It’s 4am and I’m awake. Again. I feel like I should be able to sleep until my alarm goes off. This whole 4am thing is a whole lot less useful than you’d think. I always set my alarm for 6:30am, but that’s not the timeline that my body is on. Alas, it’s very early and here I am writing this instead of sleeping.
I often work with animals that are sick, dying or that have just passed over. Because of this, I’m constantly surrounded by death – or the thought of death. I’ve seen what helps and doesn’t help people move through this part of their life and I wanted to share that here.
First, I’ll say that it doesn’t matter how much I know about death, crossing over, or even how animals think of dying (just FYI, they’ve told me again and again that dying is the next stage in their existence – it’s akin to graduating middle school and moving on into high school). Regardless of this knowledge, a beloved animal dying is hard for anyone who’s had their heart touched by an animal to handle.
Next, a lot of people will feel immense guilt about their animal’s passing. They’ll wonder if they could have done more, they’ll worry that they should have tried harder or taken her less for granted for example. The thing is, as humans, we’re doing our best – even if we know there was more that we could have done. We all make the decision we feel is the one we need to make when we make it. If you have a friend suffering, you could re-assure them that they did their best – and that their animal totally and completely understands this. And it’s true. In connecting with animals after they’ve passed, I’ve never met an animal who said, “I’m mad at him – he didn’t do enough for me.”
Which brings me to my next point: Animals are completely aligned with unconditional love. Does your friend worry that he make a mistake during his time with his animal? Did he think he didn’t act in his animal’s best interest? Does she think that, perhaps, she was preoccupied with the trials and tribulations of living her life? Whatever it was, whatever happened, animals hold total and complete forgiveness in their hearts. They don’t hold grudges in the afterlife – only love (after all, that’s what unconditional love is!)
Also, unlike people, animal’s aren’t afraid of dying. When I connect intuitively with animals around the time of their passing – or even after they have passed, they look at it very much as a fact of life. No animal has ever said to me, “I’m afraid to go,” or “I don’t want to go.” Sometimes, I’ll run into an animal that feels concerned for how their human will handle their passing and then the animal and the human and I talk about that – but death for an animal is not actually a scary thing at all. It’s just moving into that next phase.
Here are some other things that you could say to someone who is dealing with the passing of their pet:
- Your pet intuitively knew how much you loved her
- You did the very best you could and your pet knows this deeply and is grateful
- No matter what the form (animal, person etc.), your grief is real and it’s healthy to allow yourself to feel it – even if other people don’t understand and even if it isn’t pretty.
- Your pet wants to come through with signs from the Other Side for you as you move through the grieving process. Keep an eye out for these comforting messages (while sleeping, or out of the corner of your eye, or maybe even a sound!)
- I’m here for you – whether you’d like to talk about it or not, just let me know what kind of support you’d like. I’ll hold whatever space works for you as you go through this.
In the end, there isn’t a whole lot of talking YOU need to do to support your friend as she grieves. Just offering your support in whatever way your friend asks for it is going to be perfect. Many people will not actually WANT to talk about their beloved animal for a little while, but they’ll want to know that you’re out there, ready to catch them if they need it. Eventually, most of them will need it.
On the flip side, here are some things that would not be helpful. I’m not completely excited about including this list, but I feel like it will also be helpful because sometimes these things seem like they’d be helpful to say (although they just aren’t!):
- It was just an animal
- You an always get another one
- It was just his time
- It’s not like this was your child
- You only had her for a little while.
- It’s been weeks. Most people would be over this by now.
So many of us view the animals in our lives as part of our family. Most likely, if you’re reading my newsletters or blogs you fall into this category (OK probably 100% of the people who read my writing fall into this category!).
Hopefully, you can see that the best way to help your friend is just to be there for them – in a non-judgemental, non-pushy way. Let your friend run the grief show and you meet her wherever she is.
Do you have your own helpful or non-helpful things to say to someone grieving the loss of their beloved pet? Please add to this list in the comments below. Let’s help people understand and navigate this challenging part of life!
Love and Light,