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As some of you know from my Instagram and Facebook posts the other day, our sweet little dog, Burton, passed away on Friday (you can see that post here if you want to read it). We had to make the incredibly hard decision to help him pass as gently as possible. This was by far the hardest thing we have ever had to do. But, as with every difficult situation in life, there were beautiful lessons gleaned from the experience.
This started out as a simple Instagram post, but quickly turned into something much larger. It ended up being far more than I could post on Instagram, so I wrote a full blog post about the experience we just went through. I wanted to write about this whole experience because it is important that we honor and celebrate the loved ones who leave us, regardless of whether they are human or animal. Every day that we have on this earth is a gift and whether your loved one is two-legged or four-legged, our time with them is short, sacred, and should be cherished.
Talking About Death and Dying
I feel that it is important to talk about death. It’s important to not sweep death under the rug or keep it locked up deep in our closets. In the U.S. death is still taboo. We don’t like to talk about it. We like to ignore it. We get uneasy when we are faced with it. This is a great article about Why We Need to Talk About Death and Dying.
I’ve stated several times in online discussions the importance of talking about death. I think we need death and dying education in our lives. Children need to be educated about death and dying in a non-scary way so that they are prepared to deal with it when it happens in their life. Death is going to affect all of us…and many are unprepared for it. When we are unprepared or don’t know how to handle or process it, that’s when damage happens. That’s when unhealthy, sometimes harmful, behaviors develop.
I strongly believe that learning to feel and work through difficult emotions and challenging life events in a healthy, supported way is one of the top things we can do to prepare our children for success in the world. Death is quite honestly the only thing that is 100% certain in our lives. As much as it hurts and is scary, we have to talk about it. Talking about it helps us understand it. It helps with the grieving process. It helps us come to terms with what happened. It helps us heal. It helps us remember the good times. It helps us move forward into the next chapter.
Even though I am writing this after the loss of a pet, everything I write applies to the loss of a human loved one as well. Grief is not specific to species. If you love someone or something and then you lose it, grief is going to ensue. I find it interesting how much I have learned from my sweet Burt’s passing. We often learn the most important lessons during times of grief.
I am no stranger to death recently, as my brother passed away suddenly in 2017 and that experience gave me a rapid crash course in all things life and death. While I had gone through deaths in the family before, it had never been a direct family member like that. You can read about that here if you like. I am praying that God spares us from any further loss for a little while. Two deaths in less than 18 months sure has taken a toll on my poor heart…
I must say that writing my tribute to our sweet Burtman on Instagram (as well as writing this post and creating the video below) has allowed me to feel a deep sense of healing. To be honest I have read my tribute to him from the other day (click here if you haven’t read it) about 100 times. I’ve scrolled through the photos over and over and over. Each time, I feel a little more at peace.
This post ended up being so much longer than I had expected, but as I wrote, the words just flowed from my heart and onto my keyboard. If you would like to continue reading about my experience and see the videos and photos I shared, please visit my other site here.