I wish I could offer a way to alleviate the excruciating emotional pain. I can’t.
What I can do is offer some perspective to help navigate the grief, as well as a ritual to support the transition.
First, the perspective.
- Let the guilt go. As the caretaker of our beloved pets, when they die, we often can’t help but feel there was something we could have done to save them or to make their time on earth more comfortable. As real as these thoughts may seem in the haze of your grief, they aren’t actually true and it’s time to let them go. You did your best. You were your pet’s hero. It was just his or her time to go.
- Surrender to the process of grief. As I mentioned above, like with any loss, there is just no way around the grief. You have to go through it. And it takes time! So breathe deeply. Breathe into the pain, and let it be a portal into the immense, inspiring wellspring of love that you and your pet have shared.
- Know that your beloved pet is not actually gone. Even though you no longer get to be present with your loved one in the physical world, he or she is not actually gone. Everything is energy, so nothing actually dies, but just changes form. If you tune in, you can feel your beloved pet’s presence, even still. And if you tune in further, you can perceive him or her in a realm of happiness, wholeness, and radiant light.
And now the ritual.
- One or more framed pictures of your beloved pet (alone or with others)
- A candle
- Other offerings such as fresh or dried catnip for a cat, a bone or treat for a dog, favorite toys, etc.
- A sweetgrass braid (plus a lighter or matches and a dish to catch burning embers)
Create a small altar with the photo(s), candle, and offering(s). (Alternatively, you can add these to an existing altar.) Light the candle. In your mind’s eye, see the light from the candle expand to fill and surround the altar and to create a portal of light between this realm and the other side. Light the sweetgrass braid so that it’s smoking like incense and smudge the area around the altar. Extinguish by sealing in a jar or running under water. Return to the altar and visualize your beloved pet on the other side, in a realm of pure happiness and joy. See him or her playing or luxuriating in this realm while emanating vibrant health and wellness. Tap into the deep knowing that on some level, it was your pet’s choice to enter this realm at this time. As much as possible, feel happy for his or her transition into this realm of light, even as you shed your tears and experience your grief. You can also call on angels and/or other divine helpers of your choice to be with your pet and watch over him or her on the other side. Let the candle burn all the way down, extinguishing and lighting again as safety dictates. Place biodegradable offerings outside on the earth and donate toy(s) to an animal shelter.