Processing Grief

It's never easy to lose someone...

     Even if you know the end is near, it's still not easy to deal with the actual loss and everything that it changes in your life.

     I know this feeling well because I've dealt with a lot of death in my 30+ years in this life. As unfortunate as it felt, I got accustomed to death from a young age -- 2 of my grandparents passed when I was 11-12 years old, and I've experienced the passing of someone every few years since.

     We all have our own way of grieving and finding our way forward, and it's something you just can't put a time limit or expectations on. Anyone that's grieving needs to know that only they know how best to process it. The most important part is making sure you don't get hung up in the stage of anger or denial for too long -- if that's a concern, then I highly suggest counselling to talk it through and move past it.

     The truth is that we can all find a legitimate reason to be angry. Whether it's the circumstances that led to death or wondering about the "what if's", we can easily manifest anger if we just look for reasons to be angry. But deep down, even as I took time with my own anger, I knew it wouldn't bring any peace to the soul that passed if I carried this anger. Torturing myself with these questions was only hurting me and holding me back from grieving.

     The grim reaper came knocking at my door in early July and I was reluctant to answer it at first. Extreme humidity had set in in our area and as I always need to do, I made adjustments to make my dog (Teddy) as comfortable as possible. With him being 14 years old and with a severe heart condition, I knew extreme temperatures aggravate him  - and I knew he was already on borrowed time. I've done all I could to extend his life through spiritual healing, but as someone that wouldn't change fate that's predetermined, I've always known I had only bought him more time.

     Unfortunately, it wasn't long before I was being awoken at night to him having coughing fits. It startled me and instantly had me channeling his end-of-life scenarios... but I fought to hold back the tears as I spent my time next to him; where I sometimes had to force him to stop digging in his bed or slow him down as he trotted from room to room. Intuitively, I knew this was the beginning of the end, but I pressed on with the little bit of hope that I could muster - sometimes retreating to the bathroom to let some tears out. I contacted his vet for a referral to a cardiologist.. and as I was waiting to hear back, he took a turn.

     There's something about facing this situation that sends one into a type of frenzy. I rushed him to his vet to be checked out, and just hours later - when his symptoms worsened even more - I'm off to the emergency clinic that has a cardiologist which is 75 minutes away. There was a part of me that wasn't going to accept this until I had a clear picture... and after a couple hours of cooking in the car waiting (because the pandemic situation meant I had to hand him over in the parking lot), we got the call..

     It was confirmed that his heart was now in the he-could-go-at-any-time end stage. The vets wanted to keep him to take measures that could bring him home for his final days, but one chilling part of the conversation settled in for the first time...

"Dogs only live 9 - 12 months after getting this diagnosis. When was he diagnosed?"

((This is a fact I've heard before, and Teddy was originally given 6 months to live))

Me: "He was diagnosed at the beginning of January 2019."

     Let's face it: neither of us really spoke any words to follow that up. I could tell the vet had questions about how he made it this far (especially considering his other health conditions; most of which accompanied his heart problem), but there was a silent & mutual understanding that since we're now 18 months post-diagnosis -- it's miraculous that he made it this long.

     And then we did the hardest thing we've ever had to do [when posed with the ultimate question]: we agreed not to resuscitate and asked that he not be allowed to suffer. We ended up going home to try to eat after being told they were hopeful about stabilizing him and adjusting his medications. Everything had as much of a positive glow as it could...

     Having no choice but to leave him there broke our hearts for so many reasons. But since they had him on oxygen and constant monitoring, we knew he was in the best place possible. Hours later, just after midnight, the vet gave us the update that he had been doing okay and we went through his discharge criteria for the morning. The vet then graciously offered us time on a video call with Teddy. Teddy looked comfortable inside his oxygenated crate, calmly listening to us tell him we're sorry we had to take/leave him there, that he's a good boy and that we love him.. and then watched him enjoy the scratches & rubs from the vet. After we hung up, we began to think we could actually try to get some sleep. 

Then the phone rang a few minutes later....

"He's going... I'm so sorry. He just started agonal breathing. We're getting the IV in and I need to euthanize him now."

     My heart dropped. What had changed so quickly?? Did our call upset or excite him too much? Through tears, I asked again to make sure he doesn't suffer anymore and to hold him for me. The reality I recognized is that it would've been cruel to try and bring him back with his heart in the condition that it's in.. and as much as I hated how quickly this was happening (thus taking decision making out of our hands, in a way), I had to accept that I needed to let him go. About a minute later, at 12:44 am on July 11th, they confirmed that Teddy passed peacefully in the vets arms.

     Almost immediately, both my husband and I knew that Teddy had said goodbye with that call.. and that seeing/hearing us was the assurance he needed that he could pass on. But it still ripped me apart. For days, sleeping wasn't easy and eating took a back-burner (everything tasted like sh*t to me). Because all signs pointed to it, I quickly accepted that it was his time to go but I still beat myself up for it. I wondered how I could've done better when it hit me - he came into my life to teach me so many lessons! He was a huge part of my spiritual journey, my number 1 Reiki client, and even now - he continues to help me develop myself.

     The comfort that follows is knowing that physical death is not the end. I called on Teddy a couple days after his passing and began communicating with him using a pendulum. A couple days after that, I asked my spiritual mentor to help me to meet with him (because I was highly emotional and began doubting some messages)... and I ended up guiding him over the Rainbow Bridge - where he's now in the care of an Ascended Master and able to visit us in spirit. Once I addressed the pain I felt and got his reassurance that I did all I could and that it was his time -- also hearing that he's at peace and doesn't want me to cry -- I miraculously stopped crying as much. A weight lifted off my shoulders knowing that he's okay and will always be a part of me, even if he's not physically here.

     I can appreciate that not everyone wants to visit a passed soul in spirit and seek further answers, but I can tell you that my willingness to do so was what helped me through the grieving process. During the moments where I miss him, I channel & speak to him instead of breaking down and becoming an emotional mess. The tears I shed now are happy tears, as I feel his presence with us in the house and communicate with him more clearly. Whereas I originally began to put his stuff out of view (fearing them as triggers), I quickly made sure everything is where he left it so that we're all reminded that he'll never be forgotten.

     Through mourning, I went from one extreme to the other in a matter of days. Talking to people about it helped tremendously - I now have a long list of texts and emails from friends, family & veterinary staff praising our care for him, highlighting his unique personality and mourning his passing as well. I admit that if I ever feel my mind slipping to doubt, I take these messages out and remind myself that our love shone bright; this makes me grateful that we had the time that we did, it assures me that I did do the best I could, and it comforts me to know that I was blessed to give a long life and opportunity to a dog that (otherwise) would've been put down a decade ago.

Teddy Tilson
Gone, but NEVER forgotten
May 26, 2006 - July 11, 2020

#empath #intuitiveempath #intuitivehealer #reiki #fortheloveofanimals #empathconfessions

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