What should I feel when my pet dies?
One word is wrong in the title of this post.
Can you find it?
It is the word “should”.
There is no “should”.
There is no “right” way to feel.
There is no “right” way to act.
What is, is.
What you feel, is what you feel.
There is no more than that.
There is no meaning to your reaction.
If you cry, yell, are silent, laugh, focus on your work, get mad, turn towards friends, turn away, that is just the nature of what is.
We all react differently and there is no “one” way.
Just let it all be.
Be who you are. Be how you are. Do not allow it to mean anything about yourself. No judgment that you are good, that you are bad, your should feel this, you shouldn’t fell that.
Your cat, dog, pet, just died. Yes. It may be surprisingly hard. Allow for that. Allow you yourself.
Pet Love and the Holidays
Fall is settling in. The air is getting crisper. Our hearts turn towards spending time with those we love. And with that comes those we have lost. Sometimes a dog or cat is an addition to the family. Sometimes a dog or cat is your family.
In either case the death of a pet is difficult. Often made more so when we are watching all the pet costumes, all the gatherings of loved ones. With the feeling of love can also come the awareness of the absence of love. The stronger our desire for love, the stronger we feel what we have lost.
Now is not the time to slip into more sadness. You are already sad enough. Take the love from around you and allow it to lift you up. Allow it to float you along through the memories. And reach out to others to find the support you need.
If your only companion was your pet, make it a mission to receive the love offered by other pets. Allow your neighbors pet to love you. Go to the pound and allow those dogs and cats and bunnies to give you what they so want to give.
Remember to receive…
How Sadness and Joy Can Exist in the Same Moment
Ho ho ho’s and happy songs.
Family and hearth.
Candles, Menorahs, and twinkling lights.
You can still find joy in these when you are suffering the grief of a lost pet. We have so many emotions. They do not take turns. More than one can exist in the same moment. You can be walking in the mall surrounded by all things holiday, buying the prefect present that will bring intense happiness to your niece or nephew, and, in that same moment, profoundly feel the sadness of the pet you lost.
They can both be there in the same moment. You do not need to cancel out the happiness out of respect for the sadness, nor do you need to push down the sadness to experience the happiness.
Allow whichever one wants to bubble up, bubble up. Allow yourself to feel. There is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings. You do not have to deny yourself holiday joy because of a death or loss. You are not doing a disservice to who you lost. Rather, they love you. They would be overjoyed at your happiness.
So allow it to fluxuate. Allow it all to happen as it happens. If you only feel sadness, seek out joy. Listen to a song that opens your heart, makes you laugh. Love those who are around you and feel the love back.
It’s all going to be there. All emotions. And they can all be there at the same time.
Find rest in joy.
p.s. I heard this today and wanted to share: Be kinder than necessary, everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle in their journey.
Any time of year can be a very difficult time of year without your pet. There may be an empty space, a lack of wholeness, a hyper-awareness of what is missing. But it doesn’t have to be.
There is a bittersweet joy in sorrow. The memories of the wonderful times shared. Those memories can come bubbling up when we are at our saddest and it may feel strange. As we will remember joyful times right in the middle of sadness. You can have both these emotions at once.
A wonderful idea would be to consciously include the memory of your pet in your summer, winter, spring, fall holiday planning.
*Maybe create a little altar.
*Create an ornament with his or her name on it to hang on the tree.
*Place his or her picture by the fireplace.
*Include them in your prayer before your meal.
Do this lightly. Do this with love. Do not do this if it is just too hard for you. Everyone had a different level of mourning. Honor yours.
Whatever you do, take good care of yourself.
Loss and celebration.
The timing is bad. You are torn in two different directions.
There is the happiness of family, of friends. Or just sometimes there is the happiness that the television, the news, the ads, all tell you you have to have.
Where ever it comes from. What ever they tell you. You are not always going to be in that place. You may be joyful on the outside, but still feel the loss, still carry sadness within you.
It sometimes is harder when it happens durning good times, as the ‘supposed to’ comes up. You are ‘supposed to’ be happy, you are ‘supposed to’ feel joy.
Really? Well, sometimes you just don’t. Especially if you have lost a dear loved little one. And, sometimes, others just won’t understand.
It’s O.K. It’s o.k. to feel sad, to feel the loss, to feel the pain. We don’t have control over the timing of events in our lives.
So, please, do not force yourself. If you need to take down time, if you need to be alone with your mourning, go ahead. Find someone who supports you, who you can pull aside at a celebration and be honest with your feelings. Seek out those who you know are there for you.
Here, we all support you in your time of loss. We all get what you are going through.
Give yourself the gift of peace. Of rest. Of recovery. Give yourself the gift of allowing yourself to feel.
Dark Days and Losing Our Pets
Darkness. What is outside matches what is inside. Our hearts go dark with loss.
Empty. Cavernous. Hollow.
Hard to see the light, we just want to mourn our darkness. Sometimes it is warm in that place. No one else understands how we feel and so we find safety from being wrapped in the blanket of darkness.
Let it wrap around you. Feel it’s softness. Feel its gentleness. Allow it to give you comfort. Release yourself into it. Breathe. Imagine the darkness getting smaller and smaller around you. Until it is only the blanket that is dark. Allow light do grow like the dawn. Soft. Gentle. Just as much as you can handle. Do not push for more.
And let it be. For now.
Pain. It happens. We do not want it to, but there it is. Sometimes we can get so caught up in it. In a way we need to. We need to mourn. We need to feel that loss. When the time is right, we need to let go of that pain.
Helping others is one of the best ways to get out of our own heads. When we give, we receive.
Last night I had my own pain, my own fears. But what got me out of bed in the middle of the night was the sound of a dog crying. I got up, went outside and saw a German Shepherd puppy (well, full grown, but a puppy still). I got dressed and went to her. She was so happy to see me. She easily came with me. I threw on a jacket, put her in the car, totally enjoyed her thrill of sitting in the passenger seat looking out the window. It took me out of myself and my own problems. When I took her in to the pound, we checked her and she was chipped! How wonderful. She will be reunited with her home. I hope her family is happy, too.
What I got from this experience was a chance to get out of my own pain by helping someone with theirs. It is an instant reward. Give it a try. See what happens. I guarantee the results!