Ever been asked by a sad young family member why their pet had to die?
Or where do animals come from? These and other questions can catch us off guard! Sometimes they come from out of the blue, yet often they come on the heels of a pet’s death or birth.
Tracy’s niece, Jessica, experienced both in just two days! Imagine the swirling emotions of a 13 yr. old girl trying to make sense of witnessing a dog’s dying and a wild horse birth in just 48 hours. While visiting Steadfast Steeds, that’s exactly what occurred.
Akiva was a “wild child rescue” from the Humane Society. Over the next 12 years, he was a beloved family dog who loved to catch frisbees and rabbits. Though he learned to refrain from catching rabbits, thankfully. With the permission of her parents in Missouri, Jessica chose to be with Tracy and I when it was time for the veterinarian to mercifully help Akiva “take the journey”; “cross the rainbow bridge”, as we like to say.
We were all a mess of course! Tears ran as freely as Akiva used to. And then, we placed his body in a grave on the sanctuary property while sharing memories, gratitude, and prayers.
How to we help death and loss make sense to young ones?! You know what? We don’t. “Making sense” of things beyond our control and grasp is an agenda that grown-ups have. And it’s not all that necessary.
There’s a healthier happier way! And it can accelerate our recovery as well.
Make or do something together
Prior to Akiva’s passing, we cast his paw prints in a mold. Then we created the memorial in a frisbee of course! The craft provided a way for talking, crying, listening. It gave us some power to do something with our grief and loss. Even more than this, it helped us to make another amazing memory with Akiva.
We learn so many life lessons from our beloved pets! Patience, discipline, chores, accountability, unconditional love, and on and on. Those memories only die with the pet if we let them. However, keeping those life lessons and memories alive is a way of honoring the legacy of the relationship between the pet and other family members, two legged and four legged alike.
Shift from “trying to make sense” to “making another amazing memory”
When we shift our energy and focus from the death and loss to what we still have, it adds traction to our recovery. “Some life lessons that I’m going to remember about (pet’s name) are…” Then see the pet in your mind’s eye during the years of health and happiness. This can soothe the pain of loss as well as preserve memories that death cannot take away.
An untamed wild horse birth
Two days after Akiva’s burial, we were hurting in many ways. Jessica’s two-week internship adventure was ending. Tomorrow we would drive her to the airport early.
And we had been anticipating a birth by an untamed mustang that we had rescued 5 months earlier.
“Stardust” was named by four young sisters in Chicago who emptied their piggy banks to help the rescue and name the horse. And Stardust was due any day!
Jessica’s question was filled with longing, dread, and perhaps a bit of hope, when she asked, “TT, do you think that Stardust’s baby will be born before I go?!”
“Well,” Tracy paused, letting go of her need to make sense of it all or over explain the biological process. “Let’s intend it to be so! We still have today.”
Now, Tracy knows that wild horses nearly always give birth under the safety of deep night darkness. That “makes sense.” And Tracy also knows the power of prayerful intentions for the good of all involved.
The day’s activities seemed to drag along, when, just minutes before sunset, Tracy yelled from the corral area, “Hey! Come quick! Stardust’s having her baby!”
Laying in the long grass, under an inspiring Western Colorado sunset, Stardust vulnerably allowed the three of us and the family band of horses to witness the miraculous birth of Princess Jenavive “PJ”. A name that Jessica got to participate in creating.
We were actually very nervous, because we had learned that a number of pregnant horses rescued from the horrific domestic situation, had given birth to deceased or deformed babies already that spring.
So we watched with bated breath… helpless and inspired by the life and death and relationship process which we could not control. Our only solace was that we did not feel the need to make sense of it all, only to experience it fully as the present moment unfolded before us.
Can you imagine the supper conversation?! We had just made another amazing memory together! Now, our tears flowed with joy and laughter replaced the crying as we celebrated through the evening.
PJ is a healthy happy girl! And she’s not the only one. The memories made with Jessica have deepened our relationships with one another, animals, and Creator in ways that just don’t make sense. And thankfully they don’t!
Emphasize the relationshipsSo, rather than trying to have the answers to life’s overwhelming questions, emphasize the relationships that sustain us, fill us, and love us through birth, life, and even death. For the memories we make will always be amazing when we make them together.
Make your own amazing memories with America’s mustangs, visit us www.SteadfastSteeds.org/Mustangs where you can sponsor Jenavive and other mustangs.