This article is based on my own experiences with caring for senior and dying pets. I take a spiritual perspective and share three things you can implement today, if you have a pet that is approaching the end of his or her life.
Feelings of fear and sadness are common or even inevitable when we have a senior or dying pet, and these feelings are often accompanied by an urge to “run away” or deny the fact that soon our beloved pet will no longer be with us.
One thing I have noticed is that if you approach the end of your pet’s life with fear and denial, it can prevent you from being truly present with your pet and making the most of the remaining time you have together. Being stuck in fearful emotions can also cause you to miss signs from your pet about what he or she needs.
What I have found most helpful is to look within and examine how we are approaching the situation.
- Surrender to the present moment — The number one practice is to become present with what is. Being in the Now may sound easy, but when you’re looking at a beloved pet whose health is failing, the pain can make this a challenging practice. In my experience, failing to be 100 percent present during key moments or periods towards the end of a loved one’s life will invariably lead to guilt and regret. Becoming present — reaching the place of surrendering — brings you to a state of peace that not only helps you cope, but also helps your pet. Our pets tend to be very sensitive to our state. Your state and how you approach them and their situation can affect them either positively or negatively.
- A mindset shift — I have found it helpful to remind myself that it is not really about me and what I want (or can cope with), but what is best for the animal. When we become present and reach a certain degree of peace, it will be easier for us to pick up on what signs and messages our animal friend is sending us, and accommodate them in what way is best for them, instead of looking for solutions that mainly ease our own discomfort.
- Connect with the spirit of the animal — One of the practices I find is essential to include when a pet gets old or is close to death is connecting with the spirit of the animal. I usually use Sacred Spirit Journeys (similar to shamanic journeys), but meditation or other methods can also be used. By connecting with the animal’s spirit, you can not only communicate with the animal, but also see beyond the failing body, and experience the light that they are. Holding the vision of their light — their true essence — brings peace, and even joy, during a time that is normally painful.
That spirit connection is extremely helpful for both human and pet when death approaches, and also after the pet has passed.
While there are many natural therapies and modalities available for your senior pet, I recommend adding the gift of your presence and peace; of listening to your pet’s needs, and holding the vision of your pet’s essence: the light that they are beyond their aging or failing body.
“Deal with the necessary practical things concerning my health, but don’t forget to return to the peace and connect with me from there. I am not just my failing body; I am a shining light, a soul companion, now and after I’m gone.” — Message from Jack , a senior dog (to his human companion)