Over the last four months, I’ve gone through an experience that many people have had—the slow decline of a feline animal companion with acute kidney disease. He made it known when it was time to help him leave his body, which fortunately was able to happen at home.
As the time progressed in this shared experience, I found myself delving more and more deeply into loving acceptance of what was happening, allowing grief to accompany love every step along the way. The challenge of this time was to constantly choose love and to be fully present to what unfolded day by day. Throughout this time, I was keenly aware of the countless other people who have been, or were, in exactly the same process I was, slowly shepherding a beloved animal companion from this life. I was also aware of how many of us have taken whatever action was required to meet the unfolding experience, even when those actions were completely outside of our previous experience—our willingness to do whatever was needed to offer comfort and support to our loved ones.
The practice this brought to mind is the presence and power of choice, moment to moment, day by day. The choice I came back to again and again was to meet this experience with my heart—to let love guide each action, and with a deep commitment to honor the needs and experience of my animal family member. I also made the choice to honor the grief I felt and to allow it to be present during those moments when there was nothing else to do but enfold my sweet feline in my arms and my love.
For this week’s practice, I invite you to be aware of how you move through powerful moments of adversity or challenge, whatever the cause, whatever the situation. What choices supported you and strengthened you in the presence of what unfolded? What actions were required of you that you may never have done before but that you were committed to engage? Reflecting on your experience, what choices would have helped had you been able to make them? There are no right or wrong answers here, no “shoulds”. Instead, this is an opportunity to feel into your experience and notice what helped you and what didn’t. I’ve come away from my experience much more aware of how our moment-to-moment choices have an even more powerful impact on quality of life than I had realized.
As with all these practices, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion and to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything with or about them right now. Also, please allow any mixed feelings that may arise, as they are part of your underlying wholeness and they have their place, as well.
Here’s the audio version of this practice if you’d rather listen to it.