“What we have loved and enjoyed, we can never lose… all that we love deeply, becomes a part of us.”
– Helen Keller
My dog died today when I made the final decision to put her down. It was a tough decision for me… and at first, I had high hopes that she might recover from what I hoped was just a cold or infection. Although, after a few vet trips, blood test and the seriousness of her symptoms – it became imminently clear that Soma was in a lot of pain and wasn’t going to make it.
It was her time to go and my time to let her go!
Once I realized this it became a lot easier for me to make the call and take her to the emergency vet to put an end to her suffering. Even then, saying goodbye to my sweet, baby Soma was a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be.
She has been in my life for almost 14 years — ever since she was a 6 week old puppy. We’ve had a lot of fun times together and she has taught me many life lessons as I wrote about in this blog post a couple of years ago.
She was a really cool dog (wolf) and every time I took her some place people always commented about her or wanted to meet and pet her. She had a certain presence about her that people and even other dogs could sense. Soma walked with her own little prance and swagger. I’m really going to miss her a lot. 🙁
How to Cope with the Death of a Pet
Since my dog just died today, it’s only natural that I was overwhelmed by some emotion.
Especially right at the moment when she was pronounced dead by the vet. I had to carry her lifeless body back to the Jeep so we could take her home to be buried.
One minute she was still alive and with us and in the next… she was gone.
I know many of you reading this may have lost a pet recently or perhaps at some time in the distant past.
It can be a painful and traumatic experience when some one or some animal we love falls ill and succumbs to death. It may feel like a hole was ripped in the fabric of time itself or like a shooting pain suffocating your heart.
Simply stated… it hurts.
In American society, death is considered a loss and a time to grieve for the departed. Sadness often goes hand in hand with this event and the more the person or animal meant to us… then the more sadness we are expected to feel.
This often has to do with the fact that we loved them greatly, will miss them dearly and that our lives will never be the same without them.
Even though my culture and many others tend to see death as a time of mourning, I’ve personally come to believe that death should be a celebration!
Death should be a celebration of the departed’s life, the joy they brought to others, the difference they made in this world, the lessons or love that they shared with others while alive… and a celebration of their return back to the divine source from which we all arise.
And while I’m happy that her consciousness is freed from the constraints of this physical form… I still felt an immense sadness from her passing.
Ultimately, it’s how we interpret death and the meaning which we assign to it, that can either prolong the pain – OR – transmute our pain back into peace and joy. Of course, the time period for grieving is unique to each of us. So be patient with yourself and others.
Expressing and Transmuting Emotions When A Pet Dies
Okay, I’ll admit it… I was pretty sad when my dog died today. But how could you NOT be, just look at that cute lil face!
Yes, I even shed a few tears for the loss of my sweet Somz. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! Do you?
You may feel pain, sadness, confusion, disbelief, anger or any number of strong emotions when a pet dies…
As a human being, it’s perfectly natural and valid to have these feelings. It’s extremely important to acknowledge them.
Give yourself permission to feel what you are feeling without restriction. There’s no need to hide it or deny it or resist the expression of your emotions.
They are simply a part of the human experience and there’s really no shame to feeling them at all.
Just let them flow now so that you can let them go later.
Otherwise, these strong negative feelings and emotions cause the release or certain chemicals, stress hormones and other biological responses, which directly influence the health of your cells, organs and immune system.
Since our minds and emotions have a strong affect on our bodies, you want to express your emotions and handle them as they arise. In this way, you can release them quickly and prevent any long-term affects they may cause to your bodily systems.
Unexpressed and unresolved feelings can become repressed within ourselves and lead to physical and psychological pain and problems in the future. This is why it’s so important to deal with your feelings and acknowledge them when they first arise.
In our society, we are taught to be stoic and men especially are not supposed to show our feelings. We are told to “suck it up” and “be strong” or “be a man” and basically discouraged from expressing our true feelings.
From an evolutionary perspective, men needed to repress their emotions to do some of the horrible, yet necessary things we were faced with in the past; like brutal hand-to-hand combat and fighting to the death to protect their family and fellow tribesmen.
It was a hard and harsh life and men had to cut off their feelings in order to act and do what needed to be done. It’s hard to kill and live with yourself, unless you cut yourself off from all of these “girly” emotions. haha
Unfortunately, repressing your emotions in this way is terrible for your health and psychological well being. Modern men and women need to learn to face their feelings and develop their emotional intelligence.
And while I understand the need to be a strong man, show emotional control and keep from breaking down in public… I feel that it’s more than okay in our contemporary society to let a tear slip from your eye in the presence of others.
It’s your puppy and you can cry if you want to! The point is to let the feelings flow and then let them go so that you can move on quickly.
Once you’ve expressed your emotions and let them out, the goal becomes emotional transmutation. In other words, the transforming of negative feelings like sadness, anger and despair into a higher feelings of peace, joy and love.
For example, if you are thinking about your pet a few days from now and you suddenly feel sad again and the overwhelming surge of emotion rising up within you… stop, raise your arms in a V, look to the sky and smile.
Smile at the loving memories and all of the great times you shared with the deceased. Imagine that they are now at peace and in a better place. Free from harm. Free from pain. Free from suffering.
You may notice that it’s hard to feel sad or depressed when you shift into this posture and smile. This is because your physiology has a tremendous effect on your psychology and the way you feel.
With emotional transmutation, the purpose is not to deny your feelings, but rather to let go and come to a place of acceptance and surrender to what is.
The reality is that your pet has died. To resist this or deny it in anyway will only be a cause of further and prolonged suffering for you. In the end, death will come for us all…. so let us accept this fact now. Allow it to spur you to live your life more fully and completely from this day forward.
To paraphrase Eckhart Tolle; The secret of life is to “die before you die” and realize that there is no death.
Have a Dog Funeral and Create a Dog Memorial for Your Pet
One thing my mom suggested, before burying Soma, was to snip a lock of her hair as a keepsake to remember her by. I thought this was a good idea, so I actually made five locks of hair… kept one for myself and gave one to my mother, brother, father and ex-girlfriend (all people who loved Soma dearly and would miss her.)
We decided to bury Soma’s body in the woods at her Grandma’s house. She always loved going to visit my mother and father and their two German Shepherd dogs, Coco and Kady. We had a short little dog funeral, paid our respects to Soma and gave thanks for the joy she brought into our lives.
One thing I plan to do is to go through all of our photographs, select some of the best and create an online dog memorial celebrating her life. I will post it on here later.
You could do something similar in memory of your dog!
Sorry for your loss,
P.S. My mom also gave me a funny photograph of Soma and I, which brings a smile to my face every time I see it. You can check it out below. Also be sure to find a funny or favorite picture of you and your dog and use it as a visual tool for emotional transmutation. It really works!
Rest in Peace Baby Soma!