Never dreamed I would be writing about pet loss.
In response to a question asked by sincere and devoted reader, Nicole, I offer these thoughts, feelings and insights from living with pets.
I feel lucky most of my pets lived long lives.
Bonding with Pets
No matter how pets came into my life we developed strong bonds. I felt a sense of shared connection. My caring for each pet grew over years.
Bonding requires more than feeling of love for a pet. Care giving: feeding, playing, refreshing bedding and companionship all strengthened my feelings of attachment.
I relished a delight in noting each pet’s personality likes, dislikes and quirks.
Teaching and training each pet proved an intimate adventure. So I know that pet loss for some people hits super hard.
Pet Loss impact: The Death of a Pet can hurt as much as the loss of a relative
Living an Ever Expanding Life
I practice meditation and spiritual disciplines. Opening to new adventures, cultures and ways of thought helped me with emotionally charged experiences.
All traditions teach unique ways to handle grief and loss and ideas on an afterlife or eternal existence and connectedness. I read about some and experience others.
After travels in parts of Asia, studying mystical traditions, I became convinced that there is One Life.
Belief, Faith and Trust
- I believe that we do not live alone.
- We know more than we think we do.
- We know beyond thought on a feeling, embodied and knowing level.
Albert Einstein said, “The greatest question you can ask is: Is the Universe Friendly?”
Building Resources for Life and Loss
As a young adult I made friends with people of all ages. I enjoyed the friendship of young children and elders. Sadie, a very lively 80-year-old, helped me understand that a long life would mean loss yet her openness and certainty of a greater good helped her live joyfully. Loss does not mean permanent sadness.
I met Sadie after I suffered a head-on collision and long recovery. Great good came of this “accident.” I found myself the right place to meet a large spiritual community. In a time of pain and loss, I found joy. For 8 years after that, I longed for a pet but lived in an apartment. I tried gold fish…sadly they died.
A New Life, Town and Dog
After moving to northern California, we eagerly searched for a dog. We were not looking for a puppy and hoped for a rescue dog. We got lucky with Smiling Moon-dust Dawning. Dawn suffered loss of her first three homes before she turned a year old. Several families returned Dawn to her breeder three times! Here is my story how we got our first purebred rescue dog, Dogs Speak.
When we took her home, she seemed scared. Dawn would not come out from under a table for a day. For the next 24 hours, she sniffed our lawn but would not go potty.
Then she became a total delight, learned everything we taught, loved walking, playing, sitting close and riding in our car. Dawn lived 16 years. Finally, Dawn became disoriented, didn’t seem to know who we were, bit us, forgot to eat and lost weight.
We faced a tough choice. As a family we took her to our vet and stayed with her until her last breath. We shared our tears.
Our other dog, Nabisco missed her very much. He kept trying to find her in the house and in our yard.
In another four months, we lost Nabisco too. Heartbreak.
Our seven-year-old daughter wanted another dog. What a painful idea. I knew there would be no replacing our pair of Smiling Dutchmen, Dawn and Nabisco. We looked at photographs of our dogs and cried. The house felt so empty. Our child drew pictures of our dogs in colored pencil. She had grown up with them, her only siblings.
We scattered a handful of Dawn and Nabisco’s ashes in our garden, lit candles and sang songs. That summer, when our girl kept asking, I finally took her for a visit to a local animal shelter, saying, “We’re just looking but not going to get a dog today.”
It felt wrong to get another dog right then.
I didn’t know there was groups who helped people cope with pet loss.
- Supporting the Bereaved: Light a Virtual Candle (aftergadget.wordpress.com)
- End-of-life choice can be act of love (sacbee.com)
- Mourning a Pet’s Departure (memorials.sweetgrassceremonies.com)
- Local Pet Owners Seek Closure With Funerals For Deceased Animals (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Coping with Pet Loss (sdtherapy.wordpress.com)