Still Standing

How Adopting a Puppy Helped Me Grieve

When my son, Jonah, was stillborn at 30 weeks in January 2017, my beloved cat, Cally, was in her last months on Earth. Cally and I had an amazing bond, but at 22 years old, she was really, really old.

Cally had lived the longest and loveliest of kitty lives, from the time we found her wandering the neighborhood when I was 7 to living with my husband and I as I approached 30. She was there for so many moments in my life, comforting me in Middle School when the boy I liked didn’t like me back, following me around any time I came home to visit from college, jumping up on my lap during my husband’s marriage proposal, and finally, being there for me through both my mom’s unexpected and untimely death and through losing Jonah. Every night, she snuggled into the crooks of my knees, and every day, she was on my lap as much as possible.


Although I loved my cat with all my heart, my husband Colin and I really wanted to adopt a dog, and we knew Cally wouldn’t tolerate it. So, we held off.

Cally died on a Tuesday. I knew something was horribly wrong when she was so off-balance, she fell off the bed in the morning, then couldn’t seem to do anything besides walk around the house in a big circle, hugging the wall. The vet figured it was a tumor in her brain, and we made the decision to let her go.

I was so lonely and sad (I work from home and the house was just so empty!) that we went to look at dogs that Sunday, and by Sunday night, a doggie foster mom was coming over to our house, toting our little Freya.


From day one, this little snuggle pup has brought so much joy to my heart. Here are a bunch of ways adopting a puppy has helped me grieve:

Sure, there’s frustrating times when she refuses to go to sleep or won’t stop being crazy with puppy energy, but those moments are healing in a way, too. Just like being a mom to a human baby can be hard sometimes but you learn from it, the same happens with a puppy. You get frustrated, but maybe you learn a little patience, or a little bit more about sacrificing your comfort because you love someone or some pup so completely.

Adopting a puppy is one of the best things I’ve done for myself and my grief.