orange and white cat

8 Lessons About Letting Go

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orange and white cat
Russell Sprout succumbed to lymphoma this week. He was always so robust and independent that it’s hard to believe how he wasted away with his illness.

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. 

silky terrier in snow
We lost Nutty to ketone acidosis and a kidney cyst January 2, 2017.

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.

Gray and white cat
Jackson was a street cat who came to us with feline leukemia. He loved having a home for the two years with us before the leukemia took him.

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.  

orange and white cat
Russell Sprout’s cancer became very uncomfortable and even painful. Hemp CBD oil helped him reduce the pain and inflammation.

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.”

african grey parrot
Ruby might have had a liver problem, but she showed minimal symptoms. We found her dead on the bottom of her cage in October 2017

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.

orange and white cat
Russell nurtured our backyard garden with great care.

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.

African grey parrot
A week after Ruby passed, I clearly heard her voice tell me, “nice!” A bird of few words, I was touched that she wanted to be sure I knew how she felt about me.

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.

apricot standard poodle
We welcomed River into our home in February 2017. Here, she camped with us to watch the eclipse in Ravenna, Nebraska.

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.



  1. Wow. My condolences. Gee, that is rough. Perhaps they come to you for the TLC, the special (and emotionally) healing touch you’ve been gifted with. Maybe your calling is to see them through those last chapters of their life. And I think you meant hemp oil, not hamp. Feel free to delete this part of comment. Hope the new year brings healing of its own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t believe I allowed a typo! (Forehead slap) As soon as I get to something better than my phone, I’ll fix it. Thank you for letting me know! As for the pets, well, they are easy to love. Eventually, though, they all leave.


  2. What a tragic year pet wise. I feel for you very much. Your vet was a stinker…..possibly with her own agenda. I hate that….the pet should come first.

    You are the first one I’ve seen that questioned herself following a euthanasia…I thought it was just me..did I put her down to soon? Was I too long in waiting? What if by some miracle she could have lived longer? I dread doing this but having to watch my other cat in the death throes was horrible too.
    So you see I relate very well to you my friend….you did what was best…try not to question youself. Your post has touched me deeply.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Years later, I still wonder what I could have done better. Some people are so quick to put their pets down because it hurts to watch them die or it is inconvenient. If a pet is going through their own lessons and life reflection, timing is critical. It’s a hard subject, but one we need to think about. Thank you for reading and understanding.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m so sad 4 pets in one year. Please feel the huge healing hug I’m sending to you. All of your points were perfect, especially # 5 because they are sooo all worth the effort, the sadness and the grief after we lose them for the richness to our lives was priceless and precious. And I do believe they connect with us when they can (like your Ruby). You are such a good person Karel. You make a huge good difference in so many lives (animal and human), including mine. I’m grateful we’ve connected xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this beautiful post, I read it with tears in my eyes. How blessed your pets were to live a life so loved in your care. I also needed to read it because of myself and due to my own loss of my Simba, beloved cat that I had to let go in September. Your words comforted me greatly. I also have felt her presence many times after her physical being was gone. Last time this happened was in our daughter’s dedication in our church, just as I went through deep spiritual toughts in my head..there, in her dress I saw just one hair and I knew she was there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad the post was helpful for you. It’s so hard for all of us to loose our loved ones. It’s so sweet when they come back to comfort us and let them know they care. You’re kitty could come back to you. When you’re ready, ask her to return and then give her time to reveal herself.


  5. Oh what a hard year for sure. I feel that uneasiness every time Bree starts to cough or I find a new “Lab lump” on Mazie. I never question what it costs to keep “the Kids” healthy and happy. Thankfully I have a vet who is very in tune to animals and how aware I am of my Kid’s health so there is never an issue of if we are on the same page when it comes to treating them. I am a firm believer that those that have gone before come back to let you know they are O.K. and in your time of need. Glad you stopped by my blog so that I could meet you 🙂
    Marty’s Mom

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always try to make sure that I have enough pets that there is one or two to comfort me if I lose one of the others. It helps some, but there is always a void.
      Everyone’s process is different.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful boy and your other losses too. Your vet is awful to refuse pain meds for your kitty when he was suffering, not all vets are like that.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sometimes I think it’s a wonder it’s not more prevalent…our cells replicate DNA so many trillions of times, the accumulation of mutations is inevitable, and natural selection selects for the mutations that replicate the best…hence, cancer. Our bodies do a surprisingly good job of keeping it in check as long as they do.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Cancer has forced us to let go of pups. We get a new one immediately. We can’t bring back the dead and we couldn’t help the situation. We can’t even save ourselves from that fate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand. The void they leave is so palpable, and a new pet helps channel all that love that has no place to go. I have enough pets at this time, that I have others to comfort me. It makes the process less urgent.


    1. Our last sugar glider died a few years ago. We miss ours too. They had so much character and a sweet energy. That’s how I found your blog – I was looking for other sugar glider owners. They are a unique pet; we finally had to get all the males neutered because they bred like rabbits!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. If I type much, I’ll cry again! (poop)… I’m so sorry for your loss. I get it… OUCH… You are a Gem. Maybe you were their reward for a lesson already learned? 🙂 I like to think this. Our home is so full of love that it’s a gift to any animal who comes to be a part of it. Your home feels like that too… Maybe in this life, they got to explore your unconditional love.

    CBD Oil. We are exploring this also. Mom’s Main-Coon has arthritis.

    Sending you love hugs and comfort…


    Liked by 1 person

    1. We used the CBD to help Nutty, who had anxiety issues. It was a godsend for the whole family for him to be less anxious. The CBD has also been good for my senior miniature poodle, who has arthritis. We’ve been able to keep him moving and active without prescription pain medication. No side effects to the CBD like the prescriptions. I like the brand I linked to because they have the terpenes, which I think are critical. They have beef and cheese flavor, which our cat liked. We gave him the dog formula, because it was what I had on hand. I recently discovered that they have added a cat formula too. But honestly, in the beginning, we just gave our dogs the human formula. I think it is all the same, just the flavors differ and the dropper is plastic for the animals. I have tried some of the more commercial dog treats with CBD and saw no effect with those, so I don’t recommend. Of course, the CBD must come from hemp, as the THC in marijuana is toxic to dogs. Since marijuana is legal in my state, I always feel I need to put out that safety message….


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