Loss of a Pet
How one reacts to the loss of a pet is as individual as we are.
In the evenings after I’ve turned out the lights and before falling asleep, I almost always “see” faces floating above me. It doesn’t matter if my eyes are open or closed, they are there. These faces are those of both humans and animals. And sometimes I see whole scenes with people and animals. Once in awhile I recgonize my own deceased pet and converse with them. But no matter who it is, I know they have come to me either with a message to pass along or just want to be seen by someone who can see them. If they let me engage in a conversation and I know the person they are wanting to connect with, I will pass along what I can gather.
I’ve experienced the loss of many of my pets over the years. Most recently my shepherd Pasha two months ago. My work with pets is often with animals that are sick, dying or that have recently passed away. Because of this, along with seeing faces every night, I’m constantly surrounded by death – or the thought of death.
What Helps and Doesn’t Help
I’ve seen what helps and doesn’t help people move through the loss of a pet and I want to share that here.
First, I’d like to say that it doesn’t matter how much I know about death, crossing over, or even how animals process death, (FYI, they’ve told me again and again that dying is the next stage in their existence – it’s kind of like graduating from high school and moving on to college), a cherished animal dying is hard for anyone who’s had their heart touched by an animal.
I’ve seen people feel immense guilt about their animal’s passing. They’ll wonder if they could have done more, they’ll worry that they should have tried harder or taken him/her less for granted. But guess what, we humans are doing the best we can either way you look at it. We all make the decision we feel is the one we need to make when we make it. If you know someone who’s suffering, you could re-assure them that they did their best – and that their animal totally and completely understands this. This, by the way, is true. In connecting with animals after they’ve passed, I’ve never met an animal (or human for that matter) who said, “I’m angry at him – he didn’t do enough for me.” That’s just our own negitive stuff in our own heads.
Animals, unlike many humans, are completely aligned with unconditional love. Does your friend worry that she made a mistake with his animal? Did she think she didn’t act in her animal’s best interest? Does she think that, perhaps, she was preoccupied with living her life? Whatever it was, whatever happened, animals hold total and complete forgiveness in their hearts. They (again, humans too) don’t hold grudges in the afterlife – only love. After all, that’s what unconditional love is. Right?
Unlike many people, animal’s aren’t afraid of dying. When I connect intuitively with animals around the time of their passing – or even after they have passed, they look at it very much as a fact of life. No animal has said to me, “I’m afraid to go,” or “I don’t want to go.” Many times the animal feels concerned for how their human will handle their passing. Death for an animal is not a scary thing at all. It’s just moving into that next phase.
What To Say and Not To Say
Here are some other things that you could say to someone who is dealing with the passing of their pet:
* Your pet intuitively knew how much you loved her
* You did the very best you could and your pet knows this deeply and is grateful.
* No matter what the form (animal, person etc.), your grief is real and it’s healthy to allow yourself to feel it – even if other people don’t understand.
* I’m here for you – whether you’d like to talk about it or not, just let me know what kind of support you need. I’ll hold whatever space works for you as you go through this.
Know that your pet wants to come through with signs from the Other Side for you as you move through your grief. So keep an eye out for these comforting messages. They are ofter seen while sleeping/dreaming, or out of the corner of your eye, or maybe even a sound!
On the flip side, here are some things that would not be helpful. I’m not too keen about including this list, but I feel it will be helpful because sometimes there are words that seem like they’d be helpful, but aren’t.
* It was just an animal.
* You can always get another one.
* It was just his/her time.
* It’s not like this was your child.
* You only had her for a little while.
* It’s been weeks. Most people would be over this by now.
In The End
In the end, there’s not a whole lot of talking you need to do in order to give support to a friend. Just the offering of your support in whatever way your friend asks is going to be perfect. Some people won’t want to talk about their animal for a little while. They’ll feel better just knowing that you’re out there, ready to catch them if they need it. Eventually, most of them will need it.
So many of us view the animals in our lives as part of our family. Hopefully, you can see that the best way to help your friend is just to be there for them – in a non-judgemental, non-pushy way. Let your friend run the grieving show.
Do you have your own helpful or non-helpful things to say to someone grieving the loss of their cherished pet? Please add to this list in the comments below. Let’s help people understand and navigate this challenging part of life!