Recently my dog passed away. This is the third pet I have had that has died. This whole thing seemed to happen so fast and unexpectedly. Although, I don’t know if anything can really prepare you to say good-bye to your loved one being gone physically. I realized that this was the perfect time for me to practice all of the things I have been learning. I now try to look at every situation as a growth opportunity. This was a big one! Here are some of the things I learned from this situation:
1. I am in control of my thoughts. This is a hard one. Many people are so used to letting their thoughts control them that they rarely take the time to notice them and confront them. In situations like death people have a tendency to have expectations about the way they should act. They have to feel sad to show their love. They have to think about the person/animal constantly so they don’t forget them. They need to keep things that will remind them of the person/animal. None of these are true or necessary. And depending on how far you take them, these thoughts can cause severe depression and suffering. You will never forget your loved one. Let the thoughts come and go, but don’t let things replay over and over in your head. You can have loving, happy thoughts too. Don’t be attached to the pain or think it is necessary to show your love.
2. Pets are great teachers. I have known this to be true for a while now. We can learn so much from our pets if we are conscious of it. Death is one of those things pets help us deal with. Since they do not live as long as we do, it is inevitable that we will have to deal with them passing away. This can be a great learning experience if we let it. After my second pet passed away I said I would not be getting any more pets. I had such a difficult time with the first two dying. After much thought and persuasion from my family, we ended up getting two more pets. My conclusion was that I cannot view the entire life of my pets based on dealing with this one part of their life. My pets bring me so much joy for so many years that just focusing on the last weeks/months with them was not fair to anyone. Nor did it make sense to trivialize their life down to a few moments in time. I needed to focus and enjoy the every day moments while they were here.
3. Death is a great lesson in faith. The more we experience it, the more we have to believe in a higher power that is in control. Everything happens the way it should even if we don’t understand it. This is a great way to practice our faith. If we truly have faith, then we don’t have any regrets or fear around death. We have faith that it is what it is for whatever reason. That is true faith; not having the answers, but still believing in the orderliness of the universe. Dealing with multiple death experiences will really show you where you are in your faith.
Death is certain for everyone. So the more effective we are in dealing with it, the less suffering we will cause in our lives. After all, we are still on this earth and we still have a life to live, so we need to make the best of it and enjoy it to the fullest until it is our time to go.