Nobody talks much about what happens after a pet dies. Most grieve privately. It’s just what we do. We feel the loss deeply but there’s more beyond that. There’s time, time that we fill with healing, memorializing, celebration of lives, pictures, memories, scrap booking, stories to be told and re-told, a lifetime of feel good moments and more love than one can even imagine, flowing between the tears and the sadness, bringing both worlds together.
There’s an ocean of goodness beyond death. Even in the face of departure, there’s hope that it will go smoothly, and afterwards there’s anticipation of the remains coming home. It brings closure, more healing, a valuable reminder of the adage – ashes to ashes and the final piece of the memorial – whether it is in the garden, an alter in the house, or popped on the kitchen shelf for company or as part of a beautiful piece of jewelry that we keep close to our hearts.
When a pet comes home for the last time it matters, and that’s a good thing. We must remember the good; force ourselves out into the sunshine after the rain. It’s what they would want. It’s what love would have us do.
When we bring a pet home for the last time, people fold into sadness once again that they have put on hold until this moment. Life has a way of making us keep it together out in the world, but in the privacy of our homes, we are allowed that freedom to grieve and when that cedar box finds its way into their hands, it brings the sadness up to be embraced, memories to be rekindled.
When a clay paw print moves between fingers, memories fly like fireflies behind the eyes, burning them a little, holding both sorrow and joy and feeling the possibility of moving beyond the loss. Some find great comfort within the touch. Some feel more gutted than ever as they are reminded of how their paws used to feel on their chest or in their hands, or the sound of them across the wooden or kitchen floors, or the muddy footprints on the carpet. A gazillion paw prints over the course of a lifetime.
Yet we would never want to disown the feelings. We would never not want to be sad. For it is in the observance of their absence that we remember what used to be, and it is in the remembering that we heal, and it is in the healing that we open our hearts to the possibility of loving once more.
Welcome home sweet one, you have been missed.