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Sadness Behind A Smile

By Elizabeth Allen
Caregiver Support with Paws Into Grace

The day promised much – at least that’s how it felt to me, as I got ready for the Morris Animal Foundation Walk. I was thrilled (although I don’t know if that word works well) to be part of the Paws Into Grace Home Hospice Team, and the prospect of sharing our mission with companion animal lovers, thrilled me no end. In actuality, it’s just another part of my life’s purpose, another piece of the wonderful puzzle of life that slotted right into place after my meeting Dr. Elizabeth Benson. To know, without words, that we were both on this earth doing sacred work, was a blessed event for me.

Working a booth is an art to be honest and when the subject matter is one of tenderness, compassion and deep emotions, much of what happens, if not all of it, remains up to the invisible power of the divine that connects us all. People, wonderful people who had lost animals due to cancer came out dressed in their finest colors and with pictures of their deceased stapled to their garments, flapping as they walked, almost whispering their pet’s name and legacy. Companion animals sniffing out the field, bent down, accepting treats of all descriptions, filled the air with sounds of hope and barks of joy. There was no breed that was not represented. No breed that was not loved beyond words. No animal that a human would not have died for. Now that’s the truth.

As we chatted of all things animal related, it was plain to see, the passing of a beloved creature leaves people torn. Gutted. Repairing. This day was medicinal with its renewing properties. We could all feel it as people stopped by, taking cards they hoped they would never have to use, brochures they didn’t really want to read but knew it was best to take them because there are some things about life you cannot fight or deny, and that is that it will end – for us all, someday and that includes our beloved pets also – as for the most part, we will outlive them.

Having a plan, having a card, engaging in a conversation, building a relationship with those who understand the kind of love we dish out without a second thought to our pets, is a wise and courageous thing. The wisdom of knowing that the end of life for our pets can be as special as the rest, as sacred as the beginning, as bright as the night star – is a wisdom that we came to share and to also accept.

The clouds moved overhead, and I grateful for their benevolence watched the four legged and the two legged melt into the rest of their day. Packing things back into boxes, thoughts into place, emotions into categories and hope and love into all the right places, readying myself for the next time I was blessed to be part of such infinite acceptance of the beauty of life and the passing into the next, with grace, for all God’s creatures. And I paused, watching a three-legged Golden Retriever soak in the essence of not only survival, but of living and loving without a notion of the feeling of less. And I prayed for an ounce of such wisdom and acceptance.

Paws Into Grace

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