A Double Whammy: Grief and Regret

Do you have regrets? Do you revisit them ? Does your regret shadow a loss? Intensify your grief? You are not alone, and perhaps  it might help to consider this together.

Most of us try our best to live lives that are full, worthwhile and without regret – or at least free of major regrets. That’s a tall order, for we are only human. Being human asks a lot of us, body, mind, and spirit. And when it comes to relationships, we do our best, most of the time, and try to make amends when we fail. We do our darnedest to learn from our mistakes.

In our human relationships, the person we’re reaching out to, working with, being with, has their own ideas, thoughts, feelings and baggage – things we’re not in control of and about which even they may barely be aware. It’s complicated, as the movie line goes!

With our animal companions, it’s a little different. Living with them, being with them, meeting their needs, we come to read their body language – and sometimes their vocalizations – pretty well. I remember being delighted to realize that my beloved guinea pig, Cheyenne, had such a variety calls: one for greeting me, another for being hungry, and a blissful purr when I rubbed him behind his pink, translucent ears.

If he had baggage, he’d gotten over it as far as I could tell. And that’s how it is with animal companions – most live more in the moment; they’re less complicated. And that’s how loving them is, too. They forget and forgive so easily!

When we love our animal companions, when we have tried to give them the best life we can, the best love we can, and the least painful and most merciful passing from life we can –  imperfect as our best efforts might sometimes be, we can open ourselves to the possibility of grace. We cannap-time-tabby-cat-23441279627174CGTm release ourselves from regret. Grief is hard enough to bear without adding anything that heavy to our load.

If you’re carrying regret, I urge you to pick up three stones – one for life, one for love, and one for life’s end. Find a natural place – the corner of a park, a creekside, or the base of a tree. Offer each stone back to the earth, saying to yourself as you do so, “I did my best to love/to give a good life/to release you at life’s end.” Go in peace, carrying your love forward.