Please don’t hide death or your tears from your two legged or four legged children. Both heal faster than mature adults do. The passage of “time” in the mind of a child or a pet makes little sense at all. Time is just an illusion. Most children and pets are living in the moment and they heal very quickly because of it.
Believe it or not, in the scheme of things, this is actually a positive lifetime learning experience for your children. Adults who have not experienced death directly when they were younger can be quite disabled when it happens when they are older. Remember how I said that grief is a good teacher? It will not be long and you will see that you will all be better and the family stronger for having known and loved me. Already the kids are developing the tools and intuition that they need to start building their ability to handle grief and loss in the future. It is an important tool to have in a world that brings the guarantee of loss the longer one lives.
When human beings are born, they enter the world like all of us do, whether we have four legs or two. For a while after we are born we still remember where we come from and where it's all leading. Much like animals, babies cannot speak of it because they don't yet have the language skills to do so. They have other means of communication, as you all too well know. Many of them will cry and cry and cry because they remember the world they have come from and it is so much sweeter and softer than this new one they have been born into. Through the early years they are actually going through a period of grief; the five stages. They have let go of the world they lived in to come into this one. The terrible twos, by the way, are just the final letting go as they realize that they will be staying here on earth for a while and That's That!
|We All Need Each Other|
“My other pet is grieving too…”
Yes your remaining pet may grieve for a short while but remember, our lives spin seven times faster than yours and we heal seven times faster too. You might get upset when you see them exhibit certain behaviors or feelings but chances are they are reflecting your grief. Like those of us within your dreams, we are showing you YOU. If you think they look sad, they are showing you that YOU are sad. Pets are empaths. They feel your feelings. If they seem angry or restless, take a look at yourself and see if it reflects how you are feeling at the time. If you are still trying to release the memory of my frightened and pained face before the time of my passing, it is likely I was reflecting you. You were frightened, you were anxious and since we are connected at the heart, we know how you feel and we show you.
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We learn as we grow, learning the rules and standards of behavior from our friend and master and perhaps a trainer. Children, as they grow, learn by copying their parents and other role models in their lives. Life can be a hall of mirrors, reflections everywhere you turn. When your heart is pained because you see your young child crying and you think your child is grieving, please keep this in mind: Often the underlying reason for the tears is that your child sees you crying and he is learning that this is the appropriate response to losing someone you love. Depending on his age, it is more likely that he is copying or mimicking you than actually feeling the pain that causes tears. He is learning the ropes of living life from you. He is witnessing by your actions how to cope with grief. The only way he knows how to live is to copy how you live.
Grieving aside, consider this in all that you do. The children are watching you all the time so that when they grow up to live their own lives they will know how to do it and teach their own children how to do it because they had you as their teacher. You need each other now. Stay open and honest. Be loving. they will help you process and help you heal if you just keep your heart open. Pets and kids can see things that most adult human beings cannot. Don’t laugh at them if they say they see me there. Their eyesight is still pure and their natural intuition is often still intact. They still live closer to the edge of Tween Time than you do. Their minds have not yet created interference and the signals are clear. This time of grief is an opportunity to see how they rise to the occasion. Their innate wisdom might surprise you. It’s yet another gift of discernment. Don’t be surprised if when you’re trying to come up with the right words to say to comfort them, they find the right words to comfort you instead. Some children have said very profound insightful things to their adults during grief. Let them teach you what you need to remember.
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Pay attention, for children often will act things out during their playtime. There is a type of counseling called Creative Play Therapy. It allows children the space and time to work things out during playtime. They do not need a therapist present to do play therapy. They simply need the time and space to be allowed to play freely without being judged. Many adults who now struggle emotionally simply did not have the opportunity or permission to play their way through their childhood challenges and issues. Alone or with each other, healing comes naturally because they remember how to heal. They are still in tune with their heart and soul and they know their pain and confusion needs to be expressed. Play is how they sort it out. They can paint or write or dance; they can use any form of creative expression or social games. Because most aren’t yet well versed in speaking their feelings, young kids must play them out symbolically. Some children can say some pretty profound things when they are serving their teddy bear tea at the tea table or their soldiers are waiting for their next command in the sandbox. They know inherently that strong feelings need to be expressed at the time they are feeling them. They still speak and understand the language of the heart.
When you were pregnant did anyone tell you that you could speak to your child in the womb? That they would feel your feelings? That they could feel your love for them, or lack thereof? The only difference now is that they are no longer connected to you by an umbilical cord, but still connected nonetheless through the mutual power of the love in your hearts.
Always talk to your pet or your child, Heart to Heart, even if you think they are too young to understand. The power of your words will reach them at the deepest level. Create a calm, nurturing, comfortable space. Bring all the love you can summon into your voice, your eyes, and your loving arms. Cry with them. Talk to them like you would talk to a very dear friend. Tell them you are learning about healing too, that you miss me very much and you know that they do too. Bring up happy memories of me. Reassure them that things will get better. Tell them everything and then allow them the quiet space for them to “talk” to you. It may sound crazy but it is healing at the basic power level of the heart that understands everything no matter how many legs and no matter what age or ability.
Your child and your remaining pet are there for good reason. You need them and they need you too. You are beginning to create an important line of communication for yourselves and your family. Your child is learning things from this experience that will create a maturity, acceptance and level of grace that will carry on throughout life. Loss ultimately makes you strong and when you lose someone you love when you are young, strength becomes part of your character.
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Don't force anything. Take your time. Tell them it’s okay to cry, to be angry, to feel confused, to feel sad and that it’s okay to feel okay again, because they will. Talk to them about me. Read great books and watch uplifting and educational movies together so that they learn about death and rebirth. Tell them about Rainbow Bridge and how we'll all meet again one day. Don’t be afraid to cry for it teaches them that all tears serve a purpose. Reassure them that I am waiting patiently for all of you, Only Gone from your Sight. Explain to them that they might even see me, hear me, or feel me now and then. Tell them how much you need each other now; that you will all heal as a family and that someday soon you will feel the love and not the pain…and then, if it’s appropriate, I will lead you all to another special friend. Comfort them, love them and teach them faith through the process. Reassure them they are not alone.
Listen to the words you say. The very words you say to them are the very words you need to hear. Humans tend to give each other what they themselves need. So tell them these important things and then tell them to your very own heart.
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Excerpted from the best-selling book, "Only Gone From Your Sight: Jack McAfghan's Little Guide to Pet Loss and Grief" Available at Amazon in Paperback or on Kindle or through your favorite bookseller.
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