One year ago, Sammy crossed the Rainbow Bridge. His ashes rest peacefully tucked in a walnut box and wrapped in a piece of his favorite blanket. The box sits on my bedside stand next to Harley’s ashes. Both will be forever loved, forever missed.
For those of us who love our pets, their loss is devastating. Many don’t understand the depth of loss and grief we feel when we lose our pets. Grief is grief. Grief is real and makes no distinction between human and animal. But, we are not taught the importance of grieving and acknowledging our feelings surrounding the loss, especially when it comes to pets. Why is that?
Humankind, in general, believes we are the superior species but are we? The answer depends upon our definition of superior. Are we superior because we talk, and think, and are capable of reason? Who’s to say animals don’t talk, think, and reason? Just because we don’t believe animals talk, think, and reason doesn’t mean they don’t. I believe animals speak to one another and us. I also believe animals think, and to a degree, are capable of reason.
On the last day of his life, Sammy spoke to my husband and me, without the benefit of words but we understood nonetheless. His big, brown eyes looked into mine, and I knew he was telling me that day was his last. Did I want to acknowledge that? No, I did not, but the message was clear. We want to hold onto our pets, to all that they bring into our lives. Letting go of them is difficult, and it hurts. And, as much as it hurt to make the decision to euthanize him, we made the right decision. It probably would have been only a few hours, maybe a day, but we did not want him to suffer. He tried to rally and we knew it was more for us than for him. He was ready – he knew we were not. In his final moments, my daughter and I held him as tears fell onto his soft fur. Crossing the Rainbow Bridge he knew he was loved.
I think, in a lot of ways, our pets are the way we want humans to be. Our furry companions (and I realize there are other kinds of pets, but the furry kind are the ones with whom I have had experience) are selfless creatures, loving to a fault, merciful, grateful, and forgiving. I believe they are God’s teachers sent to live out the essence of Divine Love in front of us. The world would be a much kinder, gentler place if we loved as our pets loved.
It’s important to honor and respect the passing of our pets who have given so much and expected so little. It’s important that we allow ourselves to experience the feelings of grief and sadness when we lose a beloved companion. Grief is not confined to mourning humans…..