The short version is that my most beloved wolfhound died earlier this month and I have been devastated. Literally, laid waste, as per a rough translation of the Latin root. I'm not writing this for sympathetic comments, more an examination of the process, now that almost a month has passed and there is less rawness.
Grief is a strange thing. There are different levels, intensities. And it can be so hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving, what would be acceptable. How well do you know them? Can you cope with NOT being able to make things magically better? Naked emotion is not, typically, something that my family does well. Or ever has, judging by the family stories and backgrounds.
We gave Fearghus a wake, of course. Almost a third of a bottle of Trapper's Hut made that night bearable (rather a nice Tasmanian whisky, should you get the chance to taste it). Then there was the packing away of collars, grooming tools, food bowl and mat. And the very empty spaces where he used to be. A bull terrier wondering where his big brother was and why were his humans so miserable.
Grief changes for each loss, for each person, for each time. Sometimes it is almost gentle, expected. Other times it is a rending beast that takes no prisoners, which exhausts with its intensity. It doesn't necessarily correlate directly with how much love there was. Or how much warning you had that the loss was coming, time to get ready, gird your loins....
Loss is inevitable in life. Change and death take our loves away. Acknowledge the loss, mourn it and do not ever regret the love. Love is love.