Forum

OUR FORUM IS UP BUT WE ARE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF UPDATING AND FIXING THINGS.  SOME THINGS WILL LOOK WEIRD AND/OR NOT BE CORRECT. YOUR PATIENCE IS APPRECIATED.  We are not fully ready to answer questions in a timely manner as we are not officially open, but we will do our best. 

You may have received a 2-factor authentication (2FA) email from us on 4/21/2020. That was from us, but was premature as the login was not working at that time. 

BUNNY 911 – If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or pooped in 12-24 hours, call a vet immediately! Don’t have a vet? Check out VET RESOURCES

The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

What are we about?  Please read about our Forum Culture and check out the Rules

BUNNY 911 – If your rabbit hasn’t eaten or pooped in 12-24 hours, call a vet immediately!  Don’t have a vet? Check out VET RESOURCES 

The subject of intentional breeding or meat rabbits is prohibited. The answers provided on this board are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet.  It is your responsibility to assess the information being given and seek professional advice/second opinion from your veterinarian and/or qualified behaviorist.

BINKYBUNNY FORUMS

Forum RAINBOW BRIDGE Dealing with anticipatory grief: grieving for your pet who’s still alive

Viewing 13 reply threads
  • Author
    Messages

    • Ellie from The Netherlands
      Participant
      2118 posts Send Private Message

      Hi everyone, I don’t know where else I can talk about this. I hope it’s the right place, because I’m having trouble sharing this with friends. Maybe there are people here who’ve experienced the same and can share some tips or insights.

      The problem is that I’m struggling with anticipatory grief: I’m grieving for my bunny buddy who’s still alive but clearly ageing. It’s difficult to talk about it because people often respond with: “what are you on about, he’s still alive?!”.

      Breintje is 8 years and 8 months old now, and especially in the last year he’s showing clear signs of ageing. He developed mobility problems, so we’ve built steps and ramps so he can get on the bed, on the sofa and into his hutch.

      He’s also become very sensitive to cold and his activity level has gone down a lot. He used to run and play a lot, but nowadays he’s a huge cuddlebug. He’s all about blankets and warm fuzzy tunnels to keep him out of the cold. We keep the heater on for him at night as well.

      It’s not that I mind it that he’s become a huge cuddlebug, in fact I love sitting next to him for hours or snuggling in bed together. It’s just an ugly truth that he’s ageing fast.

      Our bond only seems to get stronger: he grooms me when I’m in pain, and he’ll lay against my painful arm while purring softly.
      Sometimes I tear up on random moment during the day. Sometimes when Breintje is being very very sweet, the truth smacks me in the face like a hammer: time’s ticking! :'(

      I don’t know how to deal with these feelings because I’ve never shared such a deep bond with someone who was ageing. My grandma raised me, and when she became ill and passed away I was upset, but nowhere near as upset as with Breintje. It’s not that I didn’t love my grandma, but for some reason I could accept it more easily.

      I try to enjoy and cherish all the moments Breintje and us have together. If anyone has some experience with anticipatory grief, I’d be so happy with some insights.

       


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      6051 posts Send Private Message

      I dealt with this a bit with Bertha, who passed Christmas of 2019, and currently a bit with Bun Jovi. Like every little thing I start asking myself “is this it?”. It’s a little different with Bun Jovi, because he actually did almost die a couple years ago, so now we really do feel like every day is a bonus.

      With Bertha I did notice a gradual slowing down and mobility issues in prob the last year. Then it accelerated in the weeks before she passed. I would also tear up pretty much every time I petted her. I don’t know if I really have tips for dealing with it, just wanted to share that I experienced it too. I think talking about it here is probably a good start. <3

      In the final weeks I was still somewhat holding on to hope that she had more time, but I knew deep down her time was coming. I told her it was OK and that we loved her. I was thankful that she passed peacefully with Bun Jovi at her side, but I was pretty upset that I wasn’t with her (she was with our sitter, who is extremely trusted and is the lead at the rabbit rescue). But our sitter thinks she may have been hanging on for me.

       

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


      • Ellie from The Netherlands
        Participant
        2118 posts Send Private Message

        Thank you for sharing your experiences! That does help, because sometimes I think I’m going bonkers. It’s weird to experience this, and my boyfriend doesn’t know how to handle it either. He just hugs me and doesn’t know what to say. He takes life more as it comes, and tends not to dwell on the future.

        I didn’t know Bun Jovi was so ill once, but I can imagine that it changes your perspective when every day is a bonus. The story of Bertha reminded me of some elderly people who quietly pass away when the family members are out of the room for a break. It happens more often than you’d expect, maybe it’s easier to go at such a moment?

        When I read your reply I was on the sofa with Breintje, our little late night ritual. We cuddle up with a blanket and he sleeps against me for hours. He surprised us a bit, because he dares to flop sometimes. That’s something he only started to do last year. As I read your reply he flopped against my leg and purred softly. He may be getting older and getting some health problems, but I think he still enjoys life. We’re going to make him as comfortable as can be!

         

         

         


    • RabbitPam
      Moderator
      10991 posts Send Private Message

      I have those feelings as well, and it was more pronounced with my first bunny who lost the use of his back legs for about a year before he passed. We had new rituals of care that made him comfortable but it’s hard, and I often check on breathing (ie wake up Spike when he’s resting in his tent). These feelings are natural.

      I guess one thing I’ve learned since Spike is now my third bunny and each one has been different, is that they go through stages as they age. What’s good about it is what you said – you get more cuddles; they’re more sensitive to you; they look to you for safety and protection; they trust you completely. If you can see it as a phase of your bunny’s development that you could only wish for when they were young and skittish, it might also feel like a gain as well as a loss. Yes, the end may be near, but our hearts love with the understanding that they may be broken one day. And it’s worth it.


      • DanaNM
        Moderator
        6051 posts Send Private Message

        “our hearts love with the understanding that they may be broken one day. And it’s worth it.”

        What a beautiful statement! And so true!

        . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • Bam
      Moderator
      15217 posts Send Private Message

      These are heavy thoughts, Ellie. I think I can relate. My dog Effi had a bad back problem that manifested acutely when she wasn’t even 9. After that, I knew I had her on borrowed time. Medication together with some (simpler) life style changes gave her more than 2 high quality years with me, before she deterioriated quite suddenly and I knew had to let her go.

      My bun Vilde is another one of those borrowed-time pets. It’s not sth you get really used to. It does however make you appreciate every moment you get together. That Breintje flops next to you is just lovely.

      If Breintje is having trouble moving around, he could have a bit of age-related arthrosis. You could perhaps look into dietary supplements or/and meds to help with that. Some people give their buns curcumin or rose hip or even glucosamine (GAGs). There are some supplements for horses that seem to work very well for rabbits, albeit in a much much lower dose (obv). My Vilde is on daily Metacam, which seems to agree with him – he’s certainly agile like a young bun even though he is 8.5 years. He too loves warmth, and his favorite place is right under a radiator.

      Love does hurt, invariably, it seems. I agree its still worth it, even if it might not seem so sometimes.

       


      • Ellie from The Netherlands
        Participant
        2118 posts Send Private Message

        Yes, it’s absolutely worth it! We are still growing closer every day.

        Last time I was at the vet with Breintje I asked them if there was a senior check-up, but there wasn’t one for rabbits. Rheumatism was on my mind too because I have it as well, and I’m so thankful for my meds! They don’t make it go away but they take the edge off the pain.

        The vet said that rheumatism would only be visible on an X-ray when it’s advanced, and that you’d notice it sooner from behaviour. Sadly it’s pretty much impossible to do a joint flexibility test on a bun: they’ll go wild when you want to bend and flex their paws and legs.

        By pure coincidence Breintje has been on Metacam for over a week, for a minor airway infection. We’re not seeing differences in movement, but we’ll check what happens when he gets off it. If he’s suddenly less mobile we’ll know something is bothering him.

        Top tip btw: mash a piece of banana and add the meds to it. He nearly licks the glaze off the bowl, so he gets the whole dose he needs. We’ve frozen slices of banana, and they get mushy when you thaw them. Works like a charm! He’ll probably be angry when we don’t give the meds anymore 😉


    • Wick & Fable
      Moderator
      4958 posts Send Private Message

      I would reflect that the more distress we feel in anticipating an unfortunate outcome, the more we care. It’s so natural and is something that unfortunately accompanies the relationships we care about most. That being said, caring and distressing grief do not need to be tied together when that time comes.

      Initially, some can feel “guilty” when trying to not feel sad. “If I’m not feeling sad or upset, what does that say about how I felt about them? That’s not right.” This is a distorted belief– when the time comes, try not to have judgment about how you’re feeling. Regardless of your feelings, your care and love for him is unwavering and will forever exist in the time spent together. The time you spend now, in the present, as well as in the past, is now immune to anything. It can always be in your recollection, including the positive emotions felt during those times.

      The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.


      • Ellie from The Netherlands
        Participant
        2118 posts Send Private Message

        Thank you! It’s true that this makes me think about how much Breintje and I share together. We spend a major part of the day sitting against eachother or laying in bed together. He’s the first one I think about when I wake up, and before I go to sleep I say “I love you, and goodnight!”.

        My health has taken a pretty big hit in the last year. Well, mine and millions of other peoples’.. Due to COVID restrictions physical therapy was forbidden for 3 months (!!!). That caused major problems for my joints and muscles, and left me fully housebound until early November. I’m in the middle of a flare-up again since December. Hands this time, so I can’t do much in the way of hobbies :/

         

        Breintje has been my saving grace throughout all this. Humans simply can’t be there for you all the time, because they have their lives as well. Breintje has taken to following me around the house, and he’s been such a good nurse. I’ve been groomed for hours on end, softly purred to, and my hair has been thoroughly ruined 😆

        He likes to groom my face, but when a lock of hair is in the way he snips it off. “Your fur was all wrong honey, but I fixed it for you!” It’s so cute: you simply can’t be mad. Thanks to my little barber I have multilayered hair now, and I have to wear hair clips to keep the short strands out of my face 😆 Oh you silly bunny!

         

        I’m honoured to have such a deep bond with him, and we’ll do our best to make him the most spoiled bunny we can find. I think I will look back at it as the time when we got closer than I ever thought you could get.

         


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      6051 posts Send Private Message

      Omg that is so cute about him nibbling your hair!

      About the mobility issues, there is a supplement called Myristol that I tried with Bertha (in comes in a rabbit pellet form, and you only give a tiny bit each day, like a few pellets worth). It has glucosomine, collagen, and some other anti-inflammatory things.  I felt slightly weird giving a rabbit collagen, but I think it seemed to help? It was originally made for horses, but now there is a rabbit formula. Not sure if it would be available in your area, but might be worth looking into.

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • bunnytowne
      Participant
      7537 posts Send Private Message

      Yes what you are feeling is normal.  I had a dream in august that someone I loved very much passed. I woke up literally crying  during and after the dream.  I felt that it was Cotton that was gone in my dream. I started noticing little  Boo was slowing down. I just felt his time was soon. Then his hindquarters were falling over. Off to the vet we went. His kidneys were failing. He had to be pts August 11th. A year after thar horrible dream. Since January I had a feeling he wouldn’t be around much longer. The feeling was very heavy. Sad. Yes these feelings are normal. Knowing they are getting older and slowing down. Feeling sad because you know their time is coming. You aren’t crazy.


    • Ellie from The Netherlands
      Participant
      2118 posts Send Private Message

      @DanaNM: yes, I’m really honoured that he grooms me like that. The vet also noticed that he’s a very kissy bunny. We’ve put Breintje on grain-free pellets to make sure he doesn’t set off my allergy by licking my face. It also improved his digestion: we have fewer sticky poops now that he gets less carbs.

      The formula you mentioned sounds interesting, we’ll look into it! Thank you 🙂


      @bunnytowne
      : I’m so sorry for the loss of your little Boo 🙁 The dream sounds horrible, it’s difficult when you get such a feeling of foreboding. It sort of hangs above you all the time, at least that’s how it is for me.

      It’s why I’ve been so focused on making his life as comfortable and as happy as possible. I try to find all sorts of ways to have more interaction: I used to peel and cut vegetables in the kitchen, now I do it on the sofa. He walks around on the floor in front of me, like a little carpet shark on the hunt for anything that falls down. (Which is a lot, because I’m super clumsy right now xD)


    • bunnytowne
      Participant
      7537 posts Send Private Message

      You are doing good accomodating your little luv bunny. Cotton became a licker too. Enjoy your time with him. As you know time can be short even when we dont want it to be such


    • LBJ10
      Moderator
      15408 posts Send Private Message

      I went through this with my dog. She lived to be very old and it was so difficult seeing her slow down. Near the end, we had to take her for “carries” instead of walks. I struggled a lot with what I knew was inevitable.

      Things change, they grow old, they slow down, and you learn to accommodate them. What I learned is that you just need to live in the moment, enjoy the little things, and take everything one day at a time.


    • DanaNM
      Moderator
      6051 posts Send Private Message

      Have any of you seen that video of that very old fruit bat that they take on “flies”??

      You just reminded me of it, it’s so heartwarming:

      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


    • LBJ10
      Moderator
      15408 posts Send Private Message

      OMG, that’s so adorable!


    • Ellie from The Netherlands
      Participant
      2118 posts Send Private Message

      Awww, that’s so cute! Beautiful that people are willing to invest so much time and care in an animal ^_^


    • prince dorian the bun
      Participant
      443 posts Send Private Message

      I am a little late in responding, but I totally get it. My cat of 19 years passed away not that long ago and well at 19 I knew it wouldn’t be forever, I often found myself trying to mentally prepare for her passing… it sort of helped as when she did I knew I wanted her to be water processed rather than cremated and who would do it, and other things you just don’t want to have to think about. It didn’t help emotionally as she was my closest companion and that hurt. It actually makes me freak out a bit when Dorian had his gas issues, buns seem so fragile… one minute they can be happy running about and the next curled up in my lap barely moving. I have been actually crying today as I don’t think I would know how to handle his loss right now and he’s just bopping about playing wondering why I am such a mess. (It’s been a very rough couple years in that regards)

       

      & I love that fruit bat video!

Viewing 13 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Forum RAINBOW BRIDGE Dealing with anticipatory grief: grieving for your pet who’s still alive