Monday, July 28, 2014

Your Dog Grieves with You

     Recently, social media pictured a German Shepherd canine officer placing his paw on the casket of his human policeman partner at the partner's funeral.  I have read dogs can smell and interpret life and death instinctively.  Wanting to know where you have been and what you were doing is supposedly why they sniff you all over when you return home.  By sniffing they find out what went on with you while you were out.

     Also, it is apparent dogs can be tuned into your emotions.  So it would seem when you are sad and grieve, your dog picks up on it.  Dogs, too, surely miss the family member who has died and grieve in their own way.  I would say this is especially true in the death of a child who they have always protected.

     In my own case, my dog, Amber, grieved for the loss of my son, Chris.  Amber always slept with me on the bottom left hand corner of the bed where she could see the neighborhood  through three windows.  After Chris died, she moved to the bottom right hand corner of the bed where she could see the top of the stairs and Chris' bedroom door.  She seemed to be waiting for him to re-appear.  How much you and I pine for our children to return.  And so Amber seemed to be pining.

     One night, a good friend of Chris' visited me.  After he was gone, Amber laid down on the edge of the family room carpet where she could see the front door.  I believe she felt if Chris' friend appeared, he would not be far behind.  She apparently remembered this friend being with Chris.

     Amber made a big, happy yawn when Chris or Chris and I together would give her attention.  After Chris died, she never did this again.  It was if her life was forever changed as was mine.  I believe if you have a dog you have a creature who understands loss.  You can grieve together and get through the tremendous change together.  Hold onto and love your dog.  I know from experience, it can help you both.

     As a final comment, I would say watch your dog carefully as there are those people who believe dogs can see spirits of the deceased.  Like children, they supposedly can see spirits because they have no human adult inhibitions. I remember one time, Amber was standing on Chris' bed and I was sitting on the floor.  There was a rocking chair beside the bed.  Amber's gaze was fixed on the rocker and she was wagging her tail.  I was convinced she could see the spirit of Chris sitting in the chair.  I could not, but there were other similar incidents.

     I took comfort in knowing, through Amber,  Chris was visiting and had not forgotten us.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Touching Your Spirit

     It is good to cry, tap into your pain and pray in solitude to hear the Father's voice.  I did this a few days ago.  My prayer was, "Father, speak to me in the darkness."  You can only stuff down your pain for so long before you have to acknowledge it, face it, and try to walk through it.  Not to end it because that will not happen, but to dull it and learn to walk along beside it.

     For me to do this, I have to take a spiritual approach.  Recently, I visited Fatima, Portugal.  Fatima is where Catholics believe the Blessed Mother Mary appeared to three peasant children around the time of World War I.  Miracles of cures and healing have been attributed to Mary at Fatima so people visit there for all types of healing.

     I went there to place my needs and intentions in Mary's hands.  I found it such a place of peace, that one day I broke down and cried and could not stop.  I needed to talk to the priest who accompanied our group on our tour.  I realized how much I missed my son, Chris, and husband, Fred.  Like I said, you can dull the pain, but not eliminate it entirely.  Father recommended I read the books of Joyce Rupp, a Catholic nun, who writes inspirational books on pain, loss and darkness in one's life.

     In Rupp's book, Praying Our Goodbyes, I read the chapter on the loss of a child.  Very moving.  Her words cover a lot of emotion with great understanding and very succinctly unlike a lot of other books.  I was able to read it in a short time and get something out of it.  I was moved to tears by the words of her prayer:  "He (she) can never be replaced.  We search for inner peace, and strain for the acceptance of this reality.... We hurt with the heartache of our loss.  Help us to believe the sorrow will lessen as the days go on..."

     You may feel too angry at God to pray.  I understand this.  I, too at times, have felt anger.  And I have felt too tired, too distraught and too hopeless to pray.  I have found when I tell God how I feel and have a frank discussion with Him, I can move past the emotion to prayer.

     I will pray and hope you find your way to touching some spiritual comfort.  Even if you only say, "God, take this pain away," or "God, help me get through this."  That is enough of a prayer.  Even if you have never prayed, you can pray now with just one sentence telling God what you need.

     My prayer for you is "May you find some comfort today."