos, the memories of cute and funny behaviors that still can bring a file, and the knowledge and belief that we will be together again … some day. To remind me of that day, there’s a link in my toolbox for “The Rainbow Bridge.” Please accept a copy for your own toolbox

    Warm hugs, my Friend….


    • Piper Bayard says:

      Thank you for The Rainbow Bridge. Ultimately, we all choose what we’re going to believe. I choose to believe they are all playing together, and that I will see them again. Thank you for your condolences, Candice, and for sharing your experience.

  33. mairedubhtx says:

    I send you my sympathy. I know what it’s like to lose your best friend as I lost my Spikey a few years ago due to heart problems. I thought my heart would break. My cat helped and my family helped me get through. Getting another rescued Japanese Chin in a month or so really helped. Ernie can never replace Spekey but he helps feel a void in my life that Spikey left. I now have two rescues Chins and they are a handful. But I will always miss Spikey.

  34. Sherry Isaac says:

    Piper, I feel your loss. It has been two years since our Bailey passed, and I heard her footsteps coming up the stairs each morning to wake me for her morning outside run for months afterward, and on occasion, caught in that thin veil between sleep and wake, I still do.

    Rest in peace, Daisy.

    • Piper Bayard says:

      I understand. We lost a cat seven years ago, and sometimes, I still feel her jumping up on the foot of the bed. Thank you for your sympathies and for sharing your story, Sherry.

  35. kadja1 says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have a 13 year old lab mix named Buddy. I don’t know what I’ll do when he is gone, though…

  36. Sheila Hill says:

    Piper, a friend posted this on her FaceBook page. As I read it, I cried.
    I know what it’s like to lose a close family member.
    Pets are not “like family” they ARE family, and it hurts when they depart the
    surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God.
    You never get over it, but the memories and unconditional love that they
    leave behind leaves an everlasting impact on you life and on your heart.
    And we’re all the better for it. I extend you you my most heartfelt condolences
    and deepest sympathies to you. Peace be with you.

  37. My heart breaks for you! BREAKS! I am sending you a huge virtual hug. I know it’s corny to say it but the only two tools that I have found to help in “moving on” is time…and writing! Grieving is a marathon, not a race, so take care of you and nurture yourself as best as you can through these rough waters….HUGS!!!

  38. I am profoundly sorry for your pain, the depth of which is commensurate with the affinity you shared with best friend Daisy who happened to have four legs. No matter the desolation & grief you must journey through at this time it will be a small thing to the joy you shared, the memories that you have, the smile that will come when she is in your thoughts.

    I can only imagine the hole in your heart, for she is the one you shared your most secret of secrets with, she is the one that still adored you when you were too ill or distracted to walk her. She is the one companion who’s only ambition was to love & please you.

    Because she was so splendid at loving you, you will in time surmount this moment of grief & take comfort from all the joy you were able to share, Daisy was truly worthy of your tears.
    Thoughts & Hugs Piper.

  39. brennagrimes says:

    So very very sorry for your loss. She was beautiful.

  40. amyshojai says:

    Sending healing thoughts and love–

  41. It is a small comfort that she is no longer in pain. This is a beautiful tribute. So sorry for your loss. {{hugs}}

  42. Donna Newton says:

    Everyone has already said it…. I am so sorry. I’ve loved dogs and lost dogs. Although they no longer walk by our sides, they never leave our hearts.

    Missing you, sweetie. xxx

  43. Oh, Piper. I read this in my car yesterday waiting for my son to finish piano. I was a soggy mess by the time he came out.

    My heart breaks for you and I wish I could give you the biggest, warmest, care-filled hug. What an amazing friendship you had with your sweet Daisy.

    I’m sorry you had to say goodbye to your fur baby. Sending good vibes and virtual hugs.

  44. Hi Piper. So sorry to hear about Daisy. I remember loosing a cat once and walking around the house, expecting him to be behind the curtains or around the next corner. It took a long time for that expectation to fade. I was shocked that loosing a pet could leave such an awfully big void. Best wishes to you and your family.

  45. Piper, I’m so sorry. Death leaves such a hole in our lives, but the beautiful part is the growth that is apparent in you through this loss. I’m a believer that we will see all our loved ones again after this life, and we need these experiences to help us become the people that we not only need, but want to become in the end. Thank you for sharing such a tender moment with us. Best wishes to you and yours.

  46. I`m so sorry Piper. It`s just hard- no getting around it. It`s a special kind of love.

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