It was el Día de los Muertos today, which is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the lives of our ceased ones. On the holiday, we commemorate loved ones, reminiscing over the bonds that we shared with them and ultimately praising them for being in our lives. The holiday is meant to be a cheerful event, where we celebrate their life rather than mourn their departure.
For me, I thought about my dog, Toby. We had to put him down around two years ago due to his declining health, and his absence took a toll on our family. It was the first time I experienced any deep grief, and it was really hard for my family and I to cope. I had always loved nature and animals, particularly dogs, making it especially hard for me when I lost my own dog.
Recovery for my family was not easy. At first, I wouldn’t get over his loss, thinking that he’d be back the next day. I would always expect to see him standing at the door with his tail wagging when I would get home, or hear his barking when the mailman came. I remember how the house became really quiet for a while since I was so used to his barking and his toys squeaking when he would play with them.
It took me a year to finally cope with the loss when I learned about día de los muertos. Upon hearing about the event, I tried to unite its purpose with my dog. The purpose of the holiday is celebration, where we celebrate our loved ones, and I tried to celebrate the memories my family and I had of Toby. That’s when it struck me that my family wasn’t the only one dealing with loss – throughout the entire human history, people have lost loved ones, whether people or pets. This is a bond which unites us as humans – our abilities to empathize or sympathize with others, as well as the losses we face in life.
In the four years that he was with us, he had grown to become an important part of our family. He had always been a troublemaker, constantly ripping up his bed or breaking his chewing toys, and although he was a shy dog, we knew that he loved us as his family. I’m glad that my family and I had the blessed opportunity to have him in our life, as we have many things to remember him by.