Irene, I'm glad that others can understand the importance of the dogs - we don't have children, so the dogs are our kids. We just got them last Father's Day (an unintentional coincidence, and one that I commented about to Dan not that long ago... now I wish I hadn't), and we constantly commented how lucky we were to have them. Quite often Dan would comment out of the blue, "I love our puppies." (they're about 3, but they're always "puppies" to us.) The dogs were included in the "survived by" part of his obituary, and everyone who knew us agreed that that was how it should be. Which makes the guilt of leaving them alone harder, sometimes.
I actively scoured the 'Net for an interactive grief forum, which is how I found this site, and I'm glad I did. I initially wanted to find somewhere that I could blog about Dan without being on one of my "usual" sites, but I'm glad that I found these forums, as well. It has really been helpful to see that the things I'm experiencing aren't uncommon, and even though the exact path is unique to each of us, there are lots of common landmarks and scenery as well.
Chris, yes, it does get better. Linda mentioned that everyone grieves differently, just as each of our lives and the manner of death of our loved ones are different. While I was reading her message, I thought of the highway, with all the vehicles going at different speeds. Some drivers are going slowly and carefully feeling their way along, and some are driving quickly, with assurance. I suppose the answer to "when does it start getting better" will be determined by what kind of a driver you're going to be. There are some road marks, and I'm not sure where they are exactly, that each of us has to reach before we can actually see that it's getting better. If you look for them, you will see little steps toward that goal along the way. For me one was yesterday, 7 weeks from the day of Mark's death, when at the end of the day I realized that for the first time the hours leading up to and following his death passed without me dwelling on his final moments. It was probably because I was concentrating on staining the living room floor (a job he promised to do), but I hopefully believe that Tuesdays to follow will begin to blend in with the other days of the week.
The thought just came to me, to continue the analogy, that we've got to keep driving! If we pull over on the side of the road we won't make much progress, and I think it must be very easy to get stuck somewhere along the way, wallowing in our misery.
Finding a goal to focus on has been helpful for me, although getting rid of the junk Mark accumulated over the last few years is a necessity rather than a pleasure, as is having to complete a 50-hour training course for my job by the end of March. Having the dogs to love and care for are a big blessing in your life, and they will help you along the way.