Sunday, May 26, 2013

What Happens After Death?

By Rev. Eliza Blanchard, Interfaith Spiritual Advisor
Sometimes I’m asked what happens to the soul of a pet when it dies. I don’t discriminate between species in life or in death: we all want to know where our best beloveds are, that they are free of pain,that they are safe, happy, loved.  Dog in the field

I assure people that their animal companions are loved, that they will always be loved, and that I’m as sure as I am of anything in this world that they are free from all suffering. Where those spirits are, I say, I don’t know. I can’t prove that there is a heaven, an afterlife, or rebirth. Many people believe that life leads to one of those states of being. Some believe that heaven is reserved for humans, while others believe their pet has joined other family members there. And for some, the death of a beloved challenges belief, bringing forth confusion or doubt.

Having doubts is normal, especially when mourning. We wonder why illness exists, why loved ones suffer, or why loved ones die. We may even fight mortality, reject it, or get angry at Whomever made such a world. Often such questions lead us to examine our values, review what’s important, and what commands our devotion. Here is an opportunity to seek out a trusted, friend, clergy, or counselor – someone to listen thoughtfully and reflect with you.
Our struggles can help us renew meaning.
Cat Silhouette
I am sometimes asked what I believe about the souls of animals. I believe that - as physics teaches us - the energy doesn’t disappear. It can live on in and through us, as abiding spirits, as heavenly companions, as stardust, or as new beings born in another country. If you have lost a beloved pet, take the time to imagine where such a vibrant spirit is right now. Where did that vibrancy and affection get channeled? How might it move through the universe? Where might it find a home? How do you stay attuned to it? It is through that connection that our love is everlasting.

Know and cherish is the extra-ordinariness of life and the humility imposed by mortality. Bow to the mystery of existence. I believe in our powers of reason and in the greater understanding that science often leads us to.
Beyond the limits of reason is where
our deepest questions lie.

What I have witnessed many times is that

Love is the Answer.
Rev. Eliza Blanchard serves as Interfaith Spiritual Advisor to New England Pet Hospice & Home Care.  An ordained Unitarian-Universalist Minister, Eliza helps those of all faiths as well as those who follow no particular religious tradition find hope, meaning, and peace while caring for and mourning the loss of our beloved animal companions. 
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