The Loss of a Non-Human Child — The Legitimacy of a Mother’s Grief
Carole R. Davis
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Thank you for writing this so I can cry for you, Jinky, and for my fur children. When the vet took my limp Monkey (a dog) from my bed and carried her swaddled body like a human baby out my front door I felt a chunk being ripped from my chest. My husband had to stop me from running after the vet to wrestle my baby back. When the call came from the vet that my 17-year old dog, Sugar, died in a steel cage without me I doubled over and gasped for air. I have not recovered. Those two girls came from Australia to the U.S. with me and made me feel safe. I now feel alone in a foreign land. I was alone in my grief. Some people said they lived a long life and I was lucky because I had other dogs. I remember thinking ‘who says that to a mother who loses a child?’ I was expected to just continue as normal. I lost weight and took sleeping tablets every night because I was scared to wake up and see that Monkey and Sugar were no longer there on my bed. I was scared to talk about my pain that became a sickness. I made a decision when I was 28 that the love I had for Sugar was perfect and I only ever wanted to mother dogs. I mother dogs better than many mother human children. I mother a dog from the moment I pluck them from the shelter with fierce mama grizzly protection and gentle regard for their well being. I put my fur children’s needs above all. I have made massive sacrifices, losing friends, career, money — that’s parental sacrifice. Carole Raphaelle Davis your demand for recognition for a mother’s pain speaks to me. I recognize and feel the depth of your suffering for your son. I thank you for speaking out for people like me who love deeply and equally another species and are expected to bury our children and act like nothing happened because our grieving is not for a human. Mama inertia is what I call it because Jinky suddenly stopped but your mama heart keeps hurtling forward and he no longer needs your care and protection but you can’t stop needing to give it. You still smell him like any mama smells their child. Whatever mama chemicals that are activated in any woman to nurture are in a state of inertia in your body right now. You went all in with Jinky, body and soul, and now he is gone and that’s profound loss. I empathize. I love you for taking your darkest hour to liberate me from shackled grief for my non-human children.