Surviving loss and celebrating love during the new norm of COVID

Share the love

Surviving loss and celebrating love during COVID is tough. That said, this new norm can help us feel things in life with a deeper sense of clarity and meaning. Yes, in the middle of a pandemic while entrenched in a social movement, this pollyanna girl believes – love conquers fear.  

I held off on this post because I simply wasn’t ready to share. And then love escaped us with George Floyd. Not only love but fairness, equity, justice and civility. It was more appropriate to talk about how the white community can help the black community. Now, I take a personal turn reflecting in versus out.

During the 2016 Tony Awards, Lin-Manuel Miranda said, “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love {and it} cannot be killed or swept aside.” My mantra for my beloved Bo angel. As he journeyed to God, we were washed in love. Allow me the honor to share. 

Sustaining love along the cancer journey

a woman lies with her black lab and both have smiles as they celebrate being cancer free

Happy faces because we’re cancer free May 20, 2019

I must begin with our team at Southeast Veterinary Oncology and Internal Medicine. In April, I blogged about Bo’s winning cancer over journey. Based on how he initially presented in November 2018, Dr. Neumann predicted two weeks. Bo had multiple tumors and two types of metastatic cancer. Bo rocked 17 months with his Palladia chemotherapy. As a result, he paved a new path for pups to rise up to and parents to hope on. In fact, I’m honored to say he’s referenced as a case study! The entire SEVO team always returned my (many!) calls, answered questions, guided our steps and offered support during the setbacks. Bless you.

Celebrating love with veterinary care

a black lab lays on the floor licking vanilla doggie ice cream

Bo enjoying doggie ice cream at his celebration of life party

We met Dr. Halverson with Shoreline Veterinary Animal Hospital about a year ago. Not only did Bo have cancer, he also developed a heart condition. Dr. Halverson caught an unusually fast heartbeat on a checkup for meds. Her trigger alert paved the path for us to travel to the UF Small Animal Hospital who literally saved his life that weekend.

When it came to planning Bo’s heaven service, I knew I wanted Dr. Halverson present to handle the medical side. Hard day yet beautiful service because she was in tune with both me and Bo. This was surviving loss and celebrating love during COVID manifested.

Elevating love through foundational support

on a black road in white chalk a message reads you got this

Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash

Cancer care isn’t cheap. With the help of SEVO, we sourced financial aid. Three organizations deserve a paw high five:

  • The Mosby Foundation helped us earlier this year. Oh, the moment I ran my credit card with a reduced total! I was grateful for the help from a foundation who understood and respected our winning over cancer journey. > The Mosby Foundation on FB. 
  • Live Like Roo blessed us with an awesome contribution. They host cool fundraisers like virtual acoustic happy hours on Friday. Laura, the medical director, shared our post with their Facebook community. It was beautiful to hear from others walking in our shoes. > Live Like Roo on FB. 
  • After initially contacting SEVO, The Pet Fund learned about Bo going to heaven. They still reached out and wanted to help. What an expected surprise! No doubt my angel Bo helped with this. > The Pet Fund on FB. 

Thank you all for helping parents survive the hardships of canine cancer.

Surviving loss with family and friends

two women stand with a black lab at the water's edge at Guana Reserve with white sand, blue skies and green trees

Happy camper Bo with his Auntie Mary and Mum at the Guana Reserve in Ponte Vedra, Florida 2019

Family and friends wrapped us with unconditional grace and love. Aunties Lyn and Kris shared their backyard for Bo’s heaven service. They allowed us to return home so I could give Bo to God in his happy place – the beach. Likewise, Aunties Mary and Stacy broke the travel COVID rules and drove down from NC. All present and by our sides for the service. Just wow.

And for all of the known and anonymous love we’ve received, we say grazi. We’re humbled.

  • An unknown angel paid for Bo’s heaven service.
  • Auntie Kathleen sent a beautiful charm I wear around my neck every day.
  • We received surprise Bo blankets in the mail! Thank you shore babes and Auntie Kim.
  • The SEVO team sent us the book For Every Dog An Angel”  by Christine Davis with handwritten notes. Auntie Stacy sent us “GoD and DoG by Wendy Francisco.
  • New Uncles Stanley and Byron showered us with meals, wine, socially distanced doorstep conversations and song. Let’s not forget the doggie ice cream! (See above: yum approval)!

This is how I’m surviving loss and celebrating love during COVID.

Sharing loss and love with others

a heart shape is drawn into the sane with a small view of blue water in the background

Photo by Khadeeja Yasser on Unsplash

Here are my love tips for surviving loss and celebrating love during COVID.

  1. Determine if momentos help or hurt. I put a few things away. I also kept items out like his beds, water bowl and pictures. His cards are out and all over the house.
  2. Source a release valve. I blog so I find peace in writing. I kept a health journal for Bo, which I now use to write love messages to him.
  3. Move your body. I created a Don’t Worry, Bo Happy playlist on Spotify. I ran to this while he was alive so it wouldn’t hurt after he went to heaven. Now, it provides connection.
  4. Turn up the grit and gut. It hurts on a daily basis so dig in and work through it. I literally say out loud, THIS HURTS. As a result, I release the pain to God and Bo. Still.
  5. Allow the wailing. Furthermore, sob, scream, cry, throw snot. Your goal is to acknowledge and express. And don’t suppress. Ever.
  6. Reach out to friends, family and neighbors. I called and video chatted with friends as we prepared for Bo’s heaven journey. I continue to reach out because I want to talk about Bo.
  7. Give back. Follow supportive organizations on social media and share on your channels. Subscribe to their e-newsletters. Pay it foward by supporting their fundraising efforts.

    I welcome your shared experiences of losing a loved one, furry or human, during this unique time. I also invite favorite Bo memories via the comments section! Even as COVID changes things, one thing remains true. Love is love is love is love is love. 

    Love and life go on

    By waiting to publish this post, I’ve had the opportunity to gather with NC friends and family to share Bo. What follows is the love spread of his ashes. Yet another outlet for surviving loss and celebrating love during COVID.

    A view from the top of Hanging Rock in North Carolina with blue skies, white clouds and the tops of green trees

    Bo, Auntie Mary and I covered many a hiking mile. This is the endless beauty of Hanging Rock in NC. Soar Bo.


    A woman kneels on a green lawn while a child sprinkles dog ashes by her plastic pool.

    In the backyard of Bo’s girlfriend, Elly. Love sprinkle assist from Miss Olivia.

    A woman walks alongside a young girl as she sprinkles a dog's ashes on green grass in the backyard.

    Olivia made this easy. This sprinkle is because Olivia was pretty sure Bo pooped there. : )

    Bo’s happy place was the water. So many memories. While my son loved the lake, he was skeptical of the dock jump. We got a few in. This one, my beloved son, is for you. Bless you BFF Kay for the capture. *It may help to hit the lower right square to resize to play per viewing device. DON’T MISS THIS. *









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    Danielle McGrath · at

    Deb you gave Bo unlimited love in life and love and honor in this post. I love you, sister. Thank you for sharing your journey.

      cooldeb · at

      Thank you my friend. Thank for the house visits and pool swims. I love you too sister and appreciate your reading about our love journey.

    Pam · at

    Gosh, this absolutely breaks my heart and I’ve bawled reading your blog. I know how much you love your Bo. Wonderful words and expressions of love. He is with you. And love how you spread his ashes everywhere he loved being with you. I know how hard this is, been through several losses of our fur babies and sadly will be going through another soon. God bless you, Debbie. I will miss seeing Bo’s adventures online. Love you so much.

      cooldeb · at

      I join you in the tears Pam. I do love my Bo. Oh and so. And I know he is with me. We haven’t done the beach sprinkles yet. Too tender hearted. I’m sorry for the loss of your fur babies and even more sad you’re preparing for another. Be blessed as well Pam. Love you too.

    Nancy · at

    Precious and wonderful Debbie! You have a heart of love – even with an aching heart. You are the epitome of caring and I hold dear your time of sharing with us as we grieved our family’s loss. My heart is with you as you grieve for beloved Bo. Thank you for this sharing. With all of the difficulties faced today, yours is a model for endurance through love.

      cooldeb · at

      The greatest compliment you can give me is to say I have a heart of love even with an aching heart. That means I’m putting Bo first and he’s smiling in heaven. I’m sorry to hear about your family loss. Prayers, hugs and strength extended to you Nancy.

    Helen Hebert · at

    Oh, Debbie, I didn’t realize Bo’s beautiful life journey with you ended. What a wonderful pet momma you’ve been. I thought you were crazy when you took baby Bo in. God blessed both of you. Your post is so honestly written. Thank you for sharing. Peace to you, always. Helen

      cooldeb · at

      God did indeed bless us both. Especially me Helen. I appreciate you reading and receive your peace and send it back out to you.

    Kimberly Armsworthy · at

    you truely feel the love and I know Bo did. how you were able to write this and give him such an awesome send off, its beyond amazeballs.

      Mary Michaux · at

      Deb, how I loved Mr. Bobie! I was there when you first got him and I was there when you sent him to heaven! You were the best dog mom I’ve ever known and Bo was so blessed to have you. I know that you feel that you were very blessed to have him also and that is true! You two made the greatest couple in life! I’m just so thankful that you had those extra 17 months with him and I was always so impressed with how much time, effort and money you put in to keeping him with you! You gave him one of the best lives ever and I know your life was amazingly enriched by this sweet black dog! Thank you so much for sharing your journey as it was so endearing! ❤️❤️❤️

        cooldeb · at

        I get amazeballs inspiration by incredible people like you Kim. XO.

          cooldeb · at

          And Auntie Mary, Bo loved you too. Thank you for coming to be with us as he went to heaven. It meant the world to the both of us. We were indeed a couple in the middle of a deep, mad love affair. I’m grateful to have had the extra 17 months as well. SUCH an amazing and incredible blessing. Love you and appreciate you.

    Tina · at

    May the memories never fade and bring you many smiles along the way…

      cooldeb · at

      Thank you Tina. I have an endless sea of memories to bring me forever smiles. I appreicate your comment.

    Ronnie and Fran · at

    Dear Debbie, Fran and I are so sad to hear about Bo. We have enjoyed your stories and photos these many years and we know the loss you are feeling. Your memories will keep Bo with you always.

      cooldeb · at

      Thank you for reading my posts and stories. I’m sorry you’ve been down this path too. I appreciate your shared support Ronnie and Fran.

    Theresa Johnson · at

    Beyond beautiful my dear sweet friend. Bo was a lucky puppy, and I know you feel the same. What a beautiful tribute. You’re amazing. Let’s talk again soon. Love you! Xoxo 😘 T

      cooldeb · at

      Thank you for your kind post and sweet words Theresa. I know you share the same Mama love and sorrow. Love you too…

    Theresa · at

    Beautiful Debbie. Bo was a special and blessed dog to have you as his mom and Elly as his girlfriend! Thank you for sharing this special blog with all of us.

      cooldeb · at

      Bo’s other mother. Thank you for being a part of our family and for sharing Elly. I have so many fond memories of those two. I’m grateful they had time together last year. And thank you for having such an amazing and beautiful child in Olivia. She healed my heart.

    Kathleen · at

    Debbie what a lovey tribute to your baby Bo! He will forever be the salty dog licker to me. Love you.

    cooldeb · at

    Thank you Auntie Kathleen. Yes, he was the king of the licky lick and the jumpy jump! We both love you.

    LD Baldwin · at

    Andy and I send you our deepest condolences on the loss of his big bro Bo and hope that you can find peace in the memories of the enormous about of time you shared with this enormously big hearted furry one.

      cooldeb · at

      Thank you Andy and Danielle. What a beautiful surprise to hear from you both. Bo and Andy had some good times together and big Bo so adored little Andy. I miss him every day and talk to him daily as well. We appreciate your support.

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