Rufus was a love bug. That’s the best way to describe him. If he had been a person he would’ve been one of those people who glided through life, carefree and happy, never saying an unkind word about anyone. True, he was skittish around strangers, but I felt honored to be the one he trusted and the one to whom he gave all his love. When his older brother, Reed, passed away from cancer in March of 2016, he and I became even closer and I remember saying to him, “Reed had to leave us, but you and I still have many years together,” and I took comfort in that while I grieved my Reed.

Then the unthinkable happened. Just 7 weeks after Reed passed away, Rufus was also diagnosed with late stage cancer and at the tender age of 10 I had to make the agonizing decision to let him join his brother at Rainbow Bridge. I was so overcome with grief that at one point I didn’t think I was going to be able to stop crying. Dr. Lori Lowery had come to the house to help Reed pass and I knew that she had to come help Rufus, too. When I answered the door that morning, the look on her face was one of shock and empathy. And it was that empathy that helped me through the ordeal. She never once said something like “that’s just how life goes sometimes” or “when it’s your time it’s your time.” She was upset and confused as to how this could be happening, just like I was, and I felt that my feelings were validated. There’s a difference between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is nice, but it was the empathy exhibited by Dr. Lowery that made me feel that she truly understood the horrible ordeal I was going through. I also turned to the Caring Pathways website, which has some great links to grief counseling resources, including some really great articles on the stages of grief. I found them very helpful in the extremely sad days right after Rufus’s passing.

I can’t say enough about Dr. Lowery, the Caring Pathways team, and the resources they provide. I have recommended them to several friends and talked them up to many more. I’m not a religious person, but I thank God that Caring Pathways exits and I feel blessed that I was able to be comforted by them during an extremely trying time for me.