I think of her every day.
Sometimes with a laugh – remembering the way she would always bark at our 6 year old neighbor, Penelope, even after she’d known Penelope for years.
Sometimes with a tear – coming home from our Thanksgiving road trip last week, the house felt so empty without Iko there to greet us or to get tangled in our feet as she walked into the house with us, barging past us like she always did.
I realized this afternoon that in the months leading up to her death, I was taking steps to saying goodbye to her as if there would be one final goodbye and then it would be over. But today I am still saying goodbye.
Will I ever finish saying goodbye to her?
Over the past few weeks, Spirit has blessed me with many pet mediumship readings for humans grieving the loss of their beloved animal friends. I always appreciate these opportunities because the messages shared by the souls of those departed pets are always uplifting and inspiring . . . and usually funny, too.
During a mediumship reading last week, I found myself really relating to the person I was reading for. I commented to her that even though our dogs died within a couple days of each other, I felt I had an advantage because I knew that Iko had a peaceful, easy transition. My client wasn’t with her dog when he passed, so she wasn’t sure how his transition was.
I think it is the not knowing that is the hardest thing for us humans. The “what if’s” and “if only’s” can tie us up in knots. That’s why mediumship readings are so healing – we can get answers straight from the horse’s (or dog’s or cat’s) mouth.
So, what makes it okay to say goodbye to a loved one who is dying or has died? When my mom was dying of cancer, my siblings and I resisted accepting her death but the morning she died, she told us “today is the day” and she said goodbye to each of us. I think we said goodbye because we had no choice. She was going and if we didn’t say goodbye that day, we’d never get the chance. That day, it became okay for us to say goodbye to her, even though we still didn’t want to.
What makes it okay to say goodbye?
I keep asking myself that question. And maybe there is no answer and I’ll just keep asking myself that question.
Although Iko’s transition was hard for me (that’s a euphemism! gut-wrenching, paralyzing, and life-altering might be more accurate), it was still easier for me to deal with because it happened now when I have experience as a pet medium than it would have been for me two years or even one year ago.
So, what I want to share today are some of the things I’ve learned as a pet medium that I hope help you when it’s time for you to say goodbye to one of your beloved animal friends. These are the principals that ease my pain as I move through my grieving process.
The soul chooses its time to go. Many people come to me for pet medium readings because they are in pain about of the timing of their pet’s death. It was too soon, or they weren’t there with their pet or something else was wrong about the time or the way the pet transitioned. Time and again, the cats and dogs I connect with tell me the exact reasons why they chose that specific time to go. Their souls know what they are up to and often they die when we are not with them because it makes it easier for us or easier for them or both. I think it was easier for me to say goodbye to Iko because I knew from my readings that her soul was in charge of the timing.
Spirit knows best. Two of my clients last week asked why their dogs had died when they did. One had died in order to move into a role as my client’s spirit guide, the other said he died in order to help her with her current spiritual growth and this was by far the best way for him to be with her, the way he could love and help her the most. Spirit has our back, even if we don’t see that right now.
Grief is physical. One of my clients asked her departed cat if he missed her and he said, “No, missing is physical; it’s part of having a physical body. There is no missing here, there is only love.” Wow. ‘Nuff said! (Actually, I want to add that it is important for us as humans in our physical bodies to honor our grieving processes and feel our feelings and allow them to move through us physically. We are here to integrate the spiritual and the physical and grieving is a time of intense integration and physical and spiritual healing.)
Suffering is optional. There is a Buddhist saying that in life pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. When a loved one dies, whether that loved one was a person or a dog or a cat or a fish, we feel the pain of losing them and their presence in our lives. Suffering, however, is the pain of resisting what is, the pain of not accepting reality. Suffering is beating ourselves up for something we coulda, woulda or shoulda done. Consider the possibility that things are happening or happened in the perfect way for you and your pet and there was nothing you could have or should have done differently.
The soul lives on after death. As my mom died seventeen years ago, I felt her soul moving out of her body and re-forming in the space above us. This was my first direct experience of the eternal nature of our souls. We are spiritual beings having human experiences. Animals are also spiritual beings having fish and dog and horse and whale experiences. The soul of my sweet Iko girl is still whole and complete and intact. She is still her.
I’m learning that saying goodbye to Iko is a daily process for me. Even though she isn’t in my life physically anymore, I take comfort in knowing that she is not “gone.” She has just changed forms. She promised me and my family that she will come back and be with us in a new dog body again soon.
And I am holding her to that promise.
I'd love to hear from you. Who are you still saying goodbye to? What makes saying goodbye easier for you? Please let me know in the comments below. Thanks!