The Shitty Part of Loving an Animal

IT’S A TOUGH DAY today. In just a few, short hours, my sister will be helping her beloved dog cross the Rainbow Bridge. After 15 years of love and companionship, Zack is ready to leave his body.

Zack came into Lisa’s life when she and her husband surprised their daughter with a puppy on her 10th birthday. As it usually goes when a child gets an animal, the responsibility for his care quickly fell onto the parent, and Zack and Lisa became the best of friends.lisazack

Twice a day, every day, almost without fail, she would take Zack on his favorite walk. On the coldest, snowiest New England day, she would bundle up and head outside. Pouring rain? Jacket on and umbrella in hand, off they’d go.

I’m sure sometimes it was a real pain in the ass to take him for that walk, but I also know it was a sacred time for both of them. A time to quietly connect without the hustle, bustle, and noise of home. A time for an energetic check in about each of their days.

And now, Lisa is called to do the hardest, most loving thing she can do for Zack, and that is to let him go. My heart is breaking for her and her family. I can remember the agony I felt when we had to let my dear, sweet Kramer go. Torn between wanting him to be pain-free and not wanting to play God, I struggled to find the strength.

A dear friend arranged a session for me with a brilliant and talented animal communicator, Danielle MacKinnon, and I learned exactly how Kramer wanted to pass. To honor his wishes, we sat on the back deck with his (and my) favorite blanket on my legs. Kramer was curled up in my lap as soft guitar music played in the background on the sunny, beautiful spring day.

I did my best to be present and strong for him as we said goodbye and I held him in my arms for a time after he was gone.

Tears are pouring down my face as I write this, remembering that day seven years ago as if it was yesterday. But today I cry for my sister. I wish so badly that I could make this easier for her, but I know this is her pain to walk through. After speaking with Danielle, Lisa, too, knows that Zack is ready and how he’d like his passing to happen, and she’s prepared to do her best to honor it. I know the moment will be exactly as it should.

I always tell my clients that feelings are to be felt and not fixed, but sometimes it would be great to just make them go away. But today, I guess the best I can do is just hold a loving space for Lisa and Zack and hope that they each find the peace that awaits them.

2 replies
  1. Tracy Labrie
    Tracy Labrie says:

    The only thing harder is grieving this loss yourself AND helping your child grieve it at the same time. We just lost my daughter’s bird, Stimpy. It was awful. I was strong for her for a bit and then realized she didn’t need me to be strong, she needed me to be miserable with her. It really is true, misery loves company. I stopped being super mom for her and started being a heart-broken pet lover with her. It was a great lesson for me and a great bonding experience for the two of us.

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Oh Tracy, how beautiful, although sad, and what a life lesson you taught your daughter (and she taught you). By being heartbroken with her, you let her know that whatever she’s feeling is ok to feel. Sometimes being strong for someone sends a message that it’s not ok to be sad and that they should be strong, too. You’re a pretty amazing mom! Sending love to you, your daughter, and sweet Stimpy.

      Reply

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