When Their Animals Die
"Why, why, why does this hurt so much?!" She begged me to help her understand why the death of her daughter's dog, two years later, was so painful. Losing our precious child feels unbearable enough. But then, to lose those fragile threads that connect us to them- that can be incredibly painful. In the past three weeks, I've worked with six parents, all of whom lost a crucible gently holding deliquesced moments of their child. Four parents lost their child's pet, a being that symbolized a tender filament of love and a source of solace in the aftermath of grief. One lost her child's memory album, one that was excruciatingly created in the midst of grief's flames, in a fire. The other lost the ball cap he saved for his newborn son; a ball cap that was his own when he was a child. When we lose those tender links to them, it can feel like a re-fracturing of the original wound. It can feel as if, somehow, they have died all over again, we've lost yet another thread of our tangible connection to them. And this is an animal we love. The love between animals and humans can be incredibly powerful. So we learn, somehow, to regrieve, and remember, and rebreathe into life again, albeit slowly, with the loving and compassionate support of others. We remember that in our hearts, every piece of them is safe, untouchable, eternal, even if this is not the way it should be, not what we wanted, and not what any family deserves.