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Saying goodbye to your best friend

Not a day goes by that I don’t not think about him ❤️🐶

Death is fascinating to me, when I talk about Geoff, many respond by saying

“Oh isn’t it awful!”

If I’m honest, I find this tricky to respond to. Let me explain why….

Geoff was with me for almost 16years of my life. In the last year, I could feel that it was time to make a decision. The hardest choice was making a final decision on the date, as I’m sure many of you can relate, some days he looked great and others not so great. This up and down behaviour, made it a tricky decision.

I promised Geoff that I wouldn’t let it get to a point where I had no choice. The saying “rather be a week too early than a day too late”, just kept running through my head.

As hard as that decision was, I reminded myself how fortunate I was to have had that choice to make. I know many people who haven’t had the option….

It was a Friday evening and the way he looked at me, I knew instantly what he was saying to me. Yes animals don’t speak English, they don’t need to. When we listen and watch their behaviour their way of communicating is SO POWERFUL. It was that Friday when the tears kept coming, my heart felt heavy and my chest tight. I knew it was time…

For me, once I had made the decision there was no turning back. Again I think how grateful I am, as having my own business meant that I could alter the dates around and I ended up taking a few days off of work to travel to Ireland.

Geoff absolutely LOVED travelling! Back in his younger years he spent 3 summers travelling across Europe with me and Alice as we competed. This reminds me of a 3 day trek to Turin in Italy. We arrived in the earlier hours of the morning and I remember letting Geoff out whilst we sorted the horses. After about 15mins, I realised Geoff wasn’t around…

The barns that the horses were staying in were separated by country. We heard laughter and sounds coming from the Italian team barn and as I turned the corner, guess who was sat on the lap of the Italian captain? I swear all Geoff was missing was a cigar and glass of port 😂🐶🤦🏼‍♀️.

I would be lying if I said it wasn’t difficult, however once I knew it was time and I made the decision, something shifted within me and I promised myself and Geoff that I was going to make the most of the time we had left together.

This feeling outweighed the feelings of sadness.

Geoff and I spent a few days together in Scotland before getting the ferry across to Ireland. A couple of people have asked me if the build up to knowing the date was difficult.

The last few days weren’t spent doing adventurous things, instead I soaked up the ordinary, what we would call mundane moments, cuddling, walking or at Geoff’s age walking meant me carrying him around the garden or me pushing him around in his “Lambo” (basically his pushchair!) The kitchen moments… which was Geoff’s favourite area of the house, picking up any scarps on the floor and starring at anyone who had food in their hand.

Like everything in life, the “final” day came so quickly. I say “final” in inverted commons, because even though he isn’t physically here anymore… I feel him around me everyday. Maybe it’s the story I’m telling myself and I can imagine some people might roll their eyes here 🙄…. whether you believe there is more to life than what we see or even if you don’t, I feel Geoff around me all the time. I actually feel him on my heart ❤️.

Let me explain….

The reason I went to Ireland was to visit my mom’s place, the views around there are absolutely incredible. The drive up to her house is a good mile up a steep hill, but when you get to the top, there are 360degree views of the Mourne Mountains.   

I arranged a vet to come to the house for 3pm on Saturday 8th April. Geoff never really enjoyed going to the vets, for a friendly dog, he hated being placed on the assessment table and the floor were too slippy for him, hence the decision to have a Vet who specialised in end of life care for older pets.

The procedure of putting Geoff to sleep was so fast. As cliche as it sounds “one minute he was there and the next he wasn’t”.

Hence the saying “make the most of each day”.

I remember feeling calm and so much love for him. The vet had to administer two injections, the first one sent him into a deep sleep and then the other which stopped his heart. Before the first injection, I picked him up and held him close to my chest for a few laps around my mom’s garden. I held his little body so close to my heart and kept telling him how grateful I was for him. That I loved him with every cell in my body, and that I would always love him.

Geoff passed away at 15:12pm laid across my chest. The last sounds I heard from him were his snores. I remember being at peace and feeling calm when the injections were happening and somehow ended up sitting back on one of the garden chairs with Geoff laid across my heart and chest. Only a few days later did I realise that this was the same position he adopted when I collected him 16years ago.

He was one of 5 pug puppies and sat at the back of the puppy pen, watching his brothers and sisters play. I was drawn to his calming and laid back energy the moment I laid my eyes on him. For some reason, I think it was because of the promise I had made to him about making the most of the time we had left together, that coupled with knowing that it was time and his calming at peace energy, I had no tears or sadness when he passed, just an unbelievable amount of love and gratitude.

Kerry (Vet from home vet Northern Ireland) listened for a heart beat and stayed with me for a bit before leaving. This was the part I was not prepared for…..

When I think objectively about this, I feel kind of silly writing it out, however I’m here to share my story as part of my grieving process. Once the vet left, each one of my family came and asked how I was, still feeling so much love for Geoff, I had this overwhelming feeling of not being able to let go of him……

Now Ireland isn’t the warmest of places, so we were both wrapped up with blankets laid over us. I was also very aware of the natural process of a body once there is no life left….

As much as I knew all of the above, I stayed in the same position for the next 2hrs. Holding his little body so close to my heart and allowing whatever emotions wanted to come through. I remember watching the clouds moving across the mountains with tears running down my cheek bones.

Reflecting back, I can honestly say that this unexpected time spent with Geoff’s body was so beneficial for my grieving process. Being totally present with myself,  just allowing the emotions and thoughts to come through me, but not reacting allowed me to calmly and intuitively know that I was at peace with the decision. I knew the next stage of the process was imminent… letting go of his body…

Again, call it the story I was telling myself, or the emotional state I was in, I remember watching the clouds fly over the mountains and then something caught my eye…

One of the clouds was shaped like a heart and something in me went,

Okay, it’s time..”

I picked him up and walked him over to the hand made coffin that my step dad had put together. It was honestly beautiful and again unexpected.

No one taught me about death or grief and why should they? Losing someone you love is painful, however the reality is that it is inevitable for us all. We live our lives like we are going to here forever! Allowing our thoughts and emotions of frustration, anger and sadness to consume our lives.

Make the most of the mundane “ordinary” moments with your loved ones and be grateful every single day. You never know what’s around the corner.

Thank you for reading my story, selfishly it was another part of my grieving process. The biggest lesson I have learnt is shifting your perspective into gratitude. I know that I was extremely lucky to have had Geoff for 16 years and the way he left me say goodbye to him, was his biggest gift he left me.

Thank you for reading,

With love

Nika x

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