Whether your animal companion is aging or seriously ill, or has died or left your life another way, you probably have some pretty special memories of them.
Memories of times they made you smile, or even laugh. Special times you've shared.
As winter sets in here in the Northern Hemisphere, our natural internal rhythms can start to mellow and we can turn to inward reflection. Although many people rev up for wintertime celebrations, that may not serve us best when we are coping with a pet's terminal illness or grieving its death or loss.
In these cases, it can be very wise to take some time to look for those special memories, to help you get through the darkest and coldest time of the year. Because, if you stuff away your feelings, they may come out in unhealthy ways.
Choosing to spend some time with your memories can allow you to face them with intention instead of having them come at you unannounced.
Last month, I got a lot of joy from seeing my whippet run on a beach where my greyhounds had run in years past. That really helped me a few days ago, on the death anniversary of my first greyhound. And it will help me later this month when the second's Gotcha Day anniversary comes.
Thinking of their toothy grins as they ran full-out, feet digging into the sand to get up speed, spraying sand on turns, the pure joy they felt - those warm my heart. (The photo here is of my second greyhound running in the snow a few years ago.)
So, don't be afraid of remembering. As we learn to pay attention to the warm feelings of those memories, that joy can push aside our sadness, at least for a bit of time. And that, my dears, is healthy grieving.
Note: There's no timeline you must follow in your grief. If you're not ready for this yet, perhaps you can take comfort in knowing that it will come in time.