Saying Goodbye to our Pets

We have all had to face the loss of a loved one. When the loved one is a family pet, the grief is unique.

Just last week, I said goodbye to my Brittney Spaniel, Huckleberry. It was sudden and unexpected. One day he was running in the fields and snuggling with me on the couch and the next day, he was suffering from grand mal seizures due to brain tumors. We made the hard decision to put him down. Holding his head as he died, I whispered into his ear how much I loved him and thanked him for loving our family so well. By evening, he had passed. It was heart wrenching.

I’ve always been an animal lover, but dogs hold a special place in my heart. And Huckleberry, well . . . he captured my heart the moment I met him. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye, and his death was sudden, but enduring this also revealed a sadness I’ve been carrying around this season from too much suffering and too many goodbyes.

The emotions around launching my two children and finding myself unconsciously listening for them to come home; my dear friend calling me with the news that her cancer had spread to her lymph nodes and she was in the fight of her life with two young children; my aging mother known for her intelligence and wit now dealing with dementia; and another dear friend saying goodbye to her husband of over forty years. Life can be so very painful, can’t it? And fragile!

That kind of pain has the power to nearly take us out. But I’ve decided not to let it do that.

I am channeling the pain, but choosing to love. Huckleberry was a great example of this. He offered unconditional love, total acceptance, steady friendship, loyal companionship, and protection. Aren’t animals incredible? And they do all this with entirely nonverbal communication.

As I grieve the loss of my beloved pet, I have decided that I want to love more like he did. Imagine if, when people spent time with us, they felt unconditionally loved and totally accepted for who they are. What if they felt our loyalty and safety? I think the world would be a better place.

So, in the week following our family’s loss, when the grief is still fresh and I still look for him as I settle in on the couch or take my walks, I remember what he taught me, and I ask God for the healing and the strength to help me love people better.

This grief will not be wasted. It will serve as a catalyst to embrace a suffering world and to offer empathy, kindness, and love.

P.S. If this was a painful blog for you to read, leave me a comment below and tell me about your lost pet. I want to support you as so many are supporting me and my family.

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