Pet Loss Grief Support Animals in our Hearts  Animal Communication Teresa Wagner
  • Everything that lives is holy.

    William Blake

Loss, Grief & Afterlife

Teresa Wagner
www.animalsinourhearts.com
copyright 2010 all rights reserved

 


Like many people, it comforts me to have certain things around me to memorialize my beloved animals who have died: framed photos, photo albums, portraits, memorial candles, urns, grave markers, jewelry with their paw prints or name, scrapbooks or memorial boxes filled with treasured mementos, holding memorial services, sharing stories about my animal, etc. There are, of course, countless, meaningful ways to memorialize a loved one which can bring us comfort and honor our animal. However, nothing is a higher tribute to a loved one who has died than to identify, acknowledge and use the legacies they left behind, the legacies that live on in our hearts.

I don’t think I’ve ever talked with a person who’s lost their animal who wouldn’t say that the number one legacy from their animal is love. When we think of the legacies of love our animals gave us, it can be healing to reflect on: How that love was expressed or manifested? How was it unique? How was it shared? What did we learn from it, and how can we integrate and apply that learning into the fabric of our lives? Memorializing is comforting, and mourning is normal and necessary. But memorializing is not the same as investing the legacies we’ve been left so they can grow. If we inherit a million dollars and stash it under our mattress it will not grow. But if we invest it in good works it will grow in ways that may continue to enrich us and others forever.

When my cat Muffin died many years ago I was utterly lost in the pain of it. In time, however, when I realized that the legacy left to me was the unconditional love he showered me with, which was my first experience of unconditional love, I knew I had a choice: to be in pain from this huge loss the rest of my life, or, to learn to give myself what he gave me. That is often what keeps us so painfully stuck in our grief--thinking that we can’t possibly keep the emotional and energetic gifts we received from our animals after they’ve died. We can. When I finally realized that it was time for me to learn to give myself what Muffin had given me, I began my journey to learn to love myself. I learned that without him loving me to the depths that he did, I never would have learned that I was lovable. And what a waste it would have been to wallow the rest of my life about the loss of him giving me that love in person, rather than learning how to love myself even as I grieved his physical presence. This did not make my grief go away. I grieved for him for a very, very long time. But it did fill me with a great sense of hope and fulfillment--that I was using what he gave me to grow.

A year ago, I experienced another unexpected opportunity to identify and use a legacy left to me. On one of my whale swim trips we came across a month old humpback calf who was tortuously entangled in fishing gear--float line embedded deeply into his flesh and through his mouth, and trailing 150 feet of line and two huge fishing traps. For four hours a captain than a dive master valiantly tried to free him of this but was only able to cut off the trailing lines and the traps. This weak calf, whom we call Little One, died ten days later. Witnessing this, both physically and in my ongoing conversations with Little One and his deeply grieving mother over time, rocked me to my core. I knew that I could no longer simply enjoy the spiritual high of being with these beloved humpbacks. I needed now to speak out for them about how supporting commercial fishing--i.e. eating any type of fish--not only litters the oceans but causes the slow, tortuous death of whales, dolphins and other marine animals. This little whale left me the legacy that loving in good times is not enough, that when I love, I need to be willing to speak up on behalf of those I love, whether speaking the truth is popular or not. I have found that it was a lot easier to just love the whales and let the activism to others. But I cannot not speak the truth after what I witnessed. This is Little One’s legacy to me.

The choices I have made to use the legacies left to me are merely my personal examples. They may or may not be choices others would make. What is important for our healing is for each of us to discover and cherish the unique legacies left to us, and to use them for the betterment of ourselves and the world around us. What better way could we honor the animals who have brought us so much love than to invest their legacies?

Healing Exercise:

Defining "legacies" as:
Gifts we’ve received from an animal, things we’ve learned about ourselves, about relationships, about life, about death, about our beliefs, about who we are, about who we want to be. . .

Ask yourself the following questions.  You may want to read the questions first, then close you eyes, go to the deepest part of your heart where your love for animals resides, and allow the "answers" to come:

What legacies have you received from the life you shared with your animal?

What legacies, if any, did you receive even from the experience of the loss itself?


What legacy have you received from the death of any wild animal?


How can you use these to enrich your soul and your life on earth?


heart sampleOne glossv4

To further explore these issues you may want to:

Participate in the 8 hour teleclass workshop Legacies of Love

Listen to a download of the audio book Legacies of Love

Read through the web pages on Comfort and Support in Your Time of Grief


If your animal is ill or on the other side, and you want to connect with him or her telepathically, begin by giving yourself a period of undisturbed time by yourself-- perhaps about ten to fifteen minutes, or more if you like. Sit quietly. You do not need to be physically near your animals who are still physically on earth in order to talk with them. In fact, sometimes it is easier to be off by ourselves, not distracted by the visuals of their beauty and our love of their form, which can keep us focused on the physical rather than the soul. Or, it can keep us focused on their illness which can trigger worry or grief. However, if it feels more comforting or appropriate for you to be with your animals, that’s OK. Just be sure to make the intention that you wish to connect with their soul at this time, not primarily their body or personality. Of course, the energy of their personalty may come through in your conversation, and, information about the body may be something you seek or your animal wants to talk with you about. But what we need to focus on in telepathy is beyond and deeper than the body and the personality. In telepathy, we are not reading the body or reading the mind to get information about our animals from some distant, detached vantage point; we are connecting with their spirits to talk with them intimately. If your animal is no longer on the earth, the same principle is true. If a photograph (or other sacred physical item like a collar or fur) comforts you, by all means keep it with you for this process. But know that nothing physical is necessary to make a telepathic connection. Again, just be careful to make the intention to connect with your animal’s soul--their spirit which transcends physicality and personality.

1. Sit quietly, sit comfortably. Become aware of your breathing, just aware of it, in and out, with no need to change it in any way. Just allow yourself to sit quietly become aware of your breath.

2. Let yourself begin to relax, give yourself permission to relax, and being releasing any tension in your body and mind. Picture and feel any tension or worry or stress leaving you-- from your head down through your feet, gently being released. Ask your Spirit Guides or all those you pray to to help you with this. Let the feeling of peaceful relaxation go on for a few moments or minutes if it feels comfortable or right to do so.

3. Hold one or both of your hands to your heart, and picture a beautiful, luminous gold chord connecting you and your animal, a chord connecting the two of you, a chord from your heart to theirs. Let yourself smile gently picturing this--this perfect and eternal connection between you and your animal that nothing can ever, ever break.

4. Feel and bask in the love between you. You know this love so well. The love between you that transcends everything--it is bigger than illness, bigger than death, bigger than grief, bigger than any pain. Let yourself just melt into the love that you share. Feel the perfection of the love--beyond bodies, beyond time, beyond place or circumstance, just your two souls melded together in your love. Let this fill you with gentle peacefulness and deep calm. If you cry, just let the tears come. Know that the great love you share exists right along with tears. Let grace begin to heal any sadness or fear, and allow the greatness of your shared love to begin to bring healing to any tears, even as they may flow. Allow the presence of Grace. Feel yourself being carried above all worry, grief or concern.

5. And now, from this place of connection with the soul of your beloved animal, this place of stillness and grace, begin talking with your animal, easily and naturally right from your heart. Say what you need to say, or ask what you need to ask. Then just quietly listen. The responses you receive may come in words, or they may come in feelings, or in images. They may also come in any combination of these things. Just listen, and stay with the calmness and glory of the Love and Grace. Say all else you need to say, and know without a doubt that whatever you may receive or not receive, your animal will receive your messages.

When we connect in Love, when we ask and listen and speak with Love, it is impossible for our animal to not receive our messages. And for the moments we are in this Love together, no matter how much emotional pain there may be of grief, of worry, of sadness or uncertainty, when we stay in the Love, even for those few minutes, all the other emotions are diminished. Their power to devastate us is lessened. And we are more free to support our animal and ourselves.

As you leave the telepathic connection, and you will know this naturally, know that you may continue to receive messages (in words, feelings or images) as you go through your day and night. When they come, do not doubt them, know they are real. If it would help you to ask your animal, or your own spiritual guides, to help you feel confidence in the truth of the messages, ask them for signs of confirmation. When you are truly open to this, it will come. The more we take ourselves to that calm place of shared love that lies inside of us, the more likely it is that we will perceive our animal’s messages.


A longer version of this meditation to help us connect with our animals after death is available both on CD and as a download


You may also find it helpful to read the article Ideas to Building Confidence and Overcoming Doubts About Telepathic Communication with Animals
or listen to the CD Guided Meditation to Use Before Telepathic Animal Communication


Teresa Wagner
www.animalsinourhearts.com
copyright 2010 Teresa Wagner all rights reserved



The goal of grief recovery is to heal the heart and to use the crisis of loss to grow. Healing the heart can include understanding and lessening feelings of pain, confusion, resentment, guilt or other difficult emotions, while strengthening a sense of acceptance and peace around our loss. Using the crisis to grow can include identifying and cherishing the mutual gifts of the relationship, fully embracing the lessons emerging from the loss, and consciously choosing to use them in our lives. Integrating the gifts and lessons of the relationships into our way of being may be the finest tribute we can make to our animal loved ones. Grief recovery is not just about feeling better, it is about becoming more whole. It is a conscious choice to heal and grow. And as we journey through our healing process, it can help to dispel some myths about grieving.

One common myth about grief we often hear is “you’ll get over it.” We don’t “get over” our grief from a major life loss, it becomes part of who we are. When someone suggests that we “get over it” the implication is that we can let it go from our lives as if nothing truly significant has happened--that we can snap out of it, easily put it behind us, or perhaps even easily replace what was lost. Allowing our grief to become part of who we are, on the other hand, doesn’t mean we live in a state of grief forever. It means that rather than pretend nothing traumatic has happened, we can face what has happened, squarely and with courage, and attempt to learn to accept death and loss as part of our life. Moving on from an intense experience such as grief without fully processing its meaning is not fully living--it’s pretending. So we don’t “get over” grief, but we can consciously heal from it, and move on in our lives with deepened meaning from the experience.

A second myth is that we can heal our grief exclusively from either an emotional or a spiritual frame of reference, that we do not have to address both. Grief is an emotionally painful process. Deep and poignant feelings cry out to be faced and dealt with. Yet it is a spiritual process also. Psychological work helps us heal feelings, to find comfort and support, but it is only connecting with our spirit--with our soul--that allows us to find meaning, to see the bigger picture, and find answers to our questions about life and death. It is in both completing our emotional unfinished business along with embracing our spirituality that we find peace.

Approaching our grief with only a spiritual perspective can create an unhealthy by-pass of emotions, pretending our feelings will go away simply because we’ve spiritually accepted the death of our loved one. This doesn’t work. Strong feelings don’t disappear, they just go underground and come back to haunt us later, pushing us to recognize and heal them. Strong spiritual beliefs do not eliminate our need to heal emotionally. But what they can do, powerfully yet gently, is shift the basic quality, the very character of our emotional pain so it is experienced not with suffering, but with grace.

Processing our feelings can help bring us emotional clarity and completion. Embracing our spirituality brings us the opportunity for peace and grace. We need and deserve both.

A third myth is that time heals all wounds. Time does not heal emotional wounds. The passage of time merely lessens the intensity of our pain, or allows us to escape it through new activities or relationships. Only conscious intent truly heals, not time alone. Healing our grief is not a passive process. Understanding the often described stages of grief such as shock, anger, suffering and disorganization, depression, and acceptance, can help us normalize the range of emotions we feel and our experience. But if we merely wait for the stages of grief to pass through us, we’re taking a passive, reactive stance in regard to our loss, making us even less empowered than we may already feel after a major loss. It takes proactive, conscious intent to heal grief. When we have a physical wound, if we allow only the passage of time to heal it, with no medication, it may scar over. Our body may still function, but the area may always be tender, and may not fully function. The same is true of our grief. We can allow time to carry us to a phase of less pain, to allow us to bury the hurt as we become involved in activity, but we’re not really healed then, just scarred over, and not fully functioning. When we bury any pain, part of our energy is used to protect that place of burial. The energy used for that protection is energy unavailable to us for full living in the present. Though healing is certainly not a linear experience that we can control and manage like a project, healing is an intentional process that we can navigate instead of passively waiting to get better. Just as the captains of ships cannot control weather or waves, but nevertheless go to sea prepared to navigate their journey versus merely being at the mercy of the elements, we too, can skillfully navigate our journey through grief and come through it enriched in a place of greater peace.

If you like the use of visual metaphor, you may enjoy imagining your journey of grief occurring as a trip over a humpback bridge. Evelyn Isadore, my first spiritual teacher (human teacher) had a beautiful Asian painting of a humpback bridge in her office. She used to tell her students that true healing from life problems and hurts entailed mustering the faith and courage to cross the humpback bridge of transition. You see, when first stepping onto a humpback bridge, we can’t see anything but the highly steeped bridge ahead and deep water below. We can’t see the other side and the walk to the top seems arduous. To go across, to get to that full healing, we must first go straight uphill. We can get scared and stay stuck at our first step onto the bridge. We can turn around and forget even trying to go over this bridge of healing out of fear. We can even give up and jump into the waters out of despair or depression. Or we can garner support and comfort in every way we know to help us keep walking over the bridge. We can take a leap of faith to believe it’s worth it to keep going.

Once at the top, the vista is clear, wide, peaceful and all encompassing. From this vantage point of the big picture we can see the past from where we’ve come and the possibilities for our future. We can better see and appreciate all the gifts we still have from the relationship that is physically gone from us. Looking upward we can feel the grace of God in the sky and feel the spirit of our loved ones with us. Looking downward we can see our true selves reflected in the water. From this place we can much more easily complete unfinished business, and we can see the lessons and gifts from where we’ve come. The journey downhill from the top is almost effortless in comparison to the arduous climb up, giving us time to recover from our steep climb and to integrate all we’ve learned, preparing us to reach the other side more whole, ready to move on. There is not only hope at this point in the journey, but knowledge that there is opportunity for joy in life again, even without the one we have physically lost by our side.

These three distinct components of the journey over the bridge--mustering the strength and courage to just keep going, going far and high enough to see the whole picture to come to completion, and time to integrate our learning to move on--can be likened to three necessary components of healing grief:

Coping and Finding Comfort
Completion of Emotional Unfinished Business
Creation--Moving On and Transforming Grief into Growth


To further explore these issues you may want to:

Participate in the 8 hour teleclass workshop Legacies of Love:

Listen to a download of the audio book Legacies of Love: A Gentle Guide to Healing From the Loss of Your Animal Loved One

Read through the web pages on Comfort and Support in Your Time of Grief



copyright 2006 Teresa Wagner
all rights reserved

Anticipating the return of our beloved animals back into our lives on earth can be a very exciting time. It can also be daunting as we worry about things like: where will we find them? how will I know the right time? how will I really know it's them? In addition to information you may receive during a communication session with your animal, I have put together some thoughts and resources to help you understand, trust, and manage the typical and natural anxiety of the reunion process. I hope it will support you and I wish you a glorious reunion experience!

copyright 2005 Teresa Wagner
all rights reserved

The day was exceptionally warm for early October on the waters off of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Sitting on the bow of the boat feeling warm, gentle breezes touch my skin and hair, I was delighted to need only a tee shirt and shorts to go whale watching in the Gulf of Maine in the Fall. I had been traveling here for many years to see humpbacks in both spring and fall weather. It was a first to have such warmth out on the water. Little did I know that soon I would be stunned by a bigger surprise, and offered one of the most important lessons of my life.

The Story of Lambchop and of Blue Jay

copyright 2000 Teresa Wagner
all rights reserved

What follows are two brief stories of the use of flower essences with animals and death: One in which I believe I used them effectively, and one in which I completely missed the mark. I hope you will find them useful.