I’m not very good of letting go of a good thing. If it’s good, I want to keep it, but sometimes it’s not my call. I’ve experienced a lot of loss this year; four of my pets have passed away and for each I’ve had to let go. Ready or not, the end still comes. I’ve tried to determine what lessons these endings have brought me, and I’m still trying to figure it out. Lesson one: expensive medical care helps some, but it can’t save everyone. Anyone who has paid the veterinarians huge sums of money, but the pet dies anyway can relate to this one, I think.
Lesson two: My pet’s needs come first. It’s not the time to be selfish or complain about costs and schedules. I need to do whatever I can for the animal’s comfort.
Lesson three: Anyone who has paid the veterinarians huge sums of money, but the pet dies anyway can relate to this one, I think. It’s normal for human hospice patients to receive aggressive pain management, but when I asked for pain relief for my cat, I was treated like a drug-seeker. The cancer was painful, but in some twisted way, the veterinarian acted like pain wasn’t an issue. I described my pet’s discomfort and behavior, but no relief was given. I turned to hemp CBD oil, which did not require a veterinarian’s prescription. It helped make my cat comfortable so that he could stay with us a few more weeks.
Lesson four: gracefully releasing a pet to death is easier said than done. I think that I shouldn’t have so much power over life and death. What if I put my pet down while he is still learning his life lessons, clearing things for his next lifetime? What if I am too soon and interrupt his intentions? And what if I am too late and he is suffering without relief? I found that decision to be a hard one, as I watched him wasting away with cancer until he said, “I’m ready to go.”
Lesson five: the pain is worth it. The pain of losing a pet is small, compared to the richness it adds to our lives. I hate losing a companion animal, but I hate living without these wonderful family members even more.
Lesson six: sometimes they return with messages or moments of connection after they pass. I’ve felt the energy of my deceased pet brush up against me. and I have seen their spirit out of the corner of my eye. They check on us after they’ve gone.
Lesson seven: there can be love afterwards. We don’t immediately buy a new pet after one passes away. We’ve lost four pets this year and brought home only one new one. But we waited until after the grief had begun to recede before we could welcome a new pet into our lives. River, our new pup, has enriched our lives in wonderful ways. She isn’t anything like the dog that had died, but she has made us hers in her own unique way. We can love again.
Lesson eight: sometimes they come back. When the connection is especially strong, our pets leave their old, diseased bodies and return to us as new pets, in fresh, healthy bodies. I’ve talked to many people who believe that their pets have reincarnated and returned to them in new bodies. Some of my pets I recognize as having been with me before. They may change species, breed, or sex, but they come back. Our relationship is too strong for death to come between us.