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Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Cat or Dog

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Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Cat or Dog

“When one watches a loved one depart from the shore, another welcomes them on the opposite shore.” –Celeste Yarnall

The loss of a cat or dog can be an agonizing experience. To most animal lovers, our animal companions are every bit as important as members of our human family. People who have suffered the loss of their cats and dogs usually have other family members and/or pets who are also grieving the loss.

The question that most often arises is: Do we wait, or do we adopt a cat or kitten or dog or puppy to help fill this empty void? Certainly a kitten or puppy or an adult cat or dog can be there to help and comfort the grieving. But even more than that, when one is used to loving their pet, it’s very difficult to not have a recipient upon whom to lavish this flow of love because our love doesn’t die when our loved ones do. Adopting a kitten or puppy or adult cat or dog from an animal shelter may be the answer. With so many cats in shelters in desperate need of homes and people to love them, the ideal way to help the grieving process and to prevent their needless death is to bring home one of these babies. These adoptions are beneficial to both the adopter and adoptee.

Communicating With Your Sick or Aging Cat

The decisions that plague us at the end of our pets’ lives are heavy burdens to bear. For instance, is it too late to seek alternative healing therapies when the animal has been through so much? Should we choose euthanasia (a humane death by injection), or permit our animals to endure until the end? If you choose not to euthanize, you’ll want to provide hospice-type care to make sure your cat or dog remains as comfortable as possible.

Ultimately, you and your animal friend need to make these choices together. Now is the most important time for spiritual work: meditation, prayer, and nonverbal communication. You’ll receive guidance when your heart and mind are open. Do what you feel is best, but please make sure you are truly considering your cat’s best interests and not just your own needs or inability to let go. Animals have their own paths and their own spiritual journeys. When the end is near, the best thing you can do for them is to release them. Tell them out loud that it’s okay for them to pass on. This will help you accept it, and it will help them follow the path ahead. Flower essences can be extremely helpful to ease this transition. (See Flower Essences)

Some animal communicators and psychics feel that animals reincarnate in tandem with their human companions and with each other. The closer the interspecies bonding, the more likely and more frequent such reincarnation is to occur. Some even believe the species are interchangeable. Metaphysicians often recommend that you tell your animal companion you understand that they wish to leave this body, and that you will welcome them in their new one, so their spirit may continue its bond with you.

Planning Ahead

Consider making arrangements for your pets in your own will or with your loved ones in the event of your death. There have been many cases where pets have come to tragedy when their people died without leaving instructions for their care.

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Celeste Yarnall

Celeste Yarnall, PhD shares musings on myriad of topics at her Celestial Musings Blog. She is the author of The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care with Jean Hofve, DVM and Paleo Dog. Celeste is an actress/producer/activist/writer and keynote speaker. She and her husband Nazim Artist created the Art of Wellness Collection and are the producers of Femme: Women Healing the World. They live in Los Angeles, California with their beloved Tonkinese cats. Join Celeste at her website or on Facebook.


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5:26AM PDT on Aug 7, 2014

I never say goodbye...only until we meet again my friend. We will be reunited when my work here is done.

6:15AM PDT on Aug 6, 2014

Overall OK advice, but when my old cat passed, one of the things that hurt me and made me furious were comments like he would "come back" to me, i.e., reincarnated. Please don't torture a grieving pet owner with things there is no evidence for, or with false hopes that keep him from moving on. It's well-intentioned, but basically a rotten thing to say. You have no way of knowing this, or proving that such things happen, or have ever happened. Believing they do is self-delusion, denial and wishful thinking, IMO. In any case, it's a cruel thing to tell someone grieving for their pet.

3:03AM PDT on Jul 27, 2014

Thank you for this article

3:41AM PDT on Jul 23, 2014

They're always in our heart

5:33PM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

Since I do rescue of older dogs and ones with medical issues, I often have to face their lives ending earlier than I would want. I try to believe that there are friends waiting for them over the Rainbow Bridge, and that a heart broken can then expand to love more. It still hurts, but those thoughts help.

10:42AM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

Noted thanks

3:08AM PDT on Jul 22, 2014

We learn so much from our animals (wild or domestic) and are more open and trusting of them, of learning from them, than other humans or even our own selves sometimes.

7:53AM PDT on May 23, 2014

This is the only downside to sharing our love with beautiful creatures whose lives are more fragile than our own. My husband and I have experienced many devastating losses through the years, some made more difficult because of the inevitable second-guessing, regrets, remorse and guilt along with the ever-present heartbreaking grief, despair, anguish, agony and sorrow. I lost the love of my life, my beloved feline soulmate last summer and due to the circumstances surrounding his cancer treatment, his loss is one from which I will never come even close to healing. He was so brave, calm and elegant as he endured the ineffective treatments. We regret all we put him through, we would have regretted not trying, there is no solution when faced with desperation and no hope. Hopefully there is something wonderful beyond this life that our beloved animal family members share with us so that all of the pain and inequity experienced here is rectified for eternity.

8:52AM PDT on May 7, 2014

When it's kidney failure euthanasia is not a choice, but the only possibility. They suffer terribly. Four of my cats have already died of this, the last one two days ago, third in six months. I know we were together before and we shall be together again. I feel them all around me and i feel them happy - unlike me. At the moment it's just missing their physical presence. The other day the vet did the injection on the bed because even the slightest movement created her so much pain. It never gets easier, but more difficult with each death. In the coffin I always put flowers and I always add a bud to represent the new life on the other side. But while we are still on this side it's desperately lonely. The most beautiful words anyway to describe the transition are those at the end of The Lord of the Rings. They summarise everything.

12:44AM PDT on May 6, 2014

Oh Sue I sobbed and sobbed on reading the poem you posted.I have a much adored 18 year-old cat and I am dreading the day I have to decide to part with her.I`m just praying she will go quietly in her sleep when her time comes.

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