My Greatest Loss Was Also My Greatest Gain

If someone had told me that I would be asked to submit an article on how I turned the greatest loss of my life into my greatest gain... well, let's just say I wouldn't have believed them. I didn't think anything positive would ever come out of my broken heart.

It was five years ago, June 12, 1998, that I suffered the greatest loss of my life. My beloved 14-year-old Samoyed, Whisper (my heart, my soul, my reason for living) passed away. His precious body was tired, asking to be released from the pain. It was that day, a part of me (the best part) died, right along with my beloved Whisper. It was that day I knew my suffering would begin, so my sweet Whisper could be set free. If it were possible to die from a broken heart, surely I would have.

My "healing" was slow, to say the least. After six months had passed, I couldn't even speak Whisper's name out loud, without bursting into tears. I was a lost soul, physically here, but without a heart. I didn't know who I was anymore, my reason for living was gone. By the eighth month into my journey of loss, something unusual happened. I had the distinct feeling that Whisper was talking to me. I could "feel" him saying: "Mom, what are you doing? I am here. I will always be with you. You just can't see me right now. You have to get better, for me."

Well, as you can imagine, that did it! I couldn't fathom the idea that my angel was not at peace. Previously, I had no desire to "get better." (I honestly didn't care anymore. As long as I was in that deep dark pit of depression, I was still connected to Whisper.) It was then I took my first baby step toward healing. I finally realized, it wouldn't be heaven for Whisper, if he had to worry about me.

I wasn't instantly "cured" from my grief, but I did make the conscious decision to try. I had to do something, to once again become the mom who Whisper loved. I certainly couldn't change what had happened, but I could change how I reacted. It has been said, the best way to honor your beloved pet, is by living a good life, continuing the lessons of love they only began to teach and keeping their sweet memory alive. I've tried to do that and I think my Whisper would be proud of his mom.

Fast-forward the calendar five years. June 2003 -- I survived! It was a long and painful roller-coaster ride of emotion, but I finally did make it back to the world of the living.

Looking back, the one thing that amazes me is that I believe I have actually become a better person by making it through that unbearable heartache. (Thank you, Whisper!) It's because I suffered the most devastating loss of my life that I have achieved the most amazing rewards. If I hadn't gone through such extreme pain, I never would have found the strength to change my world -- for the better. It was my Whisper who helped me remember I would always be his mom, so I could be there for others who had suffered a similar loss.

In his honor, I began a little company, Whisper in the Heart was launched on Whisper's first Wing Day (the first anniversary of the day he earned his angels wings). When Whisper needed to leave me, I had to do something, anything to keep him close to my heart. I created a little urn-type pendant for my precious Whisper, which could hold some of his beautiful white fluff. And so the WITH (Whisper in the Heart) pendant was born. When friends and family saw the little pendant I created for Whisper, they suggested other people might also find comfort in something similar. So, with lots of help, my small business was born on June 12th, 1999.

In October of 1999, I became an iVillage Community Leader for the Pet Bereavement message board. I find great comfort in offering a sympathetic shoulder and an understanding heart. For the longest time, I thought I was the only one to feel such misery. I didn't think anyone else understood what I was going through. I felt so alone. Now I have a place were I can offer others hope to go on, to begin their journey toward healing and become a better soul, in honor of their beloved pet.

My work on iVillage's Pet Bereavement message board and Whisper's Website has shown me that the depression associated with the loss of a beloved pet is nothing to be ashamed of, or hide. We are not alone in our journey toward healing.

It took the greatest loss of my life to discover my greatest gains. Whisper knew, the day he earned his wings, my life would be forever changed. Thank you, Whisper, I hope you are proud of the work I am doing.

Lin Doss is a loving BridgeMom, whose life changed forever the day her Samoyed, Whisper, earned his wings. Her angel inspired her to host the Pet Bereavement message board on the iVillage's Home and Food Channel. She now shares her life with Wonder, a Keeshond.


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