The Physical Loss
The physical loss may seem the hardest part. Who else in your life lets you touch them any time you want? Who else smells so good even when their fur is wet? Who else is so soft? Who else comes to meet you or gives up their spot on the couch for you, if you ask? In some ways we rely even more on the physical aspect with our animals because we don’t have the same verbal connection we rely with other humans. But it’s also because they have a direct affect on us physically. It has to do with the heart.
Animals open our hearts. So when they leave us, it’s not just them leaving physically, but it’s also because the heart which has been so open now wants to close up.
Grief is devastating. Added to it is the response from others, which may be missing. They would be there for you if it was a human family member. Losing an animal member of your family can feel the same way. Even the condolences that others offer may not feel enough.
We need something, then, to bring ourselves along the path of grief. Moving along the path of grief is necessary because we absolutely want our animals to connect with us in joy! Wherever they are in their transition! Bringing yourself to a place that’s so low, can make you hard to find and connect to. Moving along also is something we know is healthy for us. It can and will take Time.
Moving Along the Path of Grief
It’s helpful, then, to find physical ways to move along the path of grief. The heart itself changes with exercise. Having a good cry in turn helps the body change by releasing tears. Simply taking a walk allows your body and heart to open each other up with their respective strengths.
You can also hold your pet’s collar and feel how that object encircled so much love. Take your time. Let yourself visualize your animal’s body within that collar. You are recreating your animal’s love energy by doing this, and if you let yourself breathe, you will feel that love energy coming back to you. Keep letting yourself breathe and you will feel your heart opening.
There are more ways to move along the path of grief in my forthcoming book.
Losing an animal friend can also change your sense of self. Their passing may be the first death that you experience. It may have happened without any warning. It may have come after other traumatic events which have occurred in short notice. You can find you don’t know who you are anymore, as you realize how much of your day was bookmarked by your dog greeting you at the door or your visit to the barn with apples. Or simply the smell of cat litter in the bathroom! The daily moments you barely took notice of are no longer around to mark the edges of who you thought you were.
You know you can’t change what has happened. But finding simple ways towards control in a situation that has felt out of control is an action you can take. You can even ask your angel animal to partner with you. What small action can you practice each day? Make it really simple and pleasing. Make an agreement with your animal in spirit that you will do this with their help each day in the next week. It could be writing for 5 minutes, reading a poem or on really bad days, just getting dressed. The practice adds up. Let them be with you, calling them in by name or with a nearby photo. This starts to allow you to gain control over this huge change that you didn’t ask for.
The Hardest Change
Some people say “I will never adopt another animal, ever again. It just hurts too much.” The hardest change comes when you begin to say, “I am willing to go through this again.”
Their passing caused you pain. But their life caused you great joy. When you begin to say, “I agree to go through this again, the joy and the pain,” you begin to shift your heart’s attention away from the passing and towards the gift of their life with you. Remember the joy you shared together. Being willing to share that with another, can show the animal how much value their life was to you. ©2012
Christine was the guest speaker on Animal Wisdom Mastery Hour Presenter – Animal Spirit Network in November, 2011 sharing her experiences on “Animals and Grief.” She’s currently writing a book on her experiences with animals who are going through or have made the transition from embodied to inspirit form.