As a hard-hearted double-macho bastard (and, more importantly, so far a lucky one), I've not experienced much of it in my life. Curiously enough, I know a bit about it, though, as my dad runs a local church bereavement support scheme so I've sort of absorbed some of that knowledge down the years.
As regular readers will know, my cat had to be put to sleep on Friday and that made me very sad. But I'm worried I'm not being sad enough. Yes, I wept like a child as soon as I got back from being brave at the vet's. And yes, there's the standard things: was that noise him? Is that him there? I'd better not leave that out, he'll do that in it and so on. But, and it pains me to say it, at the moment every time I remember he's not about any more it's coming as a bit of a relief as much as anything else.
For the last year or so of his life he'd become a bit of an invalid, really. He'd done it in a cunningly gradual way, so as to trick us all into not seeing the obvious truth that his quality of life had gone. I don't, won't and haven't felt bad for making the decision I did, even for a single second. It was the right thing to do. However, I increasingly find myself in turmoil about whether or not I should feel sadder.
In many ways, Charlie had been a spent force for a long time. A bit of a burden, even. I can't begin to tell you how much I hate myself for thinking or writing all these things, but they ARE true. It didn't mean my feelings for the old bugger changed. I suppose that all of the pain and suffering (on both sides) in his final months makes his passing easier.
And yet this nagging bloody thought still won't leave me be. In a way, I'd like just once to walk into a room and miss him so much I just burst into tears. But I really don't think it's going to happen. I honestly don't know whether or not I'm willing to accept that.