My beloved dog Laddy passed away... here's my tips on dealing with grief

Beauty correspondent Emer O'Callaghan lost her dog recent and is heartbroken. Here she shares her tips for dealing with the grief
My beloved dog Laddy passed away... here's my tips on dealing with grief

Emer and Laddy.

WE lost a few great legends recently — Gay Byrne, Mariean Finucane, Larry Hogan and not forgetting our own Cork legend, Niall Tobin.

I had my own loss too, my beloved dog Laddy passed away in my arms on December 30 and I and his sister Princess are simply heartbroken.

Anyone reading this who knows what it is like to rear a dog from six weeks and spend so many years with them in your home, as part of your family, will know my loss and pain at my fiancé Brendan and I having to dig a grave and bury my loyal companion. It really is something only us dog and pet lovers know.

It is rare I mention others in this column, but I really must thank our amazing vets, Conor and Shona at Goold’s Vet, and all their staff for how great they were to us.

I know people who never had a dog, and plenty reading this will never know the love and loyalty a dog brings to our lives.

My Laddy was only eight years old and I have never had a dog that died so young, but which made such an impact on my life, it’s fair to say only the good die young.

They say a dog is man’s best friend. Well, whoever wrote that can come into our clinic any day and listen to the many women cry who lost their dogs. And, just like the radio, their dog was often their only company all day as they did their housework. We bond with our dogs as they bring us love and loyalty.

I feel a huge loss around our home without Laddy, he had such a big presence, it’s very hard not seeing him walk me out as I head to work and be sitting on the bottom step of the stairs waiting for my return.

I am very blessed to still have his sister Princess, but she too is lost without him. My dog is grieving, just as I am. But every day we are getting stronger and getting on.

Research shows the grief of losing a family pet is equal to the loss of a family member, and it’s something employers and others need to be more aware of.

Sadly, grief is part of life, I am very blessed to have such a great fiancé, family, and friends to support me, they are so many who do not have this and their grief must be far worse.

I am blessed that one of the guys on my swimming team is a retired grief counsellor and I had a good chat with him as I wanted to know more about the effects of grief for this article. He told me everyone’s grief is different and when we grieve all our past grief is also stirred up. Many people often say grief is harder as we get older, and this is why.

He explained how grief comes like waves, and I find this too. I cried so much the week we lost Laddy and he told me this is good, I am working through it.

We also spoke about my dad, who passed away when I was four, and how he gave me my love for dogs, and we spoke about that connection and how that childhood grief is coming up for me too.

I came away with a far better understanding of grief and why we have to try work through it, and not suppress is or try avoid it. Like anything in life, I can only talk about my own experience in the hope someone reading this will find it helps them.


I can tell ya this, I wouldn’t have won any beauty competitions after Laddy passed away. I was fortunate to be off work for Christmas as the thought of putting on my make-up and uniform would been some chore.


I was so emotionally drained I was glad to go bare-faced minus make-up. I pride myself on being very real, I’m not fake, and I did not want to put on a false front.

While many people’s skin will breakout in these stressful times, I just looked pale and tired, like Casper the ghost with dark eyes.

I hadn’t much appetite, but my complexion was lifeless. I lashed on my Dermalogica Bioliumn Vitamin C serum twice a day under my moisturiser to bring some life back to it.

My neck looked old from the drop in weight so I lashed on my dehydrated skin mask once I got back to work and felt more mind for it.


We are so quick to make assumptions and judge others with really no idea of what that person is going through. I had days I struggled to brush my hair but that passed too.

I broke all my nails as I scrubbed the house to stay busy, I started on the garden then, and if anyone saw the state of my hands by the time I went back to work, they would not have thought I was a beautician.

I’m nourishing my nails back to life again with O.P. I Cuticle oil and hand cream. Going back to work and routine helped me.


My sleep was broken for the two months before Laddy passed away, as he was on diuretics so he was out to the garden a lot at night.

I found this broken sleep pattern hard to break. Thankfully, I’m back to full night’s sleep now and it’s from lavender oil burning in my bedroom and working back in more exercise.

I also drank camomile tea at night to help relax. I used lavender shower gels and body creams also to help my mind switch off.


I love being outdoors and walking with Princess really helped us. It is so good for body, mind and soul.


Homemade soup, stews and warm foods are nourishing when grieving.

Many turn to food to suppress grief or to eat their emotions, but foods full of sugar and salt will only make you feel worse.


I had dark circles, lines and red eyes. The first thing I did once I got back to work was a good eye treatment to soothe and hydrate them.

I used eye gels and eye masks and i stored them in my fridge as they were extra soothing when cooled.


They say time is a good healer and that is true, every day I feel stronger.


I can’t stress enough the importance of talking to family and friends about how you are feeling. Maybe a counsellor would be a help too.

Emer O’Callaghan won Irish Beauty Therapist of the Year And works at Emerald Organic Beauty Products Ltd, trading As Emerald Beauty Clinic, 021 4368996 A multi- award winning 5-star clinic, 2008-2020, see

SPECIAL OFFER: All next week, our award- winning Dermalogica Dry/Dehydrated Skin Facial Is reduced from €85 to €60, includes a Full skin Analysis, Eyebrow Shape and treats. To book call 021 4368986. Free parking validated for clients.

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