Healing After The Loss Of A Pet
“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” -Anatole France
Our pets are family and gifts of unconditional love. We believe we choose our pets; however, they choose us to show us the way of unconditional love that is unchanging and stable. A bond is established with our beloved companions that are comforting, loyal, and faithful; and our lives become richer and fuller. They can be the best therapy when you feel unloved or unlovable by showing us that love is our natural state of being. The loss of a pet can be devastating, and healing is essential for our well-being.
For almost 20 years, my beloved cocker spaniel, Spencer, was by my side through many life challenges and transitional events. Possessing an affinity for Asian music, he had a quiet gentle spirit. He would look at me with those piercing brown eyes as though he could hear my thoughts and feel my feelings. One night while in a deep sleep, I saw him running at high speed and barking like a young vibrant pup. It was surreal! I knew in my heart that his time was coming to an end. I would often sit on the bench adjacent to my Meditation Garden with him right beside me. The day before he passed away, Spencer was in the garden as though he was searching for something. The next day, he walked down to the garden and laid in his chosen spot. The following day, he passed away. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and there was a nice cool breeze in the air. It was a good day for his transition.
Even though our pets may no longer be with us physically, they are always with us in spirit. We can embrace healing by allowing time to grieve, following the path of unconditional love, appreciating memorable moments, and establishing daily rituals and new routines.
Allow time to grieve
Grieving is essential to recovery from loss. The five stages of grief by Elisabeth Kubler Ross include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is essential for us to be mindful of our thoughts and feelings to promote optimal healing. Journaling can be a great tool for acknowledging and expressing feelings during the highs as lows of the mourning process. Be lovingly compassionate with yourself. Reflect not only on the loss but how your life was enriched. Discern what is essential for your well-being. Take advantage of resources available for coping with grief. Consider joining a support group, seek coaching, or bereavement counseling for intensive support.
Follow the path of unconditional love
Unconditional love is comforting and healing. Reflect on the abundance of love shown by your beloved pet. No matter what mood I was in, I could always count on Spencer’s gentle soft nudge as a constant reminder of unconditional love. Our pets teach us how to love without conditions and expectations. In our daily lives, we can carry these lessons in our hearts as we connect deeper with ourselves and others.
Appreciate memorable moments
Pets show us how to be present in our lives and can immediately shift our mood when we are trapped in the past or future. Live what you have learned from your pet. Establish a special physical marker in loving memory. Create special times for family members to share photos and favorite stories. During times of healing, these special memories make your heart smile and bring joy.
Establish daily rituals and new routines
The loss of a pet creates a significant void in your life. However, it opens up space for new activities. Avoid getting stuck in grief by creating daily rituals and new routines. Daily rituals are considered to be internally motivated with intention, purpose, and positive outcomes. For example, meditational practice can be a ritual. Routines are tasks that are done daily. For example, an exercise routine that refreshes your body. Take small steps to create and do what feels good and right for you.
Be mindful of caring for yourself during times of grief. Our pets show us unconditional love and it begins with you. Treat yourself well and make self-care a priority. Let the loss of your pet be a reminder that each breath of life is a reminder of the importance of the present moment. Life and love are eternal in spirit. As stated by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, “Death is the final stage of growth in this life. There is no total death. Only the body dies. The self or spirit, or whatever you wish to label it, is eternal”. Even though our pets are no longer with us physically, they are with always with us in spirit. Therefore, pay attention to signs and synchronicities that may be messages from beyond. Your pet may be communicating with you. Be grateful for the time spent together and the beautiful relationship you shared.
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