If you missed the first chapter of our kitty Emma’s journey, you can read it here.
A final goodbye
A few Saturdays ago, we got a message from Emma’s ‘new’ Dad that she was at the vet with suspected kidney failure. The vet wanted to keep her on a drip for 48 hours.
Our hearts nearly stopped … and at the same time, we knew she was already 17 or 18 years old. There’s uncertainty about her age because the neighbours who Emma lived with originally, could not remember what year they rescued her from a building site.
48 hours came and went, and the vet wanted to keep her one more day. The sad news came that her blood results were off the charts — so high that no special kidney diet was going to make any kind of difference.
We had the opportunity to say one last goodbye on a video call with Colin and our Emma. Colin fetched her from her bed, and held her in his lap while we talked to her… We assured her of our absolute love and devotion, and said our last goodbyes.
We were all in tears. Colin was going to take her back to the vet the next morning to be euthanised. Fortunately we were all in agreement about doing what was best for her.
My previous resolution
I can remember how adamant I was 5 years ago — that when her time came, I wanted to be there for her. Unfortunately, this news was too sudden and I had to make peace with the fact that Colin would take her. He reassured us that with all his animals, he stands right in front of them so that his loving face is the last thing they see. He’s had to take many elderly animals to the vet in the past few years. My heart went out to him — I knew what a horrendously difficult task this was, as we had to do this for our Jack in 2014.
I didn’t sleep well that night after saying goodbye to Emma. I was awake often, thinking of her. “Was her last night on Mother Earth comfortable? Should I have asked Colin to try and give her some water every now and again? Should I have said or done more on her behalf?”
Sadness, regrets, what ifs…. All part of that last night, trying to comprehend that by midday the next day, Emma would not be present on earth anymore. Our brains try so hard to make sense of both eternity and finality, don’t they?
The next morning I woke with a heavy heart. This was the day… We sent messages of support to Emma’s family. And by mid-morning we received a sweet yet sad message with the last photo of our adorable black kitty. She’d crossed over, at the vet, in Colin’s arms.
Isn’t it strange what grief does? Even though I’d cried buckets ahead of time already knowing about her condition, the minute I got that message, there were floodgates again.
We can’t cry ahead of time and think it’s over and done with.
As my Angels would have it, I already had an EFT session scheduled for 15 minutes after I heard this news. It was a session for a different topic — and I almost decided to cancel it. But wisdom let me keep it — and I’m ever so glad I did.
Of course, I dissolved into tears the minute the session started. The practitioner was gentle, kind, and gave me as much time as I needed to just tap through all the immediate sadness, loss and pain.
And then gradually, we started unravelling some of the thoughts I’d been holding about her, over the years. We worked with some of the pieces I described above, with many pieces I’d forgotten about. It always fascinates me… as soon as there’s a safe, kind, accepting space, the subconscious and superconscious will bring to awareness exactly what’s needed to resolve.
I spent around half an hour in tears, processing different aspects of losing Emma — both times. And then, the session turned to other pieces of my life, related to feeling responsible.
This brings me to a few points I want to make about processing grief:
We don’t come to any kind of grief with a clean slate.
We bring all our other patterns into it. For me, lots of responsibility (the over-the-top kind), and guilt were mixed in with painful sadness. Whatever your patterns are — you’ll find them woven together in the loss, sadness and grief. Our background, our beliefs, our values all play a role in how we experience and move through grief.
Letting go of the grief is not the same as letting go of the person (or animal).
Sometimes we unconsciously think we need to hang on to the grief to remember the person or animal. The emotion can feel like a direct link to them. And it might even feel disloyal to let the sadness go. It’s what our feelings and perhaps a belief tell us, yet it’s not the truth.
We can remember and experience the joy, the love, the connection with an open heart when the grief is not so intense anymore.
Grief can be processed with more safety and ease than we imagine, with EFT.
I mentioned earlier we often ‘don’t want to go there’ because we fear it’ll be too painful, and we’ll never surface again from the ocean of sadness. Not so. In that first half hour with the practitioner, I processed so much of it, so gently and safely, that I was astounded I could even move on to a different (yet related) topic. It happens this way with EFT — because we literally discharge emotion from a part of the brain called the amygdala. Then we can think more clearly, and be more present with ‘what is.’
There are ways to safely contain grief and other emotions.
There are effective and gentle ways to contain the big things in a session, so it doesn’t swamp our nervous system. I use and teach those ways in client sessions, so that they can contain difficult things between sessions, too. It’s completely unnecessary and undesirable for all the grief and other painful things, to flood our systems all at once.
Grief comes in layers.
Usually the thing/person/situation we feel grief around, has multiple aspects or links to other things. We certainly don’t have to process it all in one session. We can discharge one piece at a time. Then, another piece will show itself — the next important piece to work with. It comes in layers, it’s not all one big thing. Sometimes we need a bit of space in between. Minutes, days, or weeks.
I could not have dealt with all the Emma-pieces I wrote about here, in one EFT session. I worked with smaller pieces at a time, over a few years — and then the next layer was ready. Sometimes there are several layers to one piece — for instance grief and guilt together can make it very tangled and messy. We deal with one layer at a time, and visit the next piece when we’re ready.
Admittedly, I could have tackled these grief and loss pieces around Emma a lot sooner. I regret that I didn’t.
And that’s my message for you today:
If you’ve been walking around with unhealed grief — please know it’s possible to work through it gently, with love, compassion and kindness. Get in touch if you’re wondering if it might be right for you. Unhealed grief has a large effect on our nervous system, which has a direct effect on our health and wellbeing.
Your heart can feel better, and you can get in touch with love and softness again, instead of squashing down the painful feelings over and over.