Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's supposed to be hard

     When your pet is ill and dying, it is very difficult.  Your heart breaks to see your friend in pain or suffering in any way.  You feel helpless.  You struggle with the unknowing of what is to come and what you can do.  You want it to be over, yet would do anything to have your pet healthy and young again.

     It is hard.  It is supposed to be hard.

     It’s hard because you love.  It’s hard because your pet is a beloved member of your family.  It’s hard because you don’t want to say good bye.  It’s hard because you can’t and don’t want to imagine your life without your companion.

     But our purpose in life is not to glide through easily, without any bumps, without any hardship.  Our purpose is to find a way to get through the hard times, find the gifts in every experience, and grow from those gifts.  And then do it all over again.  Every hardship is an opportunity to grow.  Every  tragedy is an opening.  Every sorrow increases our capacity to love.

     Your pet’s life is a precious gift.  He or she brings you and your family joy, love, companionship, humor.  He is the one who greets you at the door every day with a wagging tail, who lays beside you in bed when you are ill or sad, who purrs from simple joys and who constantly reminds you not to take life too seriously.

     Her final illness and death is a gift, too.  She gives you the opportunity to care for her.  She doesn’t shy away from your touch or your compassion.  She teaches you how to graciously accept loving care when it is needed.   In her death, you will experience a being walking quietly, peacefully and willingly towards death and passing into whatever comes next with dignity.  In the time after her death, you have the opportunity to listen to what you need to grieve and mourn her death.  Unlike human deaths where many expectations surround what you will do at and after the death, with an animal you have the opportunity to listen to your heart and honor your friend in a truly personal way.

     Don’t ignore these gifts.  Open your heart and allow the sorrow and sadness to be expressed.  Feel the love and the pain.  Engage with your animal and participate in his transition.  Honor your pet in a way that is meaningful and respectful.  Know that you have done all you can to assist him in his final journey and become part of that journey with him.

     Your pet gives you the strength to do this hard work and in doing so, you will emerge stronger, with an even deeper capacity to love and a greater appreciation for all of the gifts you have been given by your loving companion.  It takes a leap of faith, but most everything worthwhile in this life does.  Dare to take it.

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