This past weekend was one of the most difficult I’ve experienced in a long time. I had to say goodbye to someone I loved very, very much. This wasn’t a human being, but it was a family member. She was more like one of my children. She was also my co-worker and my therapist. She was an Angel … My Angel!
So, how do you say goodbye to an angel? Many people discount the loss of a pet as something not very serious, but my experiences both personal and with clients definitely argue otherwise. For many, pets can be even more difficult to lose than a person. We tell them our secrets. They comfort us through dark times. They don’t even care that we take all the covers or what we look like when we wake up in the morning.
Bria (short for Brianna) was one of my kitties, and she was actually my favorite. We found her crying on our side porch when I was pregnant with my son. My husband opened the side door, and she ran right in the house to me. She was a starving barely five week old baby! We gave her a little bowl of milk which she drank so quickly that she was biting her tongue and turning the milk pink. I tried to find out who she belonged to, but my vet told me that someone had dumped a bunch of kittens in the neighborhood and figured she was one of them. I couldn’t find her a home, and the animal shelter told me they would only keep her 48 hours before destroying her. Well, what do you think happened when a hormonal and overly protective pregnant mom was told that not personally keeping and protecting this little baby would most certainly result in her death? Of course I kept her! I had a tough pregnancy, and she was a handful, but I fell in love with her.
Bria had been sick for a couple of weeks. We tried several treatments, but her kidneys were failing. This past Thursday afternoon, the veterinarian found what had become a potato sized tumor where Bria’s kidney should have been. She had cancer and was dying a very painful death. The pain made her too nauseated to eat. She could barely move. We had to let her go. My husband and I stayed with her until the very end. We didn’t want her to feel abandoned even for one second and kept telling her how much we love her even when science said she couldn’t hear us anymore.
Yesterday, as I was going through the anger phase of grief, I realized I should maybe discuss with my readers a topic that has come up often in my sessions. The question, “Is it okay to be angry with God?”. It is perfectly okay and normal to be angry with God or the loved one who has passed on. Don’t feel guilty about it. God isn’t going to banish you from Heaven for being emotional about losing someone you love. You don’t need to hide those feelings either. If you think about it, Heaven already knows how you feel, so you might as well say it. I do, I did! It’s healthy to do so!
How dare you take her from me after all I’ve done to help and save all the strays that have come to my yard!
I was angry, and I’m not ashamed to say it. I felt the devastation of her loss. I felt helpless in protecting someone I was charged with protecting. I tried every healing method I could think of to ease the pain and begged God not to take her. I had every right to be angry. I cried, and I cried, and I cried some more. Honoring all the emotions that come with grief is the only way we can truly accept loss. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not over her loss yet, but Bria is helping me move closer and closer to acceptance.
If you’ve ever been to my home for an in-person session, chances are you had an orange tabby with a funky tail sitting in on your session. Charlie is my 11 year old boy that loves being part of my classes and readings. Bria, on the other hand, can never be found when people come for my services. You can always tell when an animal sees spirits. Let’s just say they freaked her out a little bit.
Bria knew that I could connect with the other side, but I didn’t expect her to try connecting with me because the idea scared her so badly. Saturday afternoon, my husband and I were getting ready to go out to dinner. I thought I saw Bria out of the corner of my eye but assumed it was another cat that looks similar to her. I looked over to find no one was there. I just took a deep breath and kept on about my business.
As we were backing out of the garage to leave I noticed something new about a sign that I’ve seen a million times. The previous owners had left a Briarwood Realty sign behind. Like I said, I’ve seen this sign several times. Never did the “Bria” of Briarwood Reality jump out at me. We said maybe she was trying to send us a message, but then again it could have been that we couldn’t stop thinking about her. A turn around any corner would remind us of her.
When we got to the restaurant, our 20 minute wait turned into a 50 minute wait. I was getting a little frustrated because I just wanted to relax. Several other groups were seated ahead of us. Since there were only two of us, it was obvious they were trying to seat us in a smaller booth which still wasn’t available. Admittedly, I was a little grouchy. When we were finally seated, our waitress came over to introduce herself … “Hello, my name is Bri. I’ll be taking care of you this evening.” My husband and I just stared at each other in shock! This was a hello that couldn’t be ignored. The poor waitress thought we didn’t like her name, so we had to explain. She felt bad, but then I explained that it was really a good thing.
Bria had a few names … Bria, Brianna, Bria Bri, Sponge Bob Bria Pants or just “Pants” . She was a very unique girl. After thinking more about the restaurant and the waitress, I realized that it was actually kind-of funny that I was a little irritated when this happened. Bria was known for making me feel better. Whether I was sad or angry or whatever, she would curl up into my lap and purr or actually cry back at me as if to ask, “Are you alright, mom?” She was my girl. When I would get migraines, I was sometimes able to dull the pain by meditating on the sound of her purring. I talked to her all the time. She loved to sit on my desk while I worked answering emails and phone calls. She would even share her lunch with me and sleep on my desk with her paw draped over my hand as I typed.
So, the question remains … “How do you say ‘goodbye’ to someone you love so much?” She was only six years old in human years; she should have stayed much longer. She was my angel, and I loved her dearly. It is so hard to say goodbye to that. In my anger with God, I asked how I am supposed to say goodbye to her. My guardian angels responded to my question in a very simple, humble, and loving response …
How do you say goodbye to an angel?
“You don’t say goodbye,” they said. They reminded me that my angel is not gone. Of course, I thought to argue the point, but they were right. With animals, they stay by our side as extra guardian angels. I couldn’t say that she hadn’t given me signs to prove that she’s still here. My anger started to dissipate into more tears as I remembered the truth. Bria is not gone. She will never be gone. I may not always see her, but she will always be by my side.
A couple of days ago, I had a dream about Bria. Her tail was dancing as she made her “bird talk” at me. It actually looked like she was scolding me, which also makes sense. 🙂
I will miss my Bria, but I will not say goodbye.
I know many of you have experienced similar losses, and I hope sharing my experience will help someone out there in dealing with their own loss.
Blessing, Love and Light,
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Thank you, Juanita, and to all those who sent me emails about this message. I’m glad to hear that it touched so many of you which again proves my point that losing a pet is a very real and very difficult experience.
Here are some of the email comments I received …
“WOW!! that message “how to say good-bye to angel” did help me very,very,very much!!! Thank-you for the beautiful message!! I have been struggling with this VERY same idea of how to say “good-bye” you just taught me that I don’t need to..that feels so much better now..sometimes you just have to look at things from a different perspective..and it changes everything!! Thank-you!! From,C…”
“You said it from the heart, dear! Thanks for sharing something so heartfelt. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who sees it this way. I lost my dog just before Christmas, and I am still heart-broken.” – R…
If you have something you would like to share by email or leaving a comment here, please feel free. Thank you.
How moving your story was!!! It brought tears to my eyes as I remembered Napoleon & BooBoo, my cats. That’s true–they are always with me!!! Napoleon was 14 years old when he died and 2 weeks later, God sent me an identical cat, just like Napoleon! How uncanny! God knew that I would probably grieve myself to death! BooBoo was about 5 years old when he died a year ago last October. I think about them all the time and I know that they are here with me–as long as I think about them–they are with me!
God bless you–I hope he gives you peace in knowing that Bri lived a wonderful life with you and your family–the BEST LIFE!