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For Those Who Are Grieving


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I originally posted this in August, but so many of us have experienced loss in recent weeks, I thought it may help to repost it. I know that I found comfort in this article.


Kinsey had dropped dead in the backyard. As I sat and read the words in the email from my client, I couldn’t believe it. I saw the message entitled Kinsey, and thought perhaps she had experienced another seizure. I should have noticed the time - just after midnight - a clue that something was wrong.


As I stared at the screen, my usually calm demeanor felt a shock wave go through it. Kinsey had a pacemaker. She wasn’t supposed to collapse and die. It seemed like an eternity before I could get up and call her guardian. After a morning of sadness, talking with her cardiology group, and shifting from a veterinary to a spiritual perspective, I knew that as in every beloved pet’s death, it was time.


Many people don’t understand the emotion surrounding a pet’s death. Our friends mean well when they tell us to go out and get another dog or cat. But we know it’s not that simple. We have to grieve the part of us that’s gone. Many clients have told me that they grieved more over the loss of their pet then over a human relative’s death. They talk about the guilt they feel from these emotions. From a spiritual perspective, those humans were loved, but they weren’t part of them. They weren’t on this earth to walk life’s journey with them. Their animals were.


All our pets teach us something as they travel through life with us. Sometimes the journey is difficult; sometimes it’s nothing but joy. In either case, their passing can create a grief that takes us to our knees.


Many veterinary schools have grief counselors and pet loss support groups. These caring professionals and volunteers have an understanding of the human-animal bond, and can guide us through the grief process. If your loss is overwhelming, or you would like to talk about your beloved pet, reach out to someone who has experience with human-animal relationships.


And don’t hesitate to reach out to your pet. Sound strange? Science tells us that matter is neither created nor destroyed; it only changes form. All of life is energy, and your pet hasn’t gone anywhere. His physical presence has shifted to a different vibration. Your spiritual paths together are still intact, but you can’t experience this new part of the journey together unless you know it exists.


You may want to try this simple exercise. Think of your beloved pet, and open your heart. Feel the joy of her life, or the grief caused by her loss. While experiencing this feeling, ask for greater understanding. It may take time, but if you continue this process, the wisdom of the situation will come through.


A word of warning is in order. Pure grief is a positive energy state created by the loss of something precious to us. It is not: why did this happen to me or what did everyone, including myself, do wrong? It is not blame. Those thoughts are coming from a negative place. Having said that, you may want to ask for clarity surrounding them. They can illuminate other areas of your life that are being influenced by these beliefs.


Negative thoughts don’t connect us to the help that’s available. On the contrary, they block it from finding us, and create more drama in our lives. So, bringing awareness to these negative emotions is one more way your pet can help you create a more joyful life — even in his absence.


Today is dedicated to Kinsey, whose joyful tail wags and slobbery kisses taught us all about staying positive in the midst of life’s challenges. I thank you for being you, and for all you have taught us.




Dr. Susan Wagner is a board certified veterinary neurologist whose pioneering work acknowledges the bioenergetic interaction between people and animals. She is an advocate for change in the area of interpersonal violence and animal cruelty, and works toward a greater understanding surrounding the health implications of the human-animal bond.


Residing in Worthington OH, she is an active public speaker in the areas of energy theory and healing, spirituality, and the human-animal bond. She especially enjoys teaching about the spiritual nature of animals. Dr. Wagner is published in several peer-reviewed journals. She is also co-author of Through A Dog’s Ear: Using Sound to Improve the Health and behavior of Your Canine Companion, and was research director for the Through A Dog’s Ear CD series. Dr. Wagner is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University Veterinary College, and a Level IV Healing Touch for Animals practitioner.

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