There are times in our life when the unspeakable happens. No reason seems clear and we are left alone in our thoughts, drifting off into silence. Our relationships alter and our energy seems to ebb. Our appetites diminish and the things we once loved doing— seem pointless.
When this happens we don’t really seem to see or feel the pain of others, especially our animal friends. They however, are well aware of the change, and in fact it affects them deeply.
Using your imagination, try to see it from the animal’s perspective. Although you may feel they cannot possibly be hurting as much as humans, they are.
The Case of the Family in Mourning
I once worked with a woman who had lost her spouse. It all happened rather quickly and she was left utterly devastated and deeply depressed. She had two dogs, a cat and a horse who had all shared this event. They were very close to her husband and spent many years together as a family. The woman could barely take care of herself let alone all of the animals. The moment I entered the home I could feel the weight of the sorrow. The dogs who are extremely friendly and had always greeted me with enthusiasm, stood with their heads hanging. I could feel their pain and quietly walked to the middle of the room and laid down on the floor. I said nothing; I just laid on my back in the middle of the room. They both came to me and I spoke to them about the loss of their loved one, validating their sorrow. The larger of the two, lay beside me and began licking me—my hands, my shoulder and then my cheek. The smaller dog did something quite remarkable and I think it was her way of thanking me. She began nudging me with her nose, pushing against me— starting at my head; circling around my feet and back up to my head before lying with her head on my lap. They both wanted “touch.”
I then walked out to the barn with the two dogs trailing beside me. The horse, who usually greeted me with joy, stood in the corner with her head down and I thought my heart would burst. I spoke to her about her loving guardian and told her I understood her sadness. She walked to me and lowered her head and I pressed my forehead to hers. We stood there in silence and I sent her love. I reached into my pocket and produced her favorite treat. As she stood there munching her apple the dogs began to wag their tails reminding me there was a box of biscuits close by.
The cat who normally wants nothing to do with me; and always scampered away, sat perfectly still as I approached her. I stood a few feet away and spoke to her about the change in the home. I told her much she was loved by her family. She then allowed me to pet her and as I turned to go, she followed me. And so off we went, two dogs and a cat taking a walk down a country road, the same road their loved one had shared with them many times. And as we strolled I looked up to view a lone hawk circling overhead. Everything seemed peaceful and I felt blessed knowing the animals were slowly healing.
I met with this family for several days and before long their appetites returned, tails wagged, scampering reappeared and grazing in tall grass with tail swishing resumed.
There is no magic solution that cures grief, but this is something you may wish to try if you are with an animal that is in mourning. Just go to their level, speak to them and send them love acknowledging their pain. This also applies to any animal that has lost their mate or an animal friend.
Humans send out sympathy cards, think of this as a way to let them know you realize they are hurting. Just by making this simple connection with affection may help the animal to recover more quickly.