I can’t get away from it, she said. It’s right there demanding my attention. And she was right – she could neither escape from her home nor the sadness that was engulfing both herself and her family. Their beloved dog had passed away just a day ago and here they were trying to not only make sense of everything that had happened so fast, but also how they were going to navigate the path of grief in the time of Corona.
The path of grief is as unique as the pet and the special relationship they have shared with their person and the expression of that loss takes many forms and needs many avenues to extend itself. Some of those avenues are getting out into nature, going for a hike, going to the beach, getting away for a weekend, meeting up with friends or groups that can support, making that experience quite vital for healing, for those unique emotions to have their individual expression and to not feel alone. Yet with so many of those options not readily available, what can we do to honor the grieving process, the life of the pet and the human who is navigating this unchartered terrain for the first time?
If one isn’t mindful, a day spent inside without organization can be a bit messy and incorporate the grieving process; it can literally be turned upside down. But if one puts into place some order for their day, breaks it down into segments, it becomes manageable – and that includes expression of sorrow, tears and of course – joyful memories.
Allowing time in the morning for mindful reflection as to what has occurred and how one is feeling, with some breathing, mediation and some prayer can help set the tone for the day. Then with things to do, inside or outside, the day can take form, keeping ourselves busy enough to put our mind to work and also to give one the freedom to cry when necessary. Then when evening comes around we can incorporate a ritual or two that can be one of releasing what has stored up during the course of the day.
Regardless of our attention to things, grief builds up inside. After all it’s just energy and energy of any kind that’s not released in a mindful fashion can turn inwards and stagnate. So to help alleviate that internal energy rituals can be super helpful, as they allow us to become creative and supportive not only to others but to self while in tandem, give shape and form to the healing journey.
Pet parents need milestones to charter and mark their journey just like any other loss and possibly more so because the world, regardless of how far we think we have come, does not always recognize a pet loss as truly legitimate. Of course we know that is not true, so we push forward educating and acknowledging the unique loss that each pet parent and family goes through, in the hopes of a more universal understanding and compassion.
So if you are restricted to your home know there are many creative ways to work with the energy of grief so it can be kept circulating. Nature will wait for us, and when we finally get back out into it we can take our healing journey with us, almost as a beast itself that we have been nurturing, and we can release any residue back out to the earth where spirit can transmute it as the sacred expression of love that it truly is.
Healing is work, it will not get done without conscious effort but it doesn’t take much. It just takes a willing heart and as grief and sorrow have already had their way with it, most hearts are willing and ready to feel some relief, and to move into the present moment forever changed from the experience of loving and losing during this unique time. And maybe, just maybe, we might come to see that this was indeed the most perfect time after all.