What happens when your pet enters their end of life transition? What is going on in the moment your pet dies? Is your pet uncomfortable or in pain? Are they aware that they are dying? Are they scared? Are there stages of death that pets go through? Animal communicator Shannon Cutts talks you through what the animals have shared with her about what death feels like to them.
“My dog died last year.” This from an acquaintance I met at a gathering last month. “I’m so sorry for your loss.” These, the automatic words that popped out of my mouth before I had time to consider them.
It is all part of the process of what my mentor Don Miguel Ruiz calls “domestication.” The flow chart of polite society – if the other person says this, you say that. If the other person does this, you do that. And so on.
Until it becomes so automatic we no longer pause to question whether the words we use are helpful, neutral or perhaps even harmful.
Death is an especially touchy topic, which is why I attend a monthly Death Cafe. Death Cafe, if you are not familiar, is a gathering of people who want to be able to say the word “death” without their conversational partner suddenly discovering they have someplace else they urgently need to be. The cool thing about Death Cafe is how the people I’ve met are so vibrantly committed to life. The other cool thing is how Death Cafe is a place where pet death is discussed nearly as frequently as people death.
We need this. We need to be able to acknowledge what we have experienced in the past, what is unfolding in our lives now and what is yet up ahead. We need a safe space to ask questions, share stories, take in encouragement and practice empathic deep listening.
For many of us, pet death is one of the first experiences we have with death. In most cases (some long-lived reptiles excepting), our pets die before we die. So we know it is coming, right? That is the thing – the really BRAVE elephant in the room most of us simply fail to even notice. We are brave enough to say YES to loving our pet EVEN THOUGH we know that pet will most likely die before we will.
And I truly believe this is why we struggle so much when that actual moment arrives. Because we have had little to no conversation, education, information or planning in the interim to put some structure to our brave.
What I mean is, when the death process begins for your companion animal, it feels so unfamiliar and you are so mired in the moment-to-moment decisions required to navigate that process with them, you have no time to ponder the meaning of death. The transition process itself. The separation of spirit, soul, from physical body.
The option to reconnect, approximately one instant after the soul has traveled to the place across the veil where the physical body can never go.
So let’s talk about it now. Here. Allow me to share what the animals have shared with me about what happens when they die….and what they very much are hoping can happen after their death is accomplished.
1. Your pet is not death. Your pet’s BODY is dead.
This is an awkward and, in some circles, religiously unpopular, statement to make. And if it contradicts or conflicts with your personal faith beliefs, I understand. The thing with animals is, they aren’t interested in beliefs about what does or does not happen after they die. Why? Because animals have not been exposed to terrifying messages from religious leaders who tell them what to believe about what happens after death.
When an animal dies, they tell me, they do not die. Their body dies. Whether that death is natural or assisted, the reality is their body is no longer a safe, comfortable or reliable dwelling place for them. So they transit out of that body and back across what we humans like to call the veil. Or the Rainbow Bridge if you prefer.
Then they are in their light body only. This means they are using their subtle senses instead of their physical senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching – to connect with other beings, both embodied and in light form. They are using the same senses I use to talk to animals – the senses that make animal communication possible.
2. The death transition takes just a split second.
In some cases, the body will shut down lightning-fast from the inside out, such as from a pet seizure or heart attack. But in many cases, the nature of many modern pet diseases and illnesses causes the body to shut down from the outside in, such as autoimmune dysfunction or neurological malfunction.
And so the pet’s end of life transition, the stages of death your pet passes through, can take some time. The progressive slowdown of the physical processes, the ceasing of normally favorite activities like eating and drinking, playing, even responding to their name, weight loss, lethargy – these are stages your veterinarian can help you identify and become familiar with.
You will do your pet a tremendous favor by becoming familiar with what is going on for them physically so you respond appropriately to keep the comfortable and allow the body to shut down in the gentle way nature has designed.
This will also make sure nothing on a physical level is interfering with the experiences your pet is having as their spirit body pops back and forth across the veil, not unlike how you might observe flocks of birds “practicing” before their fall migration. It is a beautiful time when your pet is reconnecting with loves across the veil, remembering the lightness of the spirit world, enjoying respite from physical discomforts, resting and preparing to depart.
And when that moment comes (whether it comes in an instant due to an accident or internal shutdown or it occurs gradually through the stages of physical death) it is quite simply instantaneous.
Like a blip in your cell phone signal or a blink of your eyes. That is how fast the soul pops out and across to the other side.
3. Your reconnection with your pet can happen just as quickly.
I have lost count of the number of emails I have received from grieving pet parents, all wanting to know the same thing.
Do I have to wait 3 weeks, or 30 days, or 3 months, or longer, before I can talk to my pet on the other side?
No. You don’t. You do not have to wait.
I am not here to discount or discredit other animal communicators who say you do have to wait. I am only sharing what the animals have told me, which is that you do not have to wait. And I always check in with each animal regardless, just to be sure they are ready to talk and reconnect. But I do that before every animal communication session anyway – even if the animal is still embodied.
In my experience, your pet does not need time to “adjust” or “settle in” to life across the veil before they are ready, willing and able to communicate with you and reconnect.
Why is this? The animals have told me it has to do with the nature and depth of the soul to soul connection. Souls are never disconnected. We are never “offline” at the spirit level. So while there is a blip of sorts in the energy field while that individual soul is passing out of their temporary physical body, it passes very quickly and the reconnection to the whole spirit field of energy occurs with zero effort on their part.
I am able to help you reconnect with your pet even an instant after they pass. I can also help you remain connected to your pet throughout the process of them passing – while they are still embodied, through the blip, and after they have crossed to the spirit side.
4. Your pet is not in terrible distress as they are dying.
I had the great privilege to shepherd my father through his end of life transition. As a Reiki practitioner, I was able to let the high vibration Reiki energy guide me through a process I’ve never navigated before that was both more violent and more gentle than I could possibly have anticipated.
The violence arose wholly from human interference. Refusing to face the reality of what was unfolding. Giving him comfort where what was offered was neither needed nor comfortable or comforting. Coping with terrible side effects from medication that was too strong, not strong enough or contra-indicated due to other medications also being given. Managing the sometime-tsunamis of emotions going on in the people around my dad (including, at times, me and my mom).
The gentleness arose when we were able to honor the reality and natural rhythm of Dad’s personal transition process. To witness and accept how Dad’s focus and reality shifted away from us and towards the loves he was seeing and reconnecting with on the other side. To honor his wishes – to leave the hospital, to leave rehab, to come home to die.
The same exact process unfolded with my mom’s soul dog, J.P. Morgan. Quite similar violence and gentleness arose at varying phases of his end of life transition. And in many ways, J.P.’s death process was kinder and more empathic because we were able to assist through euthanasia. That aside, witnessing his acceptance of what was occurring on the level of his physical body gave us the courage to seek beyond his body to reconnect after it gave out for good.
If your pet’s end of life transition is a slow one, chances are good your pet is not going to be one hundred percent comfortable during the process. There can be some dis-ease, some sensory disruption, during the inevitable slowdown and shutdown. And some of that will cause the soul to pop out of the body for a time, reconvene with old friends on the other side, exit away for some relief from the discomfort, and return again to resume.
Your role will always be to seek to align yourself with the natural rhythm of physical decline – think hospice rather than extraordinary measures and you can maximize your pet’s comfort and ease as they transition.
5. Your pet WANTS to reconnect with you!
Once your pet blips out of their body for good and resumes living in their spirit body, they want nothing more than to reconnect with you.
Often, I find pets tap, tap, tapping their impatient little toes (or claws or paws or wings or hoofs), just waiting for their humans to open up that channel to them.
It is like when you hear a telephone ringing in the distance and it just keeps ringing and ringing. Your pet is calling and wondering why you can’t hear the ring and why you don’t go run and pick up the phone.
A huge aspect of creating close bonds across species boundaries is precisely to transmit this awareness. Because life expectancies are so varied, we have to face death and loss and grief sometimes many times before we get to our own.
This big brain of ours get SO attached to the pet’s physical body and when it is gone, the brain’s proof there was ever a relationship at all is gone with it.
So we have to stop looking for our pet with our brain. We have to look with our heart. With our subtle eyes, ears, senses. With the gut intuition we were born with but have never set about to consciously refine or tap into.
Animal communication can be a pathway to remember that we, too, are an embodied spirit. Our body is the place our soul lives while we are in this physical plane. But it has a shelf life – a life expectancy – a useful life – and it is not going to last forever even if we take pristine care of it.
Sure, there is always the option to sink into sadness and heartbreak and stay there until the day we die. But why? Every act of courage, of reconnection, we make now will also ease our own transition when the time comes.
There are lots of ways pets try to reconnect with their people, and every one of them involves learning at least the rudimentary basics of how interspecies communication takes place. I can help you learn.
And I can help you reconnect.