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Heartache Healing

Heartache Healing

He had a deep love for sleeping in sunshine spots.  You could tell time in our house by his on the nose reminders of meal and treat times. He preferred under-the-chin scratches the best. He adored being Anna’s favorite. For over fifteen years our Oliver a/k/a Ollie a/k/a Ollie Jones has been a steadfast and loving member of our family.

By the time any of you read this, I will have said the final goodbye to my beloved Oliver. Oliver’s life lasted longer than my marriage and he was in both my pre and post-divorce households. On days that my daughters were at their dad’s, Oliver and his brothers filled in as my de facto kids to fuss over and talk at about my day. He has been a source of constancy and companionship through my life’s greatest hardships and many joys.

Anyone who has had a furry family member knows well the worn path of unconditional love between owner and pet.  You know how pets rarely complain, never talk back, and nuzzle their noses to your cheek to dry tears or give kisses. Without fail, they show unbridled enthusiasm every single time you walk in the door. Their favorite sleeping spots, if allowed, are always right next to you.

I haven’t felt a loss like this since my divorce twelve years ago.

My heart has been sprained, strained, and broken before, yet seemingly miraculously has healed from heartache. I know with time the fissure that cracked open today will slowly and surely mend leaving a sacred scar to remember the love that was lost. I know these things. But it does nothing for what I feel in this moment.

While I want to wish away the next fifty days as fast as I can to get to the place of dull ache instead of acute loss, I know that isn’t the work to be done. Grief cannot be fast-tracked despite our best avoidant behaviors and distractions. Grief must be acknowledged and felt. In this deep and sorrow-filled feeling we truly honor the undefinable loss from our lives.

I do not begrudge Oliver my suffering.  I appreciate and revel in the love he brought to our home. At eight weeks old his teeny paw prints started making their mark on our lives. In these last days he was simultaneously curmudgeon and king of our hearts. We mourn you, Oliver, because you mattered so much.

Angela Dunne


  1. You are an amazing writer, from your grace-filled personal accounts like this one, to your important contributions to scholarship on divorce in Nebraska. We are so lucky to have you here. I send clients to your practice every single time I get a chance. Thank you for sharing this with your readers.

  2. Angela, you are an eloquent writer. Thank you for sharing. My heartfelt sympathy on the passing of Oliver.

  3. Dear Angela,
    Hugs, love and light to you and your girls as you cope with Oliver’s passing. 😔 He was a sweet, handsome boy and had a fantastic life with you and your family.
    Caroline and MJ

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