Pet Grief, or The One Kind Person on Reddit

During this time of social distancing, there are still many people who need compassion. It’s never going to be as good as a heartfelt, face-to-face encounter, but there are plenty of people online seeking help.

Here was an online conversation I had with a now-deleted OP who was mourning the loss of a pet. I thought it was advice well-suited to anyone going through this situation as well:

OP:

”One of our family dogs suddenly passed away on Tuesday. I am in my final month of college in another state so I did not get to say goodbye. I know it may sound silly to some of you since he was not a person, and since many people say that only humans can go to Heaven. My father is also struggling with grief back at home, but I will not see him again until Thanksgiving. I have been trying to turn to spirituality to deal with the negative feelings but I am not so sure what to do other than read some Bible verses etc. I have always struggled to believe that God is somewhere out there so I feel like I am just running in circles.”

MY RESPONSE:

“Someone I knew once put it best: ‘Losing a dog is sometimes harder than losing a person. Because a human being, no matter how close they were to you, had some bad things about them, some time they upset you, that kind of thing. So when the person is buried, you may miss them terribly, but there is always at least SOMETHING unpleasant or unhappy that gets buried with the person. But when a dog dies, it is only a loss, a 100% loss.’
Never be embarrassed to grieve a dying pet. People who would mock you for that are either bad people or people who were taught bad coping mechanisms for grief. Everyone grieves the passing of a pet.
Forgot to address the Heaven part. Now, there are, sadly, many churches that preach that pets can’t go to Heaven. But there is literally no Bible verse that says that, so with all due respect to many religious authority figures, and theologians, this is a dumb thing to preach. And I know it’s a part of a lot of dogma, but that doesn’t make it correct. —— What we do know is that God is CRAZY about animals, even more so than we are. In the book of Jonah, part of his stated reason for saving the city was for the sake of BOTH the people and the animals that lived there. He literally curses some people in the Old Testament and says it is because they enjoyed abusing cows for entertainment. Cruelty to animals just doesn’t stand with Him. So He will ABSOLUTELY understand the feeling of grieving a pet. And having lived as a human being for 33 or so years, and not having started his travels until he was about 30, it is extremely likely that He has, on a human level, gone through the experience of caring for an animal and watching it age and die. So you’ve got someone who just doesn’t strike me as the kind that would keep animals out of Heaven. Maybe there’s something we don’t know like there’s another location for the pets to go that we visit or something, I don’t know. But calling his kids home but making them leave their pets behind like some kind of awful FEMA bus? Doesn’t sound like the same God. I don’t see why He’d love a person enough to die for them but then insist on depriving them of something as simple and wholesome as a dog. If you need to be able to see your furchild on the other side, you’ll see them. He found a way for sinful humans to come to him, how much easier must it be to find a way to get something as selfless as a dog in the presence of God. Plus, in the Book of Revelations, John talks about seeing animals in Heaven. Which may just be a metaphor or something, but definitely means no one out there should be trying to preach a doctrine that animals can’t be in Heaven, if it says he saw them there.”
Stay clean, and God bless!

 

 

 

 

Dancing With My Enemies

I have no special gift for being able to forgive people. It usually takes me a long time, and I often don’t even realize I’ve been holding a grudge until I’ve been carrying it far too long.
One day, I felt like something had to change. I didn’t know what, or why, just something.

I navigated to peacewithgod.net and there requested an online prayer partner. For what turned into 3 straight hours of conversation, this blessed stranger talked me, free of charge, through just about everything that had ever happened to me, culminating in a charge to actually forgive. Truly, deeply, meaningfully, forgive those in my life. Take a notebook, write down all the hurts, go through each, forgive. That, he said, was what was missing.

So I took the charge, and really set time aside to forgive people I remembered. And it was so hard to start, I thought I’d never find the strength to do it. But my God did I feel good afterwards! At the very beginning. I cried and cried, but maybe an hour later, I was the happiest I’d felt in years. Just like a cartoon, it felt like all the little birds in the trees were singing, the grass was swaying — just pure levels of happiness like nothing else this world can give.

As I went through this process, God sent an image to my mind. How lovely it was, and how much it warmed my heart and set everything to healing! I saw Jesus standing with a person that had hurt me a great deal in my past. He was slow-dancing with her, arm around her waist, talking and laughing with her, touching her face. Very intimate moments. And He was soin love. I just stood there, watching how much joy it gave Him to be with this person, as if He had lost her for a very long time and finally had her back in His arms again.

I could not help but feel so happy for Him. It didn’t matter what she had done to me, it mattered that Jesus was with her now, and that He loved her, and His eyes were shining when He looked into hers. The joy welled up in my heart to see my savior so happy. Jealousy tried to tug at my heart, but I knew too well that no level of affection for one person can diminish the intensity of God’s love for any other. I would have the next dance for sure, and in a way, already had this one, too. Anger tried to tap at my shoulder but I just could not stop thinking, “I cannot hatesomething that makes Jesus this happy. If I really love someone, I’m going to try hard to appreciate the people they adore.”

I couldn’t help but feel like I saw something profoundly wrong being made right that day, and with it, a hope that all those prayers for forgiveness for my enemies really will be answered, and God will be able to have those people, cleaned and made good from their sins, just as He is able to have me, also cleaned and made good from all my many sins.

God bless, and have a good weekend.

Your Servant in Christ,

Morgan Grace Hart