The Weekend Australian - Review - - Contents - Julie Hard­ing Review this­life@theaus­tralian.com.au

It has been seven days since I lost my beloved Fynn, “my lovely dar­ling” as I used to call him. This time last week he was alive and we were at the vet.

I was try­ing to find a way through, to avoid the end of our 15-year re­la­tion­ship — and it was a re­la­tion­ship in ev­ery sense of the word. We did ev­ery­thing to­gether. The mun­dane of our lives to­gether was the joy. At night we breathed to­gether, snored to­gether; in the morn­ing we strolled to­gether, we ate to­gether, we hung out to­gether, grieved to­gether when we lost his mate, Harper, 18 months ago.

After that loss we were even closer. He trusted me and I took his life in the name of kind­ness and to avoid him end­ing up in pain. Tak­ing life is ab­hor­rent and dis­tress­ing to me, even with this type of so-called mercy.

I felt I be­trayed his trust. It crushed me, those last mo­ments as I held him, weep­ing as I nod­ded to the vet. He didn’t want to go, which made it all the more dif­fi­cult, his fi­nal whim­per­ing to me as I told him: “I’ve got you, I’m here, I’ve loved you your whole life.” His big beau­ti­ful heart as it stopped beat­ing.

I re­gret noth­ing about the life we shared to­gether. Now the grief is all-con­sum­ing. He was my friend, my com­pan­ion, as WH Au­den said in his poem Stop all the clocks: He was my North, my South, my East and West, My work­ing week and my Sun­day rest, My noon, my mid­night, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

When no one else was there and my world fell apart after my brother’s sui­cide, my re­dun­dancy, my heart block­age, he was the con­stant, my pur­pose to keep go­ing. Now the house is empty and cold. I can­not move any of his things; his stuff is ev­ery­where, his lovely smell. I walk our walk each day and can’t stop cry­ing.

Only those who have been lucky enough to ex­pe­ri­ence this kind of close bond will truly un­der­stand. And why in our so­ci­ety are we not al­lowed to grieve? Where is the un­der­stand­ing, dig­nity and re­spect of let­ting some­one grieve?

It has been only a week and I’m sup­posed to get over it and, yes, I’ve been told to “pull your­self to­gether”.

I’ve heard all sorts of jus­ti­fi­ca­tions and plat­i­tudes from well-mean­ing people who don’t re­alise the im­pact on me of los­ing Fynn. People telling me what to do, what to feel and, as­ton­ish­ingly, ask­ing “are you go­ing to re­place him?” as if he were some kind of hand­bag.

I keep re­peat­ing one thing to those people. I loved him, I … just … loved … him.

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