A piece of my heart died today

Part of my heart broke today; it crumbled in to a thousand pieces as I farewelled someone else’s cherished pet. I loved him too, and I had only met him a few times. But in that time he had snuggled his way in to a part of my heart that belonged to him. And now he has gone.

He will always will be remembered with divine fondness.

You see, death is a part of my life.

Through my work as an end of life veterinarian, I am helping pets pass on a daily basis.

Through my social veterinary work supporting pets of the elderly, well my clients die also.

I am regularly asked, “How do you cope”? “I don’t know how you do it”.

Well, it goes like this.

I allow myself to feel all the feels.

So today I cried. Real, wet, authentic tears. On my way home in the car; and then when I was providing tender aftercare.  As I held his wrapped warm body in his fleecy blanket, I wept. I held him close. I thanked him for the gifts he brought his humans.

His humans cried too. They loved him so much. He loved them more. It was heart wrenching to say goodbye. But it was his time to go and there was a sense of peace in that moment.

I first met Charlie four months ago. His congestive heart failure was taking its toll and I did not think he would see Christmas. This little trooper soldiered on though, against the odds, with pure love in his eyes for his humans. He fought for them, no doubt about it.

I don’t fight it.

I don’t fight the emotions and the pain that invite themselves in when I help a pet pass. It’s not avoidable. It comes with this territory. I maintain a professional composure as best I can, but if the tears and sniffles switch on, I allow them a gentle passage, not dramatic, but subtly they can flow.

I cry.

Not great big loud dramatic sobs. At least not while I am with my people. I save the sobbing to a quiet moment when I am alone at home, reflecting on what has been. Then I really cry. I let it out.

I curse.

I get so mad that beautiful, cherished pets have to meet untimely deaths from illnesses and conditions that rob them of their health and vitality.

I curse some of the inbreeding issues we see.

I get really mad at God or the Universe or Spirit or Grandma that bad things happen to good pets and good people. It really really sucks.

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Then I breathe.

Because that always makes me feel better.

I allow the emotions and tears to come, and to go, and then I breathe.

This is the passage of life and all its rollercoaster phases.

I ground myself in my purpose.

Without my purpose, to support the human animal bond through all life stages, especially the end, I would not survive the toll that this work can take.

My purpose holds me.

To provide a service that allows pets to pass peacefully, pain free and in the loving comfort of their people’s embrace is my way of serving.

There is definitely a spiritual element in what I do, and never do I feel closer to Spirit than when I am helping a pet pass.

I pray.

I don’t attend church regularly, but I do believe in God/Spirit/Divinity and so I pray. I connect to the Divine. I question. I ask for guidance. I seek. I serve.

I give thanks.

Today I gave thanks for the gift of Charlie, who touched the lives of his humans and showed unconditional, pure love, and taught me about endurance, courage and grace.

I give thanks for pets, the bond and for people who cherish.

I give thanks for my gifts and purpose to serve in this space.

I find my strength.

It’s there. I find it. I tap in to it. I summons it.

I move on.

I pay tribute. I write. I light a candle. I honour what has been and embrace for what is still to come.

I reflect.

On my day. On its gifts and connections. On my lessons.

I feel all the feels.

And so it continues.

This cycle of life.

Of service, care, challenge and purpose.

This is my way of keeping on keeping on the very special work I do. In fact, I feel honoured, strengthened and privileged to serve in this space. It is what I was popped on this earth to do. I hold a place in my heart for each and every cherished pet who crosses my path.

With love, Lissi


Published by Social Hearted Vet

Community hearted veterinarian. Social Entrepreneur. Thought leader. Advancing Veterinary Social Work Advocate for the Human Animal Bond and One Welfare. Mother. Friend. Cares for our planet.