Tobi left us late last night, 1 May 2019. A deep, good friend is gone forever.
He was friend and family through good times and bad, from Spring 2003 to 1 May 2019. He’d often lie next to me, lie at my feet, or rest in my arms. He was strong, loving, and loyal.
For those who don’t understand that they are not “pets,” they are family, maybe you can learn from this:
1. “The death of pet can hurt as much as the loss of a relative” by Joe Yonan (The Washington Post, 26 March 2012)
It’s been four months, and yet if somebody asks me about that day, my voice will crack. By “that day,” I mean the day I came home from work to find my Doberman, Red, splayed out on my bedroom floor, his head to one side, his body lifeless but still warm. It’s an image I can’t seem to shake, as much as I try. I’m no stranger to death. I was a mess of anger and confusion when my father, suffering the aftermath of a stroke, took his last gasps one day in 1995, his children gathered around his hospital bed. And three years later, the death of my sweet, beloved sister Bonny after a withering battle with brain cancer was nothing short of heartbreaking. Yet somehow, and much to my distress, the death of my dog seems even harder. I haven’t felt grief quite like this since, well, the death of my previous dog five years ago.
2. “Why We Need to Take Pet Loss Seriously” by Guy Winch (Scientific American, 22 May 2018)
Losing a beloved pet is often an emotionally devastating experience. Yet as a society, we do not recognize how painful pet loss can be and how much it can impair our emotional and physical health. Symptoms of acute grief after the loss of a pet can last from one to two months, with symptoms of grief persisting up to a full year (on average). The New England Journal of Medicine reported in October 2017 that after her dog died, a woman experienced “broken heart syndrome”—a condition in which the response to grief is so severe the person exhibits symptoms that mimic a heart attack, including elevated hormone levels that can be 30 times greater than normal.
3. “Physiological correlates of bereavement and the impact of bereavement interventions” by Buckley, Sunari, et. al.
The death of a loved one is recognized as one of life’s greatest stresses, with reports of increased mortality and morbidity for the surviving spouse or parent, especially in the early months of bereavement. The aim of this paper is to review the evidence to date to identify physiological changes in the early bereaved period, and evaluate the impact of bereavement interventions on such physiological responses, where they exist. Research to date suggests that bereavement is associated with neuroendocrine activation (cortisol response), altered sleep (electroencephalography changes), immune imbalance (reduced T-lymphocyte proliferation), inflammatory cell mobilization (neutrophils), and prothrombotic response (platelet activation and increased vWF-ag) as well as hemodynamic changes (heart rate and blood pressure), especially in the early months following loss. Additional evidence suggests that bereavement interventions have the potential to be of value in instances where sleep disturbance becomes a prolonged feature of complicated grief, but have limited efficacy in maintaining immune function in the normal course of bereavement.
When a partner dies, the severe psychological stress may lead to a heightened risk of cardiovascular problems, including irregular heartbeats that last for a year. The risk is especially high for younger people right after an unexpected loss. The findings are published this week in the BMJ journal Open Heart.
Stressful life events have been linked to an increased risk of acute cardiovascular diseases, such as myocardial infarction (or a heart attack). However, it’s unclear whether they also lead to atrial fibrillation – the most common type of arrhythmia, or problems with heartbeat rate. During an arrhythmia, the heart might beat too fast, too slow, or irregularly, and these are all risk factors for stroke and heart failure.