Circles and Cycles
Saturday, August 30, 2008 at 03:14AM
Medit8ng in Pets


“A lot of times we humans put the best cover up
in front of us. I mean we can look fantastic, we
can pretend that we feel great. But the reality is
animals know exactly how we feel inside.

And so we can’t ever, ever lie to an animal.”

~Cesar Milan

It’s been almost two months now since my pets have made the transition to the other side. While outwardly, getting back into the daily rhythms of life works to distract me from the grief of the loss, going inward I know that there is still much to process.

Without getting into all of the messy, snotty details of how I have been grieving, I will share that for me the process is no less painful when I lose a pet than it is when I’m faced with the death of a beloved friend or family member. When I work through something that is personal for me like grieving for a lost pet companion, I work through it on more than one level. I do get myself down and dirty with the personal details, but somehow, just beyond that, is usually a bigger picture that catches my attention, and pulls me out from under the potential weight of personalizing the situation, saving me from myself. That truly must be Divine intervention!

Like for instance, to me it seems as though in becoming a civilized nation, we have managed to make the process of living and dying a bit generic.

There has become a very unnatural tendency for us to avoid all of the many layers of mystical truths that can be found within the richness of the complete circle of life.
From birth to death, the circle is made complete when the two ends become one.
When we are in tune with the rhythm of creation,
with the essence that we come from and to which we return.
When we haven’t fully lived, or fully experienced death, we are breaking that circle.

Our culture today seems to have made the choice to shield us from the very natural face-to-face interaction with both birth and death. They have become overly sterile.

I recently read about a culture that upon the birth of a child, will place the placenta at the base of a tree. This symbolically anchors and roots the newborn child with Mother Earth. How very beautiful that is to me. While I have been present for many wondrous births, I have noticed that our hospital rooms with their sterile atmosphere have somehow managed to cut us off from the interconnectedness that we all share with the world around us, and certainly without meaning to, have replaced the sacred with rules and regulations –and medications (to avoid potential lawsuits, I’m sure).

When we begin living in the world from such a place of sterile detachment and separation, it is really no surprise that when it comes time to leave it –we again become shielded from the process. Emergency workers, hospitals, morgues, and morticians will all spend more time in the face-to-face interaction with our dying and deceased loved ones than we ourselves do. Some of us even prefer the closed casket where we completely preserve our memory of our beloved as they were while alive –choosing to disconnect from the process that death brings us face to face with.

We are more blessed (in an absurd sort of way) by the fact that our animal companions are considered ‘less evolved’ by our current culture, I’m guessing because most animals don’t have lawyers.

I was actually given four choices for the disposal of my pet’s remains. I could bury my pet in the yard, take it to a local shelter for them to dispose of or sell me the cremated ashes, or I could even use the local waste collection agency by bagging and throwing my pet away myself. As awful as those choices sound at any time, and especially during a time of intense feelings of loss, I have to admit that by having a choice I was able to further process the great depth of connectedness to the rhythm of the planet that we all share, human and animal alike. I came to see that the return to the earth through burial or by scattered ashes, and even in the landfill, can complete and close the circle.

I am also very grateful that I was able to embrace two of my pets for their final breath. While I felt their last gasp deep within my own core, and I felt like dying right along with them, I was able to exhale. In that instant where their breath ceased, and mine unwillingly continued, I knew that it was not I alone that truly did the breathing here. This body does breathe, but I can’t just think that I no longer wish it to do so and make it cease. There is a greater force at work here, calling the time. There is a cadence to that time.
A rhythm. A breath in. A breath out.

There are cycles that are ongoing. Cycles of birth and death within each moment, within each day, within each week, month, year, century, and millennium. Within each lifetime, family, and generation. Cycles of birth and death upon this planet, within this galaxy, universe, and beyond.

Had I chosen to preserve the memory of my pets as they were while alive and not spent the time with them facing the limitations of the physical form and the unlimited potential of the unseen, I would most certainly have missed this small glimpse into the very mystical magic that is life. And death.

With each breath in, I am reborn.
With each breath out, again I die.
How I live my life in that stillness between the two
is all that really matters.

Article originally appeared on BreathingInSpirit (
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