Turning grief into something that can help others

Hi everyone!

I apologize for my radio silence lately. Truth be told it would’ve worked if my 6-month check-in post was my final installment for this journey I’m on: “Yep, I’ve made it 6 months. I guess I’ll be all right. So long!” but that’s not how I wanted it to end. This journey to Maine is an ever-present, ongoing thing, and just because I made it 6 months doesn’t mean that I am cured of all homesickness or second thoughts.

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The truth is not long after my last post I had to say goodbye to my best friend, Carmela. Those who have followed along on my journey this far know how much my dog meant to me. For 15+ years she was my other half, my adventure buddy, my everything. We grew up together and navigated life, in all of its stages, together. My world revolved around her, and her absence in my life has left such an agonizing ache in my heart that I didn’t think would ever heal—that I still don’t think will ever completely heal.

I could talk at length about those final days mostly because they’ve been playing in an endless loop in my head for the last 30 days, but I won’t. Those are my heart-breaking memories to bear, and that I hope will eventually fade.

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After it happened I wasn’t sure of anything anymore. I felt so lost—like a piece of me had died, and in a way it did. I went home to Chicago for a few days to be with my wonderfully supportive, loving family who would hover over me in the only way I tolerate—we’re here if you need us, but just go ahead and do your own thing. It was just what I needed.

During my time home I came up with an idea. I was wearing Carm’s collar around my wrist as a way to feel closer to her. I knew that I would have to come up with something else though because not only would my coworkers think I was mentally unstable if I was walking around with a dog’s collar around my arm, but it was also noisy as hell. I didn’t want to put her dog tag on a chain and wear it as a necklace. I wanted to wear it as a bracelet. After hours of scouring the internet I couldn’t find anything out there that incorporated a dog tag into a bracelet, so I came up with my own.

Pet tag remembrance

I picked white and red because Carmela was a white puppy with a red collar. I picked the woven design because I liked the symbolism associated with being woven together, she and I. I picked the plastic buckle because I’ve always hated those tiny clasps on bracelets. I liked that I could look down at my wrist at any time and think of her. It was perfect.

Pet ID tag remembrance

Over the next several days I got a lot of compliments on it—from friends, family, and complete strangers. They would ask me where I found it, how I came up with it, and mention that they knew several people who would be interested in something like that. So I decided to put it out there.

I now have an Etsy store set up: Knot Forgotten Pets or www.etsy.com/shop/knotforgottenpets

Pet ID tag remembrance

At my store I have several bracelet and keychain options. Between the color combinations, pet tag types, and inscriptions the possibilities are virtually endless.

Pet ID tag remembrance

Pet ID tag remembrance

For me it’s not about making money. What I really want to do is provide a little comfort to those who have gone through what I’ve been going through. I know it’s a small thing, but I know how much comfort I’ve gotten from having my bracelet. If I can offer that to someone else then my mission is complete.

Also a portion of the proceeds will go to The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland—a wonderful animal shelter that I’ve been volunteering at for the last few months. It’s something that I think can do a lot of good, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

All in all it’s been an eventful few weeks. I’m still trying to find my footing—my place in the world without my faithful dog by my side, but I’m getting there.

12 Comments

  1. I’m so sorry. I lost my dog to cancer at only 9 years old almost 3 years ago. I still miss her. I’m almost ready to adopt again, but not quite. I love your bracelet idea! I know a lot of people who may be in touch with orders! Stay strong and know that you gave Carmela a happy life with lots of fun and love.

  2. I was getting to feel that I “knew” Carmela through your posts, dreaded what I knew was coming, and felt sad when I heard she was gone. She sure did a good job of getting you through those first months; I can’t imagine you doing it without her. Our cat, Mrs. Beasley, did the same for my daughter in her first distant city, and we have photos like yours–a little girl with her new pet, a young woman with her dear companion. Good job, turning it all to good, for yourself and others.

    • Thank you, Patti. It’s been hard, but I am so grateful that she made it as long as she did and that she got to come along on so many adventures. I’m glad your daughter had that as well. Thank you for your support.

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