Ode to Sabby: The Serenity Prayer

February 17th, 2011

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer is my daily mantra.  Yesterday was no exception.

My beloved friend and companion, Sabby, was put to sleep last night.  It was an act of mercy on my part – for all concerned – as he became lame and his illness was taking its toll on his quality of life.  The angelic vet assistant who accompanied me along the way said to me:  “Char, you did well by him, and you are helping him in a way that we humans aren’t allowed to do for each other.  He is truly blessed to have you as his owner.”

One of the privileges and responsibilities of pet ownership is to enjoy them while they are with us and to care for them lovingly which includes “in sickness and in health.” I find veterinarians, as a group, to be some of the most compassionate, caring professionals who are truly able to keep the best interest of their patients in mind.  I was also blessed to have a team of veterinarians who worked tirelessly to find the right medications to keep Sabby comfortable.

I take great comfort in knowing that I did the best I could for Sabby.  I accepted that I couldn’t change his fate and I found the courage to find the right vets for him.

This is not the first time I’ve lost an animal.  In the past, losing an animal has been extremely traumatic for me.  This time was different though and though it was still hard, it didn’t have that same sting of trauma.

My intent in sharing this story is for you, dear reader, to think of what’s going on (or has happened already) in your own life that has been challenging to deal with. Perhaps you’re on the verge of losing a beloved friend, family member or animal.  Or maybe that has just happened.   Perhaps, there’s something in your personal or professional life that is changing or has changed unexpectedly that comes to mind.

I invite you to pause for a moment and see what comes to mind. If you want, as I share how this time was different for me, see if  what follows helps you make a teeny tiny shift and softens the impact of change.

What is going on in your life that you cannot change?  And, are there things that you could change to make this situation easier?

The power of asking questions of ourseves  is sometimes not in the answer itself but instead in just opening up the space to consider the question.  As with anything, there is no one right way to do this.  I recognize we are all different so what works for me may not work for you.

Consider my questions (which follow my own personal insights) as invitations to  think about whatever you’re dealing with right now.

  • I asked in prayer for a sign of when Sabby needed to be put down.  Shortly thereafter, he became clearly lame in 3 feet, stopped eating and drinking.  There was no mistaking that the end was near and he was suffering.

Consider this :  Is there something that you’re concerned about?  Would you like to ask for a sign about what to do or consider next?  What would that look like?

  • I told people I trust what was going on as it was happening, which helped me have the courage to do what was needed and feel less alone.

Wondering:  Is there someone you could talk to ( by email, by phone or in person )who could help you feel less alone?

  • I spent some quality time with Sabby listening to my favorite music with a candle burning and got him to purr.  I will always feel connected to him.

Think:  Is there a way to honor or acknowledge what you’re going through right now?  Yes, it’s important and No, it won’t take as long or be as hard as you think.

  • I attended to all the practical details ahead of time which included telling the vet how to handle the bill, how I wanted to leave after it was over, and that I would be leaving the cat carrier and blanket with them so I didn’t have to walk out with an empty carrier.  This was an act of mercy for myself.

Question:  Are there some details that you could attend to ahead of time to make things easier for you in the long run?

  • I had a plan for coming home which included taking my dogs for a walk,  making a healthy dinner, and calling my kids who have been so supportive through this.  I followed through with my plan even though I felt like curling up in a ball.  It helped.

Hmmmm:  Would it be helpful to think of what to do later so you wouldn’t have to think about it in the moment?

What I’ve learned over and over again is that having words to describe my feelings, asking trustworthy people for support, attending to practical details, and having a plan have all been major building blocks that help me feel more peaceful about difficult situations. My hope for you is that this blog  helps you find greater peace and self kindness as well.  I’d love to hear how this lands for you.

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