Sacred Sendoffs

As our animals age, we know the final goodbye creeps closer.  Working with rescued animals – and let’s be honest – any cause or profession that requires someone to prioritize their own needs last over those of other beings – takes an immense emotional toll and forces us to routinely reflect on our efforts, our insecurities, our hopes, our wins and losses, our joys and our grief. The end of this month marks the 1-year anniversary since we lost the unforgettable Lilah Moo, a disabled wonder cow who had personality as sweet as sugar. Her death still stings.

I lost my soul goat, my son, this past Monday. With cancer the likely culprit, Monster Truck (he was a big boy) took his last breath at 11:53am, May 20th, 2024.

Normally I spend my last moments with an animal absolutely beside myself, running all the shoulda, coulda, woulda scenarios, berating myself for not doing more. I bargain for a miracle through a swollen, red face and endless tears (and full transparency, snotting all over the place). But I didn’t really do this with Monster. Instead I sat next to him, leaned into his warm, goaty-smelling body, buried my face in his fur and retold all of the moments that made his life so incredibly special, fun and meaningful. I couldn’t be any luckier to have had him be a part of my life and I would have moved the heavens if it meant it would’ve given me even one more day with him.

I’ve struggled with grief for a really long time, so much so it overshadows the good moments in my life and feeds my anxiety to where I’m looking for sad bogeymen around every corner. My therapist recommended I read a book called Sacred Sendoffs: An Animal Chaplain’s Advice for Surviving Animal Loss, Making Life Meaningful, and Healing the Planet. Despite its very long title, the author left me with a short blessing, one that I could share with Monster Truck to give him a sacred sendoff. I miss him like you wouldn’t believe, but this gave me a sense of closure I’m not familiar with but desperately needed to avoid drowning in a sea of heartbreak. I think I will always wrestle with the grief that comes from losing special animals I’ve known longer than most people. But for now, like I imagine Monster doing, I’m just gonna Keep on Truckin’ ~Amber, Sanctuary Manager

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I would suggest reading Sacred Sendoffs for anyone coping with the loss of an animal. Or consider making a donation to Broken Shovels in Monster Truck’s memory.


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