As people grieve for their lost best friends, it is easy to immediately remember the pain, agony, and physical fatigue involved in experiencing pet loss. We will always remember and cherish our loved one’s beautiful compassionate gaze, blissful kisses, and heartfelt embrace our whole lives. Yet, it’s difficult to forget those last minutes of saying goodbye, along with the deep hole our pet’s loss leaves in our hearts. While we understand that those memories remain etched on our hearts, we still work to learn how to stitch and mend our hearts back together and reflect on our growth through grief.
No matter how long we have known our animal companion, an everlasting bond forms – one that teaches us to love, empathize, and embrace gratitude, and still deepens over time, even after our pets pass away. However, there are also life-changing lessons we face too. But, what kind of lessons are we still able to learn after the death of our loved ones?
These lessons, or “gifts of grief” that people face are not easy, but ones of resilience, compassion, and appreciation for quality time. While there is no universal timeline, we know grief can be both a fast and slow process; people can quickly experience both immediate physical and emotional pain, but also develop a deep reflection and increased empathy over years of time. Grief contains the painful ability to teach us to love fully, have more ease of providing comfort to others during loss, carry deep gratitude for our loved animal companions, and to cherish every moment with others. Through grief and loss, people understand the reality that time is short and how we must focus on what is most valuable: quality of time with both animals and people over just quantity and presence. Loss teaches people to take notice and focus on what is more important to their hearts and sometimes even changes in their current lifestyle. Grief and loss may take our broken hearts and pain and transform them into a new pattern of beauty, resilience, courage, and strength unlike any we have known before.
It is true that these “gifts of grief” are lessons no one wants to encounter firsthand or embrace with open arms; in all truth, we all want to avoid these moments. Why must it take such affliction and suffering for one to better understand compassion, gratitude, and empathy through new open eyes and exposed hearts? These are questions that no one can properly understand or acknowledge, except to say that brokenness sometimes creates a beauty beyond words and while our hearts make take time to heal, they are also patched together in new intricate patterns. Encompassing these lessons or “gifts of grief” helps us remember that we’re not alone and does not diminish the loss in the very slightest.
In fact, experiencing grief and loss may open a door toward one helping others face grief, learning to heal on a daily basis, and embracing their everlasting bond with their loved one on a deeper level. Therefore, these are the “gifts of grief” that we can carry in our hearts and still remain thankful to our animal companions for helping us grow through our grief.