Many of you know how much I simply adore animals. The quote I shared with you this week rings very true for me. I truly believe my heart opened and my soul awakened when I loved my first pet. And it continues to open more and more as I welcome each one into my heart, home and life. This article is about the love and the loss of these furry angels that enter our lives.
I lost my best friend Willow in 2009 – he was my “heart” dog, which led me to begin writing a book about this very topic. Many of you know that I entered a worldwide spiritual author contest and made it to the top 25 entries. I have not finished the book yet, but do little bits here and there. It is my goal to have it completed by the end of 2015.
The reason I began the book is because in my grief I discovered that society often treats this kind of loss as less important than others. After my dog’s passing I often heard the comment: “He was just a dog.” When I took my Pet Loss and Bereavement Counselling certification, one of the interesting things I learned was statistics have found it takes approximately 6 years to fully move through the grieving process. One of my mentors, Dr. W. Sife Ph.D. said this: “We grieve as deeply as we love.” And we love alright – we love our fur babies the same intensity and depth as our human relationships.
Love is love – loss is loss. Period.
Our pets can become our children, our best friend, our most devoted companion, trusted confidante and greatest teacher – if we let them. They know us like no one else does, and the love is pure and unconditional. I would look at my Willow and say to myself, “If I can take this deep and unconditional love that I have learned with him, and extend it out to all humans in the same way – then I have truly learned to love.” We love them in such a giving, compassionate and non-judgmental way and they teach us lessons we can only learn through bonding with them.
We never forget our loved ones – furry or human. Loss is not about getting over anything, but moving through the grieving process the best we can – not pushing it away or burying it. We need to talk about it, reminisce, look at photos, cry, be held and heard. Seeking unconditional love and support from those who will not judge our grief or attempt to hinder us in any way is important.
Telling someone to “shhhh” when they are crying does not allow them to let go of the energy of grief. It stops them in the middle of their healing process. Our loved ones hurt when we hurt, and may feel uncomfortable with the way our pain makes them feel inside, and perhaps it stirs up something within them. They may feel helpless – it might even feel as though it would be easier for them if we didn’t cry. But, we need to let the tears flow – for a time. The love we share with another being deserves the time it takes to grieve the loss. We might try to mask the grief through busyness, which only defers it for a time. It will show up somehow – maybe not in tears, but in some sort of physical representation like depression, anxiety, stomach issues etc. It is okay to feel deep loss – it is part of being human.
I also found that platitudes didn’t work with me and although well-intentioned, are honestly – hard to hear. People tended to say things like: “Oh, you will get over it soon,” or, “Don’t worry, things will be fine.” In the middle of all the pain and grief, these statements are not helpful. It is agonizing to experience this kind of pain and acknowledging the pain is authentic.
Therefore, be selective with whom you share your stories and your grief – you need the support; not encouragement to just get over it.
Most of us get (maybe) 3 days off and that is only for human loss, not the loss of an animal companion. I feel this also needs to change in our society. Loss is loss and taking time off to heal is essential.
If someone you know is experiencing loss – hold them with your arms, hold them with your words, hold them with your loving gaze, let them cry and be heard. Just be there. In whatever way you can – even if it is loving them from afar when you cannot be there in person. Simply offer your unconditional love – that is what sustains us and helps us heal.
I wish you an abundant winter filled with much love, passion and adventure. As always I am here to support you in this life journey and love your feedback. See you soon!