One of the most difficult things we deal with as human beings is the loss of a loved one—be it a close friend, a member of the family, or a beloved pet. My family and I recently dealt with the death of one of our own canine family members, Ramsay (whom we affectionately came to know as “Bubbies”).
Bubbies was an Alaskan Malamute and a gentle giant. When we adopted him through an animal rescue organization six years ago, he had actually been scheduled for euthanasia and had less than 24 hours to live. My family and I drove for well over an hour just to meet him and it was love at first sight. I knew we were destined to adopt him when my wife looked up over his waving plume of a tail and whispered, “We just have to have him!” So we happily adopted him—and one of his kennel mates too, right on the spot.
From that day on, we were blessed to have him in our family. He was calm, well-behaved, and somehow seemed to have a seasoned “old” soul aura about him. When he suddenly developed a limp in a hind leg this spring, I took him to the veterinarian, thinking that he merely had something in his paw. Instead, he was diagnosed with an advanced state of bone cancer. We were utterly devastated by the news. Although he spent his last several months bravely navigating on his three good legs, he never lost his enthusiasm for life, his love of us—or his great fondness for stalking and chasing squirrels in the yard.
Shortly after we made the agonizing decision to spare Bubbies from further pain and suffering, my son and I sat quietly with him by our backyard pond. It was one of our favorite places to sit and that afternoon seemed strangely still—even the squirrels were respectfully absent. A visiting veterinarian carefully administered one injection that would let Bubbies fall asleep, then, once he was asleep, another that allowed him to escape the bonds of this world. As my son and I sat with Bubbies, appreciating him, loving him deeply, and sharing in the transition of his soul, it was truly one of the most beautiful—yet bittersweet experiences that anyone could ever have.
Despite the relative ease of his passing and the wonderful opportunity we’d had to say goodbye (for we spoiled him rotten on his final days with us), our sense of loss and sadness was profound and lasting. Of course, it helped to share our feelings with our family, friends, and one another. The love and comfort from those moments helped fill some of the emptiness that weighed so heavily on our hearts. I’m fairly certain that the individual consciousness of animals transcends death, just as it does for humans, but the thought did little to fill the void we felt—and still feel today. I do gain some comfort by talking to Bubbies during quiet moments when I feel his presence nearby. I remember how it feels to wrap my arms around his shaggy neck ruff and feel the softness of his ears. I remember the warm, close smell of his fur—and I feel so very grateful for our shared experiences and memories. I know it may seem strange to some, but I can’t help but feel he still hears and appreciates my thoughts and words at those times.
It’s now been several months since our Bubbies has passed and we’ve since adopted another beautiful dog soul into the family. Through a number of synchronicities, I’m just as certain that she was meant to be with us as I was about Ramsay when we first met him. The possibility hasn’t escaped me that perhaps, at some level, he knew this and moved on in order to make room for her. I don’t really know—but in any case, I’m deeply grateful that she has found a home with us.
Over time, I’ve come to realize that the pain, sadness, and grief of loss are just more things to be experienced, accepted, and appreciated through our daily living of life. As difficult as they may be to endure, it’s these and many other emotions that bring a depth, a fullness—a richness to life that can’t otherwise be experienced. It’s also important for all who grieve to know that the bitter ache we feel with each loss will eventually be healed—if not through the joy of fond memories and the passage of time, then certainly through the love and care of those who share the loss with us.
While the sadness of their passing may always tug at our hearts, I find great comfort in knowing that this separation from our loved ones is only temporary—that one day we will all be reunited. I don’t wish to hasten the day, of course, for I wish to experience as much of this life as I possibly can in the meantime, but the understanding that we will one day be rejoined makes the time we spend apart so much more bearable.
So if you are grieving or suffering a loss of your own at this moment, please take heart. We have all known, in some way, the emptiness you now feel. All of us understand and share in your sense of loss. And please know that our strength, our compassion—and indeed, our love, is always yours. Just like Bubbies, you can count on it.
Please feel free to redistribute, repost, or otherwise share this post, providing it is credited to https://rememberinginfinity.wordpress.com.