When we speak of "moving on" we visualize turning our back and walking away. But why would we want to walk away from a love, from a relationship that has been the very fabric our our lives for so many years? There is an inherent resistance to the concept of "moving on" which calls for a paradigm shift. This shift in paradigm begins with thinking of your healing process in terms of reconciliation and bringing your love and relationship with you as you continue on in your life. This requires a delicate balance between engaging in a new life and way of being while at the same time continuing to honor your pet and all that he/she brought to your life. This is not about "letting go" but about bringing the symbolic representation of them with you into the future. In my Four Stage Model of Pet Bereavement the final and on-going stage is referred to as "Reconciliation and Transcendence" which discusses the concepts of adaptation, adjustment, acceptance and re-engagement. However, the state of Reconciliation is not just the capacity to adjust, adapt, accept and re-engage in life without our companion animals by our side but also refers to our internalization and embodiment of the sacredness that they symbolized in their life and through their death. Our adaptation includes finding ways to actualize and give expression to the goodness that our beloved brought to our lives and the qualities we most admired about them. This is a way for us to create a living memory whereby our companion animals continue to live on through us - through our thoughts, intentions and actions. Transcendence in suffering companion animal loss is, in part, about being a reflection of the sacredness they brought to our lives and creating something bigger than the pain of suffering.
Consider creating a list of all the attributes you most admire about your beloved and think of ways that YOU can continue to bring those virtues forth into the world. By doing so you create a "living memory" and your beloved continues on through your efforts. Remember, "moving on" is not about "leaving behind" or "letting go". It's about continuing to honor your relationship in a way that recognizes all they brought to your life and the world. What better way to do that then become the things you most admire about them!
December 19, 2018
Transcendence in Suffering: A Brief Personal Reflection