Grieving the Loss of a Pet

JUNE 21, 2022  /  KELLI NAPOTNIK  / 

Grieving the Loss of a Pet
Over the course of my life, I have had to say goodbye to several pets. The hardest by far was this past Wednesday when I had to say goodbye to my mare I owned for 21 years, Coyote. She was such a gift. I am so thankful for the amount of time I had with her, yet saying goodbye is never easy.
The grief from losing a beloved pet can be immense. To me, it felt as if I had lost a dear friend. Ultimately, we know we made the right decision for her care, but my heart still feels the pangs of loss. My heart is still grieving. I want to share this with you because I don't think it is something we often talk about, the pain from losing a pet.
The pain felt from the loss of a pet echoes the joy that was given.
As all young girls do, I yearned to have horses. I loved everything about them. I craved the adventure of riding and exploring. The greatest gift came in 2001, when my neighbor invited me to ride one of her horses in a 50-mile endurance race. I was 15 at the time. After that race, my neighbor offered to give us the horse I rode, Coyote. She has been with me since that time and we have had many long rides together. Some of my happiest memories from childhood are laced with memories of her. I think that is why the grief is so hard. I not only said goodbye to my sweet animal, but also realized my memories of her were going to be all I had left and that phase of life was coming to an end.
With the loss of a pet, our grief can be a quieter one. I stumbled upon this quote and it poignantly exposes the beauty in grief.
"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, a deep contrition, and of unspeakable love." - Washington Irving
I am thankful for the gift of forming a bond with an animal. There is truly something unique and beautiful when we experience such a bond. I am thankful for the time I had with her. I am thankful for the opportunity of sharing adventure in my teenage years with her and even more so that all five of my children got to sit on her, groom her and love her. I never once imagined when I was 15 years old I would be given such a gift. In the wake of my grief is the beautiful revelation that a great love filled that space. Despite the loss, I am choosing to focus on the blessing of the love that was there.
Irving so poignantly stated that grief is sacred and evidence of love. If you have lost a pet and are grieving, my heart is with you. If you know someone who has lost a beloved pet, comfort them as you would comfort anyone who has experienced loss in some way. Maybe meals aren't needed (they are still welcome), but certainly a hug or a card saying you are thinking about them can be a sweet gesture. The older I get, the more I realize we need to talk about our grief no matter where it comes from. Thank you for allowing me to express my grief with you here.

Grieving the Loss of a Pet

My daughter, walking Coyote in the riding ring last summer.

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Adina & Maureen
Adina & Maureen

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