When The Bond Breaks: When Our Pets Leave Us
My mission is to companion those on their grief journeys when their beloved animal companion dies.
I’m a Grief Counselor, specifically a Pet Grief Counselor. I’m also an ordained Animal Chaplain. And I have come to see that the deep sorrow and pain of losing a pet are not therapy issues, though they often seem so to the bereaved who can feel she is going out of her mind with grief.
The loss is a spiritual one, one of the soul.
There is no pill for the sadness.
The broken heart is not a mental health issue.
I don’t ever try to fix or take their away the pain of the loss. Pain has to be faced , to be gone through so we may get to the other side where healing waits. In our grief-avoidant society, our impulse is to bat the pain away. But we must move toward it; not away from it.
Grief and pain must be named and expressed during the grief journey if the flow is not to stall.
And we never speak of “closure.” Why would we? Who wants to close such love?
Those who share their lives with an animal know beyond words that the bond between them and their animals is profound. We are discovering that the connection is neurological, emotional, social and physical.
How we walk, the tone of our voices, where we sit, when we go out and how long we are away – all are determined and affected by the connection between us and our animal companion.
It is said that they are the “angels of our better selves.”
That they bring out qualities in us that few humans can.
Our pets. animal companions, open us to uncomplicated love. Patience. Sacrifice. Kindness of the deepest kind.
They change us forever…and when that bond is broken , severed by death, the pain is bone-marrow deep. The light goes out, the grievers tell me, and we are changed forever.
All that we were, had become because of the love, is now in danger of being lost.
Many of us fear reverting back to our less loving, more limited selves. And that is why we “hold on,” and why we feel grief for years-and why we need to see that death does not end the love. It transforms it to one of sacred memory, even as we long for the physical presence of our beloved pet.
In time, with support and patience and work, gradually, the mourner moves along the Grief Path and begins to see the light of healing.
Sees the outline of a future without her beloved animal companion.
Resolution: the living of life around the loss, the hurt. Incorporating it. Learning to love again and dance again, if only with a limp.
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