Just three days ago I had to put my best companion for 15 years to sleep - my cat Millie. I have not had to deal with grief for a very long time and it was a shock to me how deeply I have felt her loss. Previous losses of pets and family members occurred before I was spiritually aware, and I'm rather surprised by how the loss of my soul-kitty has affected me.Whether or not you belief in reincarnation, I do, very strongly, and Millie and I recognized each other on sight 15 years ago when I found her at a no-kill shelter. In the car, she immediately sprawled on my left shoulder, and over the years that was her favorite resting spot - I found out that this had been her favorite spot in other lives together as well. I could always tell what she was feeling, and she reacted to my emotions as well. Had I thought about it, I would have trained her as a therapy cat, as she was the friendliest I've ever had and greeted everyone who came to visit as a friend. She had a very maternal energy, very nurturing. Ours was a much more energetic/spiritual connection than I've ever experienced with an animal.
So, euthanizing her was a horribly difficult decision, yet at the same time it was not - I knew her body was failing rapidly. My first two days without Millie were intensely painful - the loss of her physical body in my life was the greatest pain. With another day of distance, I'm finding the emotion is changing. I still intensely feel the loss, the absence, the hole she leaves in the household, but I am also more aware of what holes in my spirit this fur-baby filled, and what I gave her. I am more aware of some of my gifts through this process: courage, compassion, tenderness, a willingness to let go, the ability to encourage independence, and more.
I am grateful for the many friends and acquaintances that offered their condolences, understanding that the power of animal companionship is no less than the power of human companionship. I am even grateful for the inevitable but annoying "she's in a better place" and "she's still with you" from well-meaning friends. As I continue the grieving process, I know that my emotions will ease, new fur-kids will come into my life, and I'll see Millie again some day in another form. I will always be grateful for what her spirit gave me, and that the lessons I learned from her I will share with others. And for all the others grieving the loss of a fur- or feather-companion, know that the lessons learned and energy shared will never die.