Pet Grief: Pet Loss is Painful

girl with head down mourning

“When our pets die, it’s more of a lesson in our own living. What did they teach us while they were alive?”

~Bonnie Poirier

The last 20 years have been more than a blessing for me. My journey started off a bit later in life, at the age of 31, when I began the process of becoming a minister. For three years, I studied, prayed, strayed and pondered. Becoming a minister – a lady minister, in the Deep South – has it’s own set of challenges. At the age of 34, I was ordained within the Congregational Church in full glory with multiple sets of hands surrounding my head and shoulders and I became Reverend Bonnie. The time between discernment and ordination would set the tone for my ministry.

I started my ministry training working with the sick in hospitals and I have counseled those who are in crisis – especially in grief. For quite a few years, my ministry found me in hospital and waiting rooms and very often I would hear the concern of “Who is caring for my pets?” I would often hear myself saying, “I will.” I took on the task for caring for the pets of those who were injured, ill and/or dying. Too often, I found myself in the position of trying to find new homes because their people could no longer even care for themselves. I also found myself going into homes caring for the caretakers’ pets as well. Early on, someone jokingly called me a Pet Minister. One day that joke became a reality. Today, I have a pet ministry. Interesting how God works with us.

Right after ordination, I found myself working in grief by leading groups and seeing folks individually. They were grieving the loss of parents, spouses and children. Within those times, the loss of pets would come up and too often I would hear, “I thought I was doing just fine until the cat died and then I fell apart!” We can identify with humans and their dying. People come with blessings and faults and quirks. So do our pets. One thing is different and that’s their level of love. It’s unconditional – period. When our pets die, it’s more of a lesson in our own living. What did they teach us while they were alive? What legacy will we accept and carry on? Every animal that we bring into our lives is there for a purpose. We have to open our eyes and pay attention and once we realize that purpose, then we can truly carry on. Pet loss is painful – most lessons are. Accepting the lessons that our animals are teaching us is a great step to accepting the glory of the Almighty. Sit in nature. Pay attention to the animals and to your pets. Though them, you will learn. It’s just that simple. I’m often quoting Job 12:7-10 where we are told to ask and they will teach. Who are they? The birds of the air, the fish in the water and the animals who walk upon the earth. It’s true. All of nature and our animals are there to teach us – we are the students. It’s just that easy.

What did your pets teach you when they were alive? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Thank you for your time. God bless you all and Namaste’

Bonnie Poirier

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