“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength; loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
- Lao Tzu
I love dogs.
I’ve always had a dog in my life, and I always will. I love the company of a pet – their unconditional love and presence in my life far outweighs the responsibilities of pet ownership. There are few disadvantages to being a dog owner; in fact I only know of one. The only real downside is dealing with the grief when they pass away.
My greyhound died last February, and I’m still feeling sad. Yesterday I drove 3 hours into the middle of nowhere to adopt a new dog, only to discover that I still have plenty of unprocessed grief about the loss of my greyhound. As I was looking over some paperwork from the rescue group, I was overcome by a yearning just to have my old dog back. The experience made me realize that I still have some healing to do in before I bring home a new dog.
Why Losing a Pet is Difficult
Coping with the loss of a pet can be more difficult than coping with the loss of a friend or family member. People who have never owned an animal may not understand this, but it’s easy to understand why. The reason we are sometimes more attached to the animals in our lives than we are with people is because our relationship with pets never has any of the emotional “baggage” that accompanies most human relationships. Your pet never holds a grudge against you. They never project any guilt, resentment, anger or regret onto you. They never ask or expect to be compensated in return for the love they offer to you on a daily basis. Pets are a perfect example of the true nature of unconditional Love. When compared to the nature of people, they shine a light on all the dysfunction that is inherent in most human relationships.
The primary reason that losing a pet feels devastating is because we feel suddenly disconnected from this source of unconditional Love. In many cases, pets are the only source of true Love that humans will ever experience in their entire lifetime. No wonder coping with the loss of a pet is such a difficult experience to process.
Instruments of Unconditional Love
If we could see our lives from a higher perspective, we would see that our pets serve as channels of the unconditional Love that constantly surrounds us. Love is the highest vibration in the Universe, the core ingredient that binds matter together. Love surrounds and pervades every atom of our being, but we cannot feel it when we are constantly bombarded with the lower grade frequencies in our lives such as fear, doubt, greed, and anger. Human nature draws our attention away from unconditional Love onto negative qualities such as fear in order to perpetuate the drama of the human ego. Our pets serve as wonderful gifts that remind us of not only the true nature of the Universe, but also the true nature of ourselves. In other words, not only are we surrounded by love, but also it is the thread that makes up the fabric of our existence.
A Trigger of Emotional Pain
Unfortunately, the knowledge that you are always surrounded by Love will not free you from the grief that you feel from the absence of your pet. You will still feel a tremendous sense of loss and sadness that needs to be processed. This is because any loss in our lives is a powerful force that triggers emotional pain.
Emotional pain is a real, energetic substance that lives in and periodically surfaces from the human body. To maintain a healthy emotional life, this pain needs to be acknowledged and released. The only way to successfully release it is to allow yourself to feel your pain fully, without adding negative thought, criticism, or judgment. If you are not able to allow yourself to fully feel a negative emotion, it will become trapped in your physical body and will lead to destructive behavior as well as illness. Painful emotions will continue to surface and feed off of negative thought patterns unless their host becomes conscious enough to witness them fully.
When your pet or any loved one dies, pain will surface. You are free to choose to perpetuate it with negative thought, and you will unknowingly choose this option if you are unconscious of this whole process. If however you choose to feel your grief with a silent mind, you will free the pain from your body and from your experience. At this point in history, part of our role as conscious participators in human evolution is to transmute the emotional pain that has become lodged in the body of humanity. We do this by dissolving our share of the pain, which is the pain that surfaces in our individual experience.
As you consciously transmute your emotional pain you will begin to recover from your grief. You may never completely process the loss of your pet, but there will come a time when you’ll be able to remember them with love instead of continually noticing their absence.
The Courage to Love
The great Lao Tzu once said, “loving someone deeply gives you courage”. This is especially apparent to me after the experience of losing a dog. Pet owners are probably some of the most courageous people on the planet. The question is, after losing a loved one, is it possible to find the courage to love again?
I think it’s so important to find the courage to love again, because we need pets in our lives. We need a daily reminder of how to love, how to live in the present moment, how to play and have fun, and how to live fully. That’s what my greyhound Clandro taught me, and that’s what I’m here to pass on you.