I know how devastating it is to lose an animal companion and to make it worse have people say they were ‘just a horse’ or ‘just a dog’ (cat/rabbit/guinea pig/rat…) I understand the depth of love and connection we have for our animals. I have experienced deaths of humans and animals, and in 2017 my dog and my horse died within three weeks of each other. From all these deaths and thinking I was going to lose my dog three years ago I have learned a lot about grief, about acceptance, about our attitudes and perspectives and about what they want for us before, during and after their passing.
We can grieve for losses other than death. If you have to give up your animal companion for any reason that can be just as painful, any separation or loss affects us just as much and is just as important to us.
Grief and love are the opposite sides of the same thing and you can learn to work with the love to heal and move forwards, and to connect with your animal. Grief is not to be denied, it is to be felt – but felt with a kind compassion and not an all-encompassing despair and darkness. There is a path to grief that is different for all of us and that takes its own time in each of us. To be fully and mindfully aware of every part of the journey with love and compassion will help us see it for what it is and will help us ride with it with more ease. Our animals do not want us to be in the deep and dark place of despair and desperation. They want love for us and for us to feel that love, to find the love in the grief. They want us to celebrate their lives and to stay connected with you after they have transitioned. This is easier for you to do if you are not in despair. They are around you. They still love you.