When a beloved furry pet dies, it can feel very sad.
Several people have written me lately about their animal friends dying, and feeling grief, depression, regret.
I haven’t had a pet as an adult…but I understand the welling up of tears and all the thoughts that start to churn that may turn out to feel stressful.
- I miss him
- I should have done more with her
- If only I had known that was his last day
- her life was too short
- I could have done better
Funny how when something is “lost” and the life of that animal, or person even, is over….we sometimes want to reach back and grab for more.
More time, more cuddles, more conversations, more intimacy.
A dear inquirer who recently lost a little cat noticed thoughts of guilt entering her mind….
….if I had known she was going to die, I would have let her eat more food and enjoy more pleasures, not been so strict.
Let’s take a look at this difficult thought that can appear with loss of someone you love, whether a pet or a person.
I could have done better.
Is that true?
Are you sure?
Because you only knew what you knew, in that previous moment. You know a little more now, here in this moment. What if you weren’t supposed to know it back then?
The mind may argue….“but I DID kind of know. I should have paid attention, I should have followed my intuition, I knew I could do better, I could have been more clear, honest, aware, trusting, astute, kind…”
Are you really sure you could have done better? Are you 100% positive that you should have known what you didn’t know, or decided what you didn’t decide?
Many years ago, I became pregnant, and after terrible agonizing, had an abortion.
When asked later in life what I believed to be the absolute worst thing I had ever done, the thing I felt most guilt about…..it was that.
I had never known prior to that experience what post-traumatic stress syndrome might be like. I was beside myself with grief and regret. I was sick for days. It stayed with me for a decade. I was shocked by my own dreadful thoughts towards myself. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for years.
One of the first Byron Katie events I ever went to, a woman stood up and said it out loud. She regretted having an abortion.
I still felt so much shame, I couldn’t believe this woman told the same story, publicly, holding a microphone!
But as Katie asked her to question her beliefs, to do The Work, something shifted inside about this thing called “regret”.
In the dictionary, regret is defined as the sorrow about the loss of opportunity.
Ah, there’s the rub.
The image of the future or past (which is actually false and does not exist) where opportunity lives, or used to live.
Now, not only is this life lost, but this imagined and vivid alternate opportunity. The one where the person or animal I care about is alive, or happy.
Over and over again, in the distant past, I imagined the birthdate, the gender, the life of this child that never was.
Who would I be without that thought, that I could have done better?
“You can’t let go of a stressful thought, because you didn’t create it in the first place. A thought just appears. You’re not doing it. You can’t let go of what you have no control over. Once you’ve questioned the thought, you don’t let go of it, IT lets go of YOU. It no longer means what you thought it meant.” ~ Byron Katie
Imagine who you would be without the belief that you could have done better. Because it’s possible that what you’re thinking NOW is imagination, too.
Without that thought?
Freedom, acceptance for this self that is beyond knowing. Peace far, far past all the stuff I think.
A great feeling of everything being exceptionally well and very strange and mysterious.
I turn the thought around: I could not have done any better. I did the best I possibly could.
How could that be truer?
I can find how that experience drew me into such suffering that the equal and opposite breaking-free became possible. I contemplated short lives, and noticed that every length of life you could ever imagine happens here on planet earth….from a few hours to over 100 years.
I don’t have three children to take care of, I can focus on two.
“Clinging creates the bricks and mortar with which we build a conceptual self.” ~ Michael Singer
I gave that entity a gift of very little agonizing and suffering, and a return to a place without bodies…somewhere I’ll be again one day.
My life has been filled with so much, this life has not been empty because another life “left” it.
“Every loss has to be a gain, unless the loss is being judged by a confused mind….The simple truth of it is that what happens is the best thing that can happen.” ~ Byron Katie
What is the gain, in your life?
Much love, Grace