It was a hard week with our precious 16 ½ year-old Crisco’s death. He was a huge chapter in our life, and so many memories and passages were marked with his presence. Now we honor him, and every day are reminded of his presence in a new and different way, with his absence. Even though he didn’t do much in his final few months, he was still a very large spirit in our home and the void we feel is still overwhelming.

He was the third furry-family member for us that died in a bit over 16 months’ time span. Our hearts are damaged, shattered, and broken. All of them were such huge parts of our world.

With each of them, I learned a lesson on “the end.” Each time I thought about what I would do different the next time, and I noted some things I would do the same. However, as much as I planned for those things, every time I still had things that just didn’t let “the end” happen in the way I structured it! Maybe that’s one of the lessons, too. We’re not in charge! Okay, God. I got it.

But here’s what I did learn with Crisco’s death:

  • He was ready to go, and in the past few months of his life he was only existing. And, THAT is not how he lived his life. So, letting him be free was THE right thing to do. For him.
  • While it seemed cold and calculated to plan for the appointment, planning around our travel and upcoming schedules, it was what it was. It HAD to be done that way or we were going to find ourselves at the mercy of letting anything and everything else control us, and this. That was more unacceptable than us planning and calculating his death.
  • We constantly asked ourselves throughout the day as to what we could be doing to make his final physical existence with us be memorable. I call this my “six-month rule.” What will I look back on six months from now and be thankful I did, or possibly regret? I covered all those bases in our thoughts throughout the day. A walk to the park, letting him feel the sun on his face, and spending time walking around the house telling stories… Beautiful time spent “just being” together.
  • We took time on his final day and found all those things he used to love to do… his favorite toys, bed, blanket. All the things that meant something to him, and to us. Years ago, I had hidden away a stuffed snowman, a silly little free Heartgard toy that he just loved! He loved the stuffing out of the one in the toy box, but I knew I would want to keep that for us. I knew one day, he’d need one for his final journey, so that stuffed snowman came out of hiding to serve its intended purpose.
  • He was comfortable in a fluffy blanket as we waited on Dr. Kim to make her way to the house. We told him we loved him, over and over again, repeatedly. We told him to find Ellie and Harry, and to go be with Grandma Sharlene.
  • Our ritual with our deceased animals is that they spend a day or two at our home, still with us in their physical being so we can prepare our hearts for the new normal, the days to follow where those beautiful bodies would be in our hearts only in spirit and memories. We put him comfortably in one of his beds, tucked in his blanket with all his favorite toys around him. His final night with us he slept in the bedroom with us, so it could, for one last time, feel like the “old normal.”
  • We gave the other animals their time with him, to confirm his death, and to pay their respects or sit their vigils in the way a pack member does for their own. Many times, we caught them, standing and sitting vigil, sniffing him, and just getting themselves ready for their new normal without this pack member being around. Even though none of these animals really truly liked each other, the one thing I love about animals is how they show respect!
  • We took the last morning with him at our home to share our final stories and spend a bit of quiet time over a cup of coffee to let him know how much we already missed him and would always love him. We eased our hearts into the morning for the finality of the reality.
  • We wanted to control every aspect of his final journey, so we took him to the pet funeral home, leaving nothing to chance in how he would be treated in the end. We never wanted to have the thought of “I wonder….”
  • And, then we gave ourselves permission to grieve, and to mourn. We let the tears fall, and we allowed ourselves time to laugh. We set up all his photos, more than normal, and we told him in his new plane of existence how much we loved him. We supported each other and encouraged the tears.

I don’t like death just like the next person. However, I wasn’t in charge of creating that rule! It is a part of life, and I will take these lessons into my own being, because of him and them. With that, I will be a better companion to those that need me when they are on this journey, and I will share my light with them.

All because of Crisco, Ellie and Harry.

RIP, My Loves. Mommy misses all of you so much.

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