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Lessons from Over the Rainbow Bridge



I’ve had many teachers in my life and I owe them all so much GRATITUDE. But among them all, it was a tiny little furball with a firey attitude and a deep capacity for love who imparted a wisdom my decades of life and extensive training in therapy hadn't—embracing the art of release.


 

Last month I faced a heart-wrenching farewell to one of my best friends, my cat Rachel. Rachel was more than a friend; she was also a teacher, a nurturer and an ally. I have to give more context here for the depth of the connection to make sense.


Animals have been a part of my life since I was a very young child. But I've never experienced the depth of connection with an animal that I did with Rachel. I believe that this is in part because when we brought her home, we also brought home her littermate and brother. The two of them were absolutely inseparable for the first four years of their lives.


Sadly, he died suddenly from a genetic heart condition when he was far too young. We were heart broken, but Rachel was crushed. She mourned deeply for about three months, appearing to be depressed. And then she adopted me as her substitute litter mate and things changed.


Rachel loved to sleep on my head and "groom" my hair. She also would insist that I put my phone down at night when I had insomnia. Instead of endlessly scrolling, I would pet her and soon her purring would lull me back to sleep.


She was also a frequent companion as I worked at the computer, giving me little breaks and reminding me of the most important thing in life: LOVE!



Rachel got sick in 2022 with a tumor that was putting pressure on her heart. She had surgery, and true to form she sailed through an extremely difficult procedure with her very characteristic determination! Then sadly at the end of last year we learned that the tumor had grown back and surgery was not an option.


I choose to believe that her love was too great to be held by her little heart alone.


Even as she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge she had one last lesson for me. The concept of loss, particularly the loss of loved ones, has always filled me with dread and sometimes even terror. In my practice, I advocate for confronting rather than running from discomfort, and last month I had to walk the talk and face my greatest fear - the passing of a loved one.


I was resolved to be fully present for Rachel’s final moments, pouring love into her with all of my heart so that she could experience a beautiful, peaceful passing. I won’t lie, it was excruciating for me. But I could be there for her because my love was greater than the sadness or fear. Rachel died in my arms, showing me that death can be met with grace and love and teaching me one last, invaluable lesson.

 

Grief is the price we pay for loving deeply.

And it is cheap at twice the price.

 

Whenever you find yourself facing a situation that seems too daunting, too frightening, too painful or too overwhelming, I urge you to draw upon this lesson. Rather than avoiding the discomfort, lean in and embrace it, and stay attentive to the wisdom it may offer. The rewards, I assure you, are profound.

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Thank you for this💗

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It was from the heart to be sure. The pain of pet loss is not talked about often enough.

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