Let’s explore a myth about animals and their transition that keep us stuck in grief over their death.
Some of these myths are or were widely-held scientific beliefs which are being replaced by new scientific knowledge. Some seem to be New Age beliefs that are human-centric and don’t allow animals to be individuals with their own purpose in incarnating and living on this planet.
I commend your desire to make sense of your animal’s life and death. I am glad you are willing to re-think the many beliefs we’ve held about animals in our lives.
Everyone has their own way of discovering the purpose of their life. In addition to religious and spiritual traditions, animal lovers like us have another dimension to explore if we choose.
You have already started to open this dimension through your relationship with your animals, especially at the end of their lives. It’s your heart/love connection.
You have a level of connection to your animals and Spirit that is both heartwarming and heart expanding. This heart connection opens you up to the goodness and richness of life.
Myths about animals: They are biological machines
Some models of animal behavior contend animals are just biological machines driven by instinct and genes. You feed them and they become conditioned to come to you for food. Survival and genetics drive their behavior.
Some scientific theories believed animals had no feelings. Animals didn’t even feel pain. I attribute this belief – and the belief that animals’ lives are trivial – to peoples’ continuing ability to experiment on them and treat farmed animals, for example, in ways we would never allow with our own family animals. Read Modern Day Descartes.
More recent scientific studies demonstrate many animals’ need for companionship, family ties and desire to raise their young. The lovely videos showing affection and friendship between different species, sometimes between predator and prey, shows that they are not biological machines.
Your animal has feelings about their aging body
This myth about animals can impact decisions about their transition. Especially as you exercise your have a right and responsibility to decide what medical interventions will be done for and on your animals. What is needed to keep them comfortable and enjoying some aspect of life.
Listen to your heart – and theirs
Medical professionals may give you valid advice from a medical professional to let them go because their body is declining and nothing can be done. The biological machine ain’t working well anymore That’s a great biological assessment.
But you still have the right to listen to your heart – not to just what you want, but what your animal desires.
What I’ve heard animals share
I’ve met cats like Samson whose veterinarian was ready to euthanize him during a visit. But his person sensed that Samson wanted to stick around a couple more months. So they held off. (I confirmed her decision after she brought Samson home.)
Some animals want to stick around, but their bodies were literally shutting down. We shared with this wonderful dog, “Emma, you’re going to get very uncomfortable soon. So we’re going to let you go before that happens because we love you.” She understood that because she trusted her person.
I’ve also heard animals say, “I’m done, I’m tired, no more medical interventions. Let me go, please.”
Others were okay with sticking around a bit longer so their human could get emotionally ready for the transition.
It’s a judgement call, but it’s yours to make. You are receiving information about your animal, just open up. It may come in a flash, a picture or a thought. I have worked with dreams for 30-plus years, so sometimes information comes to me as I wake up.
Listen to your animal. Because you know this soul better than anyone else.
(This snippet is from the second edition of my book, Peace in Passing: Comfort for Loving Humans During Animal Transitions, coming November 2021.)
Need help finding out how your animal’s feeling as they age?
Have you felt your animal’s emotions or thoughts as they age? How’d you handle it? Would love to hear from you!