Last time I wrote about the Final Trip in the Car, one of the hardest things we’d ever had to do.
We were so relieved and delighted to have received the reminder about the perfect place to heal some of our grief about our beloved boy. The Botanical Gardens welcomes us with its spring magnificence. Colours, trees, plants, flowers, bees, birds, grass, peace … Simply being in nature was very, very healing and soothing. We walked for a while down beautiful paths, next to a river.
Andrew is a talented photographer and he took some pictures of the gardens that will forever be etched in our memories. We decided to eat lunch in the garden restaurant. While it was cold outside, we were warmly dressed and we enjoyed being underneath huge and imposing trees.
Every now and again, my eyes filled with tears, all by themselves. Still not believing it. Thoughts about what had just happened came and went. Tears flowed, and dried. It was all so fresh and raw, real and upsetting, yet our hearts were calm and grateful. No more pain and discomfort for our little Jack. He was pain free, running and being shown around by the animals that had been awaiting his arrival.
We stayed quite a while, not really wanting to return home to an empty house. When we finally decided that we were ready to face it, our darling cat Emma was waiting just inside the front door. She greeted us loudly, with miauws, squeaks, purrs – full of admonishment for leaving her alone for so long! It was a true relief to hear some animal sounds and not to be greeted by complete silence. It felt like Jack had told her ahead of time to make sure she greeted us enthusiastically.
Something that really helped us over the next week especially was to buy that beautiful bunch of pink roses. I bought two enormous bunches and put one huge bunch in the lounge and a smaller one in our bedroom. I made a point of saying “Hello my boy!” every time I passed the stunning flowers. It truly felt like Jack was still present. There was something incredibly healing about still saying “hello” to him. The roses were a really special pink with darker and lighter patches, they took my breath away every time I saw them. They brought an incredibly loving feeling into my heart every single time I walked past. It was like a healing balm on an open wound.
We made a point of crying when we needed to. I was in tears more often than Andrew over the next few days. He took me in his loving arms whenever the tears started flowing, letting me just feel the pain. I appreciated it more than words can say. He was so loving, so kind, so allowing… and the tears left every time much quicker than I thought. In incredible kindness landed between us, for a few weeks. It felt like Jack’s passing brought us so much closer together. I can’t express in words my gratitude for this deep compassion and kindness that helped both of us to process our loss.
To tell the truth, I was waiting for “the big cry” – you know, that painful howling one that we see in movies. It never came. Soft, gentle tears flowed a few times, as often as needed. And they left again, I believe, because we simply allowed them. The sadness came and passed, like clouds in front of the sun.
We also did some tapping while we felt the sadness. There were no words necessary – we were already tuned in to our feelings. Saying the words when we tap, are actually just necessary to help us tune in to our emotions. When we’re already highly aware of them, on the right “station” so to speak, no words are necessary. The tapping did its gentle work.
Part of our healing also started when we had to start telling people that Jack went home. We live in a townhouse complex of 33 units and for 9 years, we went for a walk every single day with Jack. Now, people saw us without Jack and the inevitable questions came. The first few people, who asked, got a teary response. The hugs, sympathy and support meant the world to us. We also had to let our dear friends know, who looked after Jack when we went away. They were devastated and sent us the most exquisite orchid. More flowers, to heal our pain.
The day after Jack passed into the light, we chose to look at all the photographs of him. It literally took hours – because there were so many and because we had to search for them in between the thousands of photographs on Andrew’s hard-drive. It was an incredible experience, to see what he’d looked like even 5 years before.
I’d forgotten what he was like in his prime, all the later ill-health images had completely flooded my mind. It was a huge relief and a wonderful remembering to see all the fabulous photographs Andrew had taken over 9 years. Such a stark contrast between the fat (almost obese) dog when we received him, to the thin little face we said goodbye to. What a blessing, to see all the facets of the diamond again.
For about a week, we held a special ceremony every evening with candles. We sat quietly, each with our thoughts about him, just looking at the candles and their gentle, dancing light. We felt peaceful as we remembered the good times, the hard times, the struggle and knowing that Jack was now in the very best, most peaceful place possible. In the light.
We received phone calls and messages from friends who heard the news. Every phone call and conversation offered a bit of healing, by helping us to remember he was a well-loved dog who made a difference in so many people’s lives.
And finally, my best healing tool, as you can probably imagine, was to write about my experience. One afternoon a few days after Jack passed on, I had an incredible urge to get it all out on paper before I forgot what it felt like. I wrote for hours, with hardly a pause. Lots of tears flowed again, as I remembered every small little detail that was etched in my mind.
It’s now a month after he passed away and already the memories are easing, fading, getting fuzzy edges. As I read the earlier paragraphs in this chapter, I felt so very grateful that I wrote it all down in such detail. The mind forgets when the rest of life picks up the pace again. I’m so grateful I can revisit those last days and hours because I wrote about it.
If you enjoy writing, I’d love to encourage you to write and journal about it. And then, if you feel teary or if you’re howling and hurting, let the tears flow, let it be okay and if you need to, use tapping while you cry to ease the pain.
It’s been an incredible privilege that Jack chose to spend his life with us. It’s been an equal privilege to share this journey with you. My wish for you, too, is to find peace in the knowledge that our animals wish us well, they want us to feel peaceful and calm, they want us to be happy. And it’s my wish that you can give yourself that permission.