Ask a Horse: Death

Amber: Today’s topic came about after I witnessed a squirrel meet his demise in the back yard. He was a frequent and distinct guest, and it was difficult to watch the physical process of his death, even though I understand animals view the subject quite differently. I decided to ask Fiona about the matter.

Fiona: Death is a complicated subject for humans. You seem to get really stuck on it and chewed up about it. We don’t feel quite that same way. Oh, our bodies don’t want to die, most assuredly, and we rather love being here in the warm sunshine with green fields, but we view passing in an entirely different manner than you do. Death is not something we fear. Disconnection is what we fear. The closer we are to death, the more the humans around us get disconnected. You are masked in your grief and deflated by our misery, which changes the quality of your energy. Thus, it’s very hard for us to be around you in your grief. We can’t reach you for connection and support, because we reach only your pain which is not a match for our crossing. Thus, we lose your security during our most crucial journey, and it is more difficult for us to transition. Sometimes animals leave home to die because it’s easier than being with our loved ones who feel such pain by the crossing.

We understand your pain because of the beliefs you hold about death, but it is not the process of dying that brings us to grief, it is the disconnection from you and your love. In our final moments, we cherish that love, and search for it, and when we are met with your despair and heartbreak, we cannot give our final gifts to you. We can not share with you the joy we encountered in this lifetime, and the lessons we have learned. We feel removed, as your pain trumps this connection. Often, we linger past our own comfort in order to try to restore this connection, but eventually we succumb to the needs of our bodies whether or not we were able to join with you. Once we have made our transition, we are restored to full love and connection, and all pain is over, so we are once again our happy selves.

In order to help us and yourselves through this beautiful transition, we ask that you meet us in that place of love by holding in your heart all of the wonderful memories we shared together, and all of our favorite places and things, so that we can join you in imparting our joy of this world to all who blessed our lives. That is the greatest gift you can give to us, and to yourselves. There is no need to fear death, for it is as much a part of us as life. It is the release that sweetens the journey on this Earth, for it is a gracious return to the bosom of love that enfolds us all. That is how we animals see it, and for all our bodies’ needs and desires to survive, we cherish the thoughts of our own deaths – not fear them, as you do.

Amber: Often times our grief comes from missing the physical presence of our friends. Do you feel that same way?

Oh, yes. So sweet isn’t it, planet Earth? Where we can touch and nuzzle and eat and roll. We miss those experiences too, but we don’t hold them in anguish as you might. We miss them as you might “miss” your favorite food, by holding them in reverence and eager anticipation to taste it again. There is no loss in our missing of these things, only joy. We are all far more connected than you humans realize, for when we have transitioned, we feel your energy much more strongly and purely than when we were alive in physical bodies. We feel you all around us – the best of you, your love and pure essence – and we are much closer than when we were together on Earth. That is why we say there is no real death, no real separation, because as souls we have never been parted. We are always together, always in love. We cherish that connection where ever it takes place.

Amber: What of suffering in your physical bodies?

We dislike that as much as you do. However we don’t pity ourselves for the suffering, we see it as temporary and separate from us. It is not who we are. We don’t take it on and embrace it and wear it as a banner, as you might. We disconnect ourselves from the suffering to let it pass us by. Often, when an animal’s body is in the throes of death or deep pain, we diminish from our bodies. Our consciousness bears witness to the act without fully living it. We still feel the pain of course, and even the anguish from it, but we are separated to a great degree more than you. That’s not to say that animals can suffer pain more easily than humans; we are just not consumed by it the same way you are. This is a purposeful distance to help ease us in making our transitions, because life in the wild has less ease for suffering than your domesticated realms. However, the converse is that we animals tend to feel more suffering through the hands of humans than we would in the wild, so that diminishing or withdrawing has turned into a disservice. It no longer helps us only to transition, but instead separates us from our living here on Earth. Our transition to what you call death restores us to fullness and life. There is no small irony there.

Amber: How can we depart from grief and feel that joyful anticipation you described, so that we are not in so much devastation from your passing that we can’t share your final moments and gifts?

Ah, a worthy subject. We spoke earlier of cherishing those wonderful memories we had together. This is a lovely way to unite before our passing. Celebrate our lives, celebrate your own life. Celebrate what we had together. Join us in the moments of joy before we go, and after we have transitioned, celebrate what you look forward to with your next animal companion. We highly encourage you to do so. It is an honor to us that we have touched you with such joy and love that you would seek another animal friend, because you do us a great gift in this awareness of our relationship. Treasure that, and seek out your next adventure and joy. Surround yourself with those feelings of love in joy and all ways, and the passing will not be so difficult. Help us go by sharing your beauty of the love we will return to, so that we are welcomed home with grace. Allow yourself to feel our joy, our love, once we have crossed over, and celebrate the connection that is never broken. Then we are complete.

Amber: What about those of us who have had traumatic experiences around the death of an animal friend? Many of us are too grief stricken to reach joy in the passing.

Be gentle with yourself. Those animals who touch you so deeply offer a great gift. They understand your pain without judgement. They release you from your obligations – for there are none – and any sense of wrongdoing. When an animal comes in who has a particularly deep tie, they do so with the knowing that their crossing may not be easy. And they do so anyway, out of love, because they see it as a gift to witness your pain – and your heart. You do not harm them through your grief. They are not victimized by your pain. They are strong enough to maintain their own connection through the process, as are all animals. It is only our preference for you to join us in joy, that you celebrate our return to the great love of the infinite universe. If you do not celebrate for us in this life, we love you still as we celebrate together on the other side. It is only our hope for you that this transition is made with the togetherness of joy, for it’s far more glorious to share such an experience than be parted through it. You are always loved.

Have you ever wanted to ask a horse how they feel about a particular subject? Now’s your chance! Hear about horse-keeping and equestrian subjects straight from the horse’s mouth. These segments are conducted interview-style between Amber and equine advice extraordinaire Fiona, or a guest horse. Have a question or a topic you’d like to know about? Leave a comment here or on Facebook or Twitter with under #askahorse.

6 Replies to “Ask a Horse: Death”

  1. In 1983, I lost the animal I held most dear to my heart, Sita. She had hemangiosarcoma and was close to dying when I had her euthanized so she wouldn’t suffocate. As the vet inserted the needle for the procedure, Sita had a massive nasal hemorrhage. To my complete surprise, as my beautiful German Shepherd died, I received an incredible gift. I was completely filled with joy – her last and most amazing act of communication. It was visceral and overwhelming. Since that time, I have lost dear ones, human and animal, and never had such a vast sensation of joy as they have passed, but having experienced it once, I now know that this is the reality when leaving a suffering body.

    1. What a profound experience, Pam! Thank you for sharing. That’s such a spot-on description of what the animals send to me about their passing. It’s a wonderful comfort to contemplate for our own lives and inevitability of death.

  2. Thank you , I needed to read this right about now. I have been contemplating putting Mya down for fear of her suffering from DSLD, though she does not act like she is suffering. I know she is happy in her retirement pasture, but how long do I let her be in the fear that she may be hiding her suffering…
    I think you answered my questions

    1. Mya is so lucky to have someone tuned in to her needs. 🙂 I always feel like it’s better to euthanize while the horse is still enjoying life rather than a moment too late. We can always chat with her if you would like more input of course, but it sounds like you already know. <3

  3. I lost my big, beautiful horse, Jesse very suddenly in Feb 2007. He was fine the night before but when I went out to feed the next morning, he was down and couldn’t get up. I got the vet right away and we tried everything to save him but it was his time. She left saying she’d be back around 7:00 that night unless I called her sooner saying he’d gone into a coma.
    She told me to go out every 1/2 hour and rinse his mouth out with warm water and try to get him to drink. I did that for him. It was too bitter cold to stay out all the time with him and I’d spent hours with him already.
    When I went out around 4:00 that afternoon, I could see in his eyes that he’d had enough. He was tired. I told him that if his time had come, that was alright. He could go. I didn’t want him hanging on for me. Our bond was that strong. I loved that horse more than most humans.
    When the vet came back at 7:00, she asked if he was up. I said no. She asked what my decision was. I told her to put him down. I didn’t want him to suffer any more.
    She gave him the first shot to relax him. I had my head on his cheek when he took his last breath. As traumatic as it was for me, I was glad I was there for him at the end. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
    I still miss him as much today as the day he died. He sent a rescue pony into my life 6 days later after I’d sworn for 5 1/2 years that when he went – NO MORE. I couldn’t deal with the pain and expense any more. Patchy Pony was a rescue, who lived 15 months, but he died with dignity, knowing that he was loved and there are good people in this world.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Candie. Your courage to listen to Jesse and honor his spirit are beautiful manifestations of the partnership you shared. Sometimes when the grief still feels so near, even years later, our animal friends stay at an energetic distance so that we don’t feel distressed by our memories of them. As we continue to process and release, again and again, their presence returns to our hearts in the fullness of joy we shared. It is up to us to allow it in.


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