Shortly after Margaret lost her Father, Arthur, who I wrote about in the last post, “The Present”, there was another sad loss of life that further compounded her grief.
“We had another very sad loss over the weekend which was compounded by many factors. My husband, Joe, let ICE, our beautiful 3-year-old pit bull out at 5 am. She went after a lizard and fell into the deep end of our pool. She went straight down. It all happened right in front of him. Somehow Joe was able to get her out and tried to do CPR but couldn’t save her. So there is shock and guilt and a lot of grief. There is no answer or explanation to find comfort.”
“I have not had a dream about my Dad since he died 3 months ago, until this happened. I went back to sleep at 10 am after this horrible incident and had this dream. My daughter, Angela, was talking to my Dad on the phone. I told her to ask him if he had our dog, ICE. (In my dream, I think both my Dad and ICE were alive).She asked him and turned to me to say, “Pop pop has her!” Without really thinking about it, I said, “OK, let’s go get her!” In my dream, we were on our way to meet my Dad to pick ICE up, but I woke up before we got there. Strange, yet not.”
“ICE was the sweetest, most gentle dog, ever. It was such a freak accident that I have trouble wrapping my head around. My nephew came over and helped us bury her. But it was awful and I couldn’t stand the thought of her buried on the side of the house. I had even bought a tree to plant in her memory. No one could walk by there without crying. Something just wasn’t right.”
“I found a place called, Paws and Cherish, in my area, and explained that we really wanted to have her cremated instead. They were incredible. The compassion and understanding they showed us was so comforting. They came with the van and removed her from the grave we dug a few days before. They had a body bag they placed her in with such dignity. (I couldn’t actually watch him take her from the grave). They drove her to their business and cremated her. When they were done, they called me to come pick her ashes up.”
“The white box on the right of her memorial table is where they placed the urn with her ashes. Her name was on the outside. When I opened the box, inside the urn was laying on a bed of paw print tissue paper, complete with small pillow of the same on one end where the top of the urn was, and there was a red rose on top and a small silver charm with a paw print and heart.”
“It felt so right bringing her back “home” inside the house with us where she belongs, instead of outside in the ground, in the rain. I found the middle square wood piece with the frames for pictures and chose the pictures and the urn fit perfectly inside. Then, I put a candle and another picture of her in a frame along with the original box and the sympathy card they gave us. It was so healing. My Mom had sent flowers because that’s what my Dad would have done, so we put those on the table at first too.”
“I still miss her every day but I am so incredibly grateful for the dream I had that morning, with my Dad saying that ICE was with him. It was so perfect!”
“There was another comforting experience I had. At a local event, we ran across Roland, a hospice nurse who has an incredible gift. As my daughter, Angela, and myself were leaving the event he was at, he stopped her in the aisle. He looked at Angela and said, “You are here to be healed. Please come see me after, if you have an open mind to it.”
“Naturally, we went to see him! At some point the conversation settled on my Father and Angela’s Grandfather, Arthur. I might have mentioned that my Dad passed from here to heaven very quickly because he was such a good person and had completed his work here. Roland spoke up in a matter of fact sort of way and told us that my Father had our dog, ICE and that it was he who lifted her from that pool at 5 am that Sunday morning. “How else would she have gotten out?” Roland queried. As I thought about what he was saying and how it was a mystery that somehow, Joe, had gotten her out of the water, I knew this had to be true, as my husband, having late stage lung cancer and in need of a lung transplant, was too sick to go into the water to get her. He did, however, give her mouth to mouth resuscitation and CPR trying to revive her before screaming for us to come.
“I have had dogs all my life and my Dad was always the only one who could comfort me when I lost one. That’s the only explanation I can find for the dream. He sure has been busy!”
Commentary- As if it is not painful enough to experience the loss of a loved one, when it happens again, shortly thereafter, the grief experienced is generally even more compounded and confusing to those who remain. And so it was when Margaret lost her father, then her dog, ICE, within a time period of a little over 3 months. Duplicate loss of life can be difficult to heal because of the complications of deepening pain, additional layers of grief, and more processing of this grief to be dealt with and healed.
When it comes to a death that makes no sense, such as in the case of ICE’s “freak” drowning accident, it’s like one of those mind tricks we sometimes play on ourselves that says, “If (I, he, she or they) wouldn’t have done that, then, this would have never happened.” Or “If (I, he, she or they) did that just one minute earlier or later, the outcome would have been different.” Chances are good that Margaret’s family have taken turns with these typical thoughts of guilt and blame, as well as other ones that people come up with to try to explain the unexplainable of what happened. But these mind tricks only serve to cast blame and make one to feel even more responsible and guilty than they already feel. And that’s just what many people do. In efforts to wrap the incident up in their heads, so they can begin to find some closure, people need an explanation for senselessness, however it is obtained, and however irrational it may be at the time. And guilt and blame are usually not productive to one’s healing, but many times serves as a hinderance to it.
No one knew there was a lizard for ICE to chase into the water that morning, only that ICE had to do her business in the wee hours of morning and needed to be let out. I’m sure ICE had chased plenty of lizards and been kept perfectly safe before. The sad fact is that… on this morning… there was a terrible accident that ICE didn’t physically recover from. And, as hard as it is to reckon with, no one is to blame. It was simply an accident. In other words, it happened for no good reason. And this can be a difficult reality for anyone who has lost a loved one in a senseless manner, to grapple with. But still, we grapple.
When our beloved pets pass from our lives, it is not unusual for us to go through the stages of grief, to one extent or another. The usual stages of grief typically include basic emotional states such as shock, denial, sadness and sometimes anger and blame at life’s seeming indifference that these hurtful things can happen to us. Eventually, the grief process leads to resolution, acceptance and healing, in most cases.
Although these family members are just pets, their owners have cared for them, shared time with them, loved them and deeply bonded with them. In return their pets have reciprocated with their love and loyalty to their owners. Taking this into account, it’s understandable why their pets sudden absence is considered a great loss and living life without them can be difficult, as they are greatly missed. And just like a human bond, the physical aspects of that pet and their owner’s relationship to them seem to dissipate into nothingness as their pet ceases to exist in the physical world… and it’s sad, yet that bond of love is not broken. That is what remains.
Having lost pets before, many people are already sensitive to the fact that pets are actually considered as family members among those who love them. It means so much when people take seriously the pain that is felt within these families and do their best to support them in their time of need. It’s important for family and friends to acknowledge a pet’s death and offer condolences, as this is truly a painful time in one’s life.
Obviously, there are those in the business who understand the significance of a pet’s life and death to an owner. “Paws and Cherish” was the one who Margaret found in her area. They offered compassionate services like being sensitive, kind and gentle when it came to excavating the earthly remains of their precious pet, cremating her, and giving ICE a place of honor in the physical world for Margaret’s family to remember. This certainly left a positive impression on Margaret and made Margaret and her family feel much better about this tragedy. You can see how important compassion is in healing a loss. Sensitivity and compassion can not be over emphasized here.
Another great help to healing is when one receives an after-death communication. In this case, after Arthur’s passing, Margaret’s mother received a beautiful message called “The Present”, in the form of a powerpoint email sent straight from Arthur’s email account. After Margaret’s mother received it, she subsequently sent it to the family, and “The Present” became an after-death communication for all involved, showing that Arthur is still alive and well in the afterlife. It had been around 3 months since Arthur’s passing when Margaret’s dream showed that Arthur had ICE by his side. Arthur is signaling that ICE, however helpless she was when she went into the pool that morning, is happy now and in great hands. This, at least, serves to relieve those in mourning of some pain.
The path of grief and mourning IS the process through which healing can occur. And it does happen, eventually. And when that happens, it gets easier to remember our beloved people and pets with a smile, instead of through the down pouring of our tears.
And there’s some more comfort to find in all this. In the story that Margaret so generously shares, we find that ICE has not only gone to exist with Margaret’s Father, but that a miracle took place that morning! A final puzzle piece came together when Margaret and Angela happend onto Roland, the hospice nurse who solved a mystery with an important message, saying that… the extra strength needed to pull ICE from the pool that morning, was the additional strength of Margaret’s Father!
We can find great comfort that our pets go on to exist on the “other side” of life. As energy can never die, neither can any of our loved ones.
And may our hearts be glad again… for we shall meet again.
In loving memory of ICE, who was and always will be a part of our family. We all love and miss you. Until then…