I’ve written before about pet loss, the grieving process for both owners and for grieving pets, and even whether we can expect our animal friends to be with us in heaven. Whatever your personal belief system, the universal commonality is if you love pets, it hurts to lose them.
I suspect most readers are familiar with the Kubler-Ross stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. The author agrees that those grieving for a pet experience similar stages but has an alternate interpretation. He suggests the grief process is a soul journey of seven stages, progressing from lost soul to becoming re-enchanted with everyday life. He writes that the soul is the deepest, most precious part of us, and where we encounter God, and that, “…if we listen to our soul, it can move us through seven stages of development which, in the end, leave our hearts singing again. The prerequisite is that we turn within and listen…and the soul can do the rest.”
How absolutely lovely!
Father Paul’s seven stages, as with Kubler-Ross, can be experienced in any order and various lengths of time, depending on the individual. They are: feeling alone after the death; dealing with “why me?” learning to receive and offer compassion; realizing an overall purpose; sorting through past life experiences; returning to daily life; and committing to a new level of aliveness and reality.
All of us who love and care for dogs and cats understand that we will outlive our pet, and ultimately have to say goodbye. But knowing that doesn’t make the reality any easier. Quality care for aging or ill pets can prolong their lives only for so long, and not all pets die in their sleep. When the joy of living is gone, when pain replaces pleasure, and when your dog or cat is ready to leap forward into the next adventure beyond your side, you can grant her the greatest gift of all – a merciful death.
Grief is normal, and a testament to the many years of love you shared. When a beloved animal friend nears the end of life and ultimately dies, grief can be overwhelming and paralyzing. This moving book offers essays and guidance how to understand deep sorrow, move through it, and eventually use the power of that emotion to transform lives.
How have you managed your pet losses? What has helped you–or a friend–work through the grief? Are there certain things that have eased the pain for your pets when they’ve lost a loved one? Please share!
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!