How to Find Peace After the Loss of Your Pet
Beauty in Death
With loss comes emptiness. Something missing. An empty space. We look at this empty space with sadness, with longing. We think there is less of us now. A hole in our being.
What we tend to miss is something huge. That empty space does not have to stay empty. We can choose to fill it with love. We can choose to fill it with beautiful memories and celebration. We can have it overflow with abundance.
It is in our power to fill our lives with love. Even after some love is lost. There is so much love in the world. We can find it in so many ways.
Grief can put up a wall against all this love. Grief can make us alone. But we are stronger than that. We can open our hearts. We can allow all the love in the world inside.
We just need to let it.
All these are present in life and intensify with death. Love at times is grief. Love is a passion. We are passionate in death. There is beauty in death. An elevated awareness of our capacity to love. To know we are human. Stay quiet in this place to honor it. For the stronger our grief, the more we know we have the capacity to love.
What has more value than that?
*ALLOW. Allow yourself to feel whatever you want. I have said it before, there is no ‘should’ here. There is no way you are ‘supposed’ to be during your grief. It comes our in all different ways. Allow it.
*ACT. Reach out where you can. You know your friends/family who will give you the most support. Let them support you.
*DON’T ACT. You don’t ‘need’ to do anything if you don’t feel up to it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
*BE. focus on the moment. Feel your body. Look around you. At flowers. Nature. Friends. Other pets. Just be with them, no thoughts, no expectations. It will allow you to get back into the moment.
*LAUGH. If you can. It can change brain chemistry and help get you through this pain. Don’t feel guilty about laughing. It is natures way of keeping us from getting lost in our sorrow.
These are small things. But they can help get you through this time of sorrow and grief.
Whether a pet dies or there is a major tradgedy with many people dying there is loss and pain.
It is not necessary to compare, things are going to happen in degrees, no matter what.
In any instance of loss you can find a place of strength. You need to sit quietly and listen for it.
You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of others.
You need to take care of yourself so that you can take care of yourself.
Sit. Quiet. Take that time for yourself.
Allow yourself to feel, but don’t judge it.
Allow yourself to release those feelings.
New ones will come flooding in to replace the old. They may even be worse for a while. But allow those to pass as well. Keep doing it.
Find yourself, the part that stays the same during the passing of these feelings.
That is your strength. That is who you are.
That place of strength will allow you to get through everything you need to.
That place will allow you to stay calm as you help others.
That place is where your real healing will start.
Take the time. Check in with yourself often. Allow your feeling to be there. Just don’t hold on to them. Don’t cling. Allow them to pass. Allow new ones in. Feelings are by nature, fleeting. If we do not hold on.
Try to let your feelings pass through you, over and over again. As you let go, you will become more aware of the ‘you’ that stays.
When we lose a pet it hurts. Awfully. There seems to be no room for anything besides pain.
Besides wishing it were different.
We cannot seem to find the emotions that are triggered by the happy memories. They are not there yet.
Or at least it seems that way.
They are there. They are underneath that grief. They are waiting to surface.
And they will.
Slowly. Or in spurts.
That emotion is there. It is wanting for you to feel it.
And you will.
The happy emotion will eventually win.
So when you feel it bubbling to the surface, if you can laugh, even make a joke, go ahead.
Allow it to start it’s progress up.
It might not be steady, you might not have any flashes of it at all right now. But I am telling you, the joy of that love will win. Love is the strongest emotion, if we let it be. It will come up and heal you of your sadness and your pain. Love remembers the happy. Love remembers the funny. Love remembers the sweet.
And we know that is the gift our pets have given us.
Spring. Regrowth. Renewal. Again, no greeting at the door. Again, no can of tuna to open up. No walkies. Sometimes it looks like everyone else is getting it but you. You are in that dark place that is in such high contrast to the green and flowers and the promises of warmth and love.
The cycles of the year move on. And we can’t always be on track with them. The contrast makes the pain more difficult. ‘Why me’ can always come up. The truth is, ‘why me’ applies to everyone.
On this earth we are made up of both joy and sorrow. Loss and gain. Life and death.
Pema Chodron has a wonderful book called “Getting Unstuck”. It speaks of a concept called ‘shenpa’. (I always refer to it as ‘shempa’ as the Three Stooges character makes me start it off on a happy note).
Shenpa is about being present to how you are feeling, but putting no meaning to it. The meaning is what is most painful. The loss of your dog or cat ‘means’ you are alone, and you are suffering and in pain over that. The loss of your dog or cat ‘means’ that you will no longer get to experience that joy and love. The loss of your dog or cat ‘means’, well, it can get very personalized. I have had thoughts, when I lost Peekay, that it meant I would never again have that love in my life. Ever. And that was doubly painful.
All this is a big source of suffering. Learning to just be present to the feeling and letting the meaning go, can help.
We cannot avoid pain and suffering. We cannot avoid loss. We can learn to have awareness of all these other meanings we attach, and let those go.
It is spring. There is joy and rebirth in the air. It might not be yours to have right now, I am not going to pretend otherwise. But allow yourself to just feel without added meaning. It won’t happen overnight, but it will help you join in with the others to celebrate sooner.
Staying aware of where you are.
Death can bring on emotions very suddenly. So suddenly that you can be swept up by them without knowing what is happening and you simply react. That can make pain so much harder, as you are bringing pain in from all the hurts you have suffered, and it all gets piled into one huge hurt.
So big that it can take you over. Sometimes the pain of ‘everything’ gets projected on to the real loss you are feeling, and it eclipses your true feelings.
That is where you want to be. With your true feelings of loss. The actual pain of losing your pet. I am not going to kid you and say there will be no pain. There will be. It is a process we all need to go through in experiencing death of a loved one.
Since we need to mourn, since we need to experience this sadness and loss to be able to have any kind of closure, it is best to really be clear on the loss itself, and to not bring in all these other “stories” that both add to the pain and subtract from the honoring of your relationship with your pet.
When you can stop to take a breath, stop to hear your thoughts, listen to them, bring them to what is right in front of you. Nowhere else. It will help you to get present in this time of overwhelming emotions.
p.s. I made an urn for this little guy, Cowboy. Isn’t he just precious?
Peace and the Death of a Pet
When a loved pet dies, often the last thing you will find in your heart is peace. Grief, anger, sadness, confusion, these thend to be what comes up first. And with all this noise, we forget that our pet is at peace.
They are in a good place. A peaceful place. A loving place. No matter how they died. That part is over now. In the past. Even though we carry the memory of their suffering, we have to remember that they do not. That is the blessing. While we are not at peace, it is hard to ‘get’ that they are. Yet that is what is most important, isn’t it? That our pet is not suffering, is not in pain.
No matter how they died, their spirit is peacefully with us. If we sit quiet enough, we can feel that.
Sit quietly. Take a few breaths. Feel your heart. Feel the love in your heart for your dog, for your cat, for your pet. How does it feel? When you find that place of peaceful connection stay with it a bit. It may be fleeting, you may not find it right away. But you will.
Whenever you can, find a place to be quiet, to just sit, to have your heart connect with your love.
It will get stronger. It will get more powerful.
You will find peace.
A new day after loss.
Each day we get a chance to start over. Actually, each moment is a chance to start over, but we, as humans, like the symbolic nature of the morning.
A new day is a wonderful thing. What are you going to take on? What are you going to wish for? What are you going to commit to?
Forgiveness. Let go of the past. Both for others and yourself.
Love. We have endless amounts to give. Let’s give it all and see what happens!
Joy. Release past sadnesses, allow them to stay in the past. Open up to love in the future.
Service. Pick up a dog off the street and find it’s home. If you can’t find that, find a new home for it. Feed the feral cats. Catch them and spay them. Volunteer some time at a rescue. You will add so much to your life.
The list of possibilities is endless.
What are you going to choose?
Lots of love and peace to you in the new day,
Humor in Times of Loss
Humor can be an excellent way to release emotion. Even in sadness and grief, some laughter can be a healthy reprieve. For me, silly jokes are the best. I hope you can find a moment to feel joy with these. It’s o.k. Your pet loved it when you laughed…
* Two antennas met on a roof, fell in love and got married. The ceremony wasn’t much, but the reception was excellent.
* A jumper cable walks into a bar. The bartender says, “I’ll serve you, but don’t start anything.”
* Two peanuts walk into a bar, and one was a salted.
* A dyslexic man walks into a bra.
* A man walks into a bar with a slab of asphalt under his arm and says: “A beer please, and one for the road.”
* Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other: “Does this taste funny to you?”
* An invisible man marries an invisible woman. The kids were nothing to look at either.
* I went to buy some camouflage trousers the other day but I couldn’t find any.
* I went to a seafood disco last week and pulled a mussel.
* What do you call a fish with no eyes? A fsh.
* Two fish swim into a concrete wall. The one turns to the other and says “Dam!”
* Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft. Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it too.
* A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. “But why,” they asked, as they moved off. “Because”, he said, “I can’t stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer.”
* Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him. (Oh, man, this is so bad, it’s good)… A super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.