Grieving our Animal Companions

Frequently in my job as an animal communicator, I work with families who are nearing the time to say goodbye to one of their beloved animal companions. It is a tremendous honor and a very tender time for me as a facilitator. I often tell my clients, “We love them like people but they just don't live that long.” In truth, I think that sometimes we forge relationships with our animals that are even stronger than some of our human relationships. Your dog or cat won't judge you. They will always forgive you. They think that you are enough. They have deep gratitude for any amount of time you're willing to spend with them. They will never tell you that you look fat in that skirt or that dinner is burned. They just love you that much. Losing them is a tremendously difficult thing to go through. Though I think that all people grieve differently, I wanted to share a few thoughts about grieving your pets.

Don't grieve until it's time. I frequently see my clients in some pre-emptive grief, as they see their animal companion starting to fail. Try to remember that their souls are deeply connected to yours. When you grieve, so do they. When you are in fear, so are they. Your best bet is to stay positive and stay in a place of gratitude for the time that you have left with them.

Trust yourself. They trust you. Frequently I talk to people who are allowing their ego to run wild with them and put them in a place of guilt and doubt. You are the guardian of this animal and they trust you explicitly. Frequently you will hear people say you'll know when it's time. I don't think that's always true. I find many of my clients in a deep battle between wanting to keep them here for their own heart but knowing that it's nearing time to help their beloved companion pass due to their pain, illness and suffering. Don't wait for them just speak in your ear or slap you upside the head. I'd rather trust their eyes. What are their eyes telling you? Are they in pain, are they unable to bear it? Are you unable to bear it? So frequently in animal communication work, I will have a client come to see me in deep guilt and grief over helping an animal cross over. As we talk with the spirit of that animal, they often tell me but they wouldn't have lived more than a couple of days anyway. Their suffering was ended through a great act of love and courage. I often tell my clients that euthanasia is a gift we can give our animal companions that we can't usually give to our suffering humans. So don't wait until they tell you it is time. They probably won't. You see, the last thing in the world they want is to cause you any suffering. It's a horrifying thought to most dogs to think that they could cause pain to their beloved companions. If you ever have a question about whether it is time, this is a great time to connect with an animal communicator that can help give you some guidance.

Grieve typically goes in steps. There's various steps that humans go through in grief, and I see a lot of my animal families go through very similar steps. I do believe that everyone grieves their own way and should have the right to grieve their own way. Frequently one of the first steps that I see people cycle through his guilt. They always want to know, “Is he angry with me? Did I do the right thing? Did I feed them the right food? Did the time that he got into the garbage 6 years ago have anything to do with this?” And so on and so forth. It is normal to go through stage of guilt because you are the caregiver. I want to try to help let you off the hook though. I see how much you love them. I see how much you fuss over them, how much you evaluate their every move, and how much excellent care you pour into them. I know that you did everything that you could. I know that the decision to put them to sleep was not one that you took lightly. I know by the degree of your breaking heart that you did all that you could for this precious soul. They are not mad at you. They're not hurt or scared or betrayed. They are at peace and they are comfortably released from an ill or injured body. Sometimes, when the end of an animal companions life is full of trauma, I will see clients suffers PTSD type symptoms related to their deaths. If that is the case for you, please seek help. The trauma of losing someone that you love, especially in a terrible way, can certainly trigger a mental health event. Don't hesitate to get medical help if necessary.

Don't feel guilty if you decide that you're aching heart needs a new companion. The truth is it probably does. Don't rush into anything. Wait until you are ready. For some people that's only a week or two. For others it is 6 months. But the truth is they don't want to see you suffer. They do not want to see you withhold bringing a new companion into your life on their behalf. That would be counterproductive to their goals for you. They want you to be happy. They want you to know joy. And they most certainly want you to be able to share that love.

Just as with people you can expect to have your animal companion coming around you in spirit form. Frequently I have clients report that they dream about them, catch a glimpse of them in the corner of their eye, or even feel someone jump up on their bed in the middle of the night. Their routine may remain largely the same for a while as they have no interest in being separated from you.

Please recognize that the other animals in your house will grieve as well. They may be clingy, fearful or act listless and depressed. Be sure that they get the love and attention required to work through their grief as well. I do believe but other animals in the household usually know that that animal is deceased and that they see them in spirit form. Sometimes, a grieving friend may need a chat with an animal communicator to help them understand exactly what happened and what is going to happen now. When deciding to bring a new companion into the home it is a great idea to work with a communicator to help them understand what will be happening and to get them on board as a team mate with you in inviting someone new into your home.

Sometimes I see the same soul enter someone's life over and over again. It is certainly possible to invite the spirit of your deceased pet back into your life. You will know them by their familiarity. They may have some of the same quirks or habits as your old animal. They may just have the same energy or the same bond with you that the last one did. Animals tend to reincarnate much faster than people do with much looser rules on how it happens. I won't claim to it understand exactly the way it all works. What I do know though, is that I have frequently had animals in communication session say, “My soul and your soul are deeply connected. There's no place I'd rather be than in your life and by your side. I will come back.”

Ultimately, when grieving the loss of an animal companion you owe it to yourself to take very good care of your body and spirit. Take a few days off work. Call in your support system. Talk about them, cry and allow yourself to feel your feelings. Try to get plenty of sleep, as grief is so much worse when you are exhausted. You may encounter people who do not understand your grief. When that happens don't allow them to decide how long you will grieve for or what it should look like. Everyone's grief is different. Everyone's grief is valid. Everyone's grief is okay.