The last goodbye: Remembrances

By Tracie Korol

Our spiritual beliefs can play a part in how we process our pets’ passing. Those who practice a religious faith may turn to their church, temple, or synagogue or might seek out other religious and spiritual supports.
Humans have a fear of death; animals do not. Humans are also fear-based; animals are not. We tend to project our human emotions onto our dogs.
I believe that animals do not view the moving from one life form to another the in the same way we do. As a Reiki practitioner, I look at an animal’s passing as its “transition.” I also believe, even when they are physically gone, they don’t ever leave us.  There is a gypsy saying that if just one person remembers a loved one, that loved one is still alive.
If you are willing to look at death as a natural, profound and even beautiful part of life, it becomes easier for your animal to relax and either gets well or leave peacefully.  I often counsel, when the time nears, to sit quietly with a Best Friend, listen as best you can, make peace with your animal friend, remember your life shared together, thank them for their time and devotion and finally, let them know that you are willing to let them go.
Selfishly, the day before Bea died, I told her she couldn’t go, that I needed her and that it was too hard to see her fail. I put the burden on my friend to handle my feelings by requiring her to continue living.  The next day she told me she had to go. I took a picture of her at that moment. There is no mistaking the look in her eyes.  We spent time that last day in thanks, and love and with Reiki, I could ease her transition gently. While the loss of Bea’s physical presence was crushing, the connection to her spirit helps me put the whole process in perspective.  Her energy transitioned from a physical form that I was able to share for 17 years to one that I am now aware of, but just can’t see.
Memorializing our pets is a way to preserve memories and honor our canine friends plus, it helps to process our loss.  Rituals can focus, center, and calm us and convert something painful into something less painful. Ted Kerasote writes in his book, “Merle’s Door,” of the tribute paid by his entire community, to Merle, his amazing, yet run-of-the-mill dog, upon his death.
Merle was sent on his journey in a Native American tradition but the list of remembrances is endless. For instance: light candles, plant trees or flowers, write poetry or music in tribute and memory to your Best Friend. Create a memorial plaque: I still have the marker my son, then aged 9, made for Oblio, a testament to heart, creativity and amateur carpentry. It’s one of the most precious things I own.  Create a special place in your home for ashes, photos, flowers, and mementos such as collars or favorite toys. Or, send a donation, in your pet’s name, to an animal-related cause.
Planning for and subsequently dealing with the loss of a canine companion is possibly one of the hardest, most painful situations we encounter. Preparing for the loss will be difficult, but might be the best decision you can make to help your friend transition peacefully and with honor.  Once he is gone and your pain is omnipresent, remember that with the gift of time, you will recover and the pain will go away. Wonderful memories will remain.

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