Love transcends the boundaries of time and death, reminding us that our pets’ spirits continue to shine brightly, guiding us with unwavering devotion. In this episode, Maribeth Decker, MS, MGA, the author of Peace in Passing: Comfort for Loving Humans During Animal Transitions, discusses the profound subject of pet loss and its impact on our lives. Discover the myths surrounding animal transitions, including the misconception that death ends the relationship. Maribeth’s experiences shed light on the idea that our pets’ personalities and love continue even after they’ve crossed the rainbow bridge. She explores the concept of saying goodbye to your beloved pet, navigating pet loss, and choosing your next companion. Maribeth offers an intimate and soul-nourishing exploration of the profound bonds we share with our animal companions and how we can find light and healing even in the shadow of loss. Join us on this transformative journey of love, loss, and enduring connection in the world of pet companionship.
Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.
I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.
Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide
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Honoring Our Furry Friends: A Guide To Coping With Pet Loss With Maribeth Decker, MS, MGA
Our guest is Ms. Maribeth Decker. Maribeth Decker is the Founder of SacredGrove.com, where people and pets heal and connect. She works with animal guardians who dearly love their animals and yet are facing tough animal issues. She uses her intuitive animal communication, medical institution, and energetic healing skills to address animals’ physical, emotional, and behavioral issues. Maribeth’s mission is to bring a greater depth of love, compassion, and comfort into the human-animal relationship.
Her rich personal life experiences have enabled her to bring a wealth of heart-centered wisdom to her work with each client. Her unyielding intention is consistently bringing forth the maximum benefit for all connected in the most benevolent manner possible. Maribeth lives near the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband, Charlie, dog Stella, Tibor, and cats Mac, Bunny, and Shadow. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Let’s get into the conversation now.
Maribeth, welcome to the show.
I never left, so yes. I’m glad to be talking about it.
You make a good point. Tell us how you never left. What does that mean?
As we were talking about prior, we remembered my first husband’s 25th death anniversary, his passing. The emotions that came up were surprising to me. I thought, “25 years, come on.” It’s still there. There are still times when I feel sadness and I feel like, I’m not sure what the words are, but incompletions with us. That’s where I think that the relationship, however, you call it, lives on in a different way after they have left. There’s still stuff going on. Either it’s within you or maybe within them or both of you. It depends.
Thank you for mentioning that, because it’s comforting for someone who has lost a spouse 25 years ago and to hear them say it still impacts you now.
It does. I looked at my kids and they said they almost didn’t remember their dad. That’s hard to say. They are not being mean. They were 8 and 10 and it was a very tough experience. Thinking about what they also lost when he passed. You can’t make it pretty. You can’t make it like, “It was all for the greater good.” Maybe it was, but we still lived through it.
What was your late husband’s name?
How did you and Winston meet?
We met in the Navy.
You were in the Navy?
Thank you for your service.
Thank us both, right?
Thank you both for your service.
I met him in a school in Memphis, Tennessee and I wasn’t sure, like, “Who is a smart aleck?” We got stationed together in Japan and that’s where the romance started.
How long did you guys date before you got married?
Probably a couple of years, I think. It has been a while.
It seems like a lifetime ago. Thinking about being in the military, a previous marriage, but it’s interesting when you are there, it seems bigger than everything. As life continues to live on, those things, like, “I did all of that.”
While we were in Japan, we figured out we wanted to do more and decided we would get married. I brought him back to Buffalo, New York, and January of 1981. Buffalo, this snow city. I’m sure he was like, “I must love her because what the heck are we doing?”
Where was Winston from?
He’s an American citizen. His mom was a Japanese citizen. His dad was a US and he grew up South of Tokyo. He spent time in the US so he could keep his US citizenship. When he was in Southern California, keeping his US citizenship, that’s when he joined the Navy.
California, so that was warm.
Tokyo has cold weather too.
It does too but it’s more like here in Virginia, where the winters aren’t 6 feet of snow.
The whole state would be set down. I’m in Virginia, too. That would not work at all. We don’t have the infrastructure in Virginia to support that level of snow, so it would probably be a state of emergency.
In Buffalo, it’s like, “Okay, get the tractors out, push all the stuff into the stadiums and kids get to school.”
I grew up in Chicago, so I can relate to that. It was like, “Why are you not going to school?” “It’s because it got snowed,” I remember one time, my siblings and I were pushing the screen door open because we had to get out to shovel the snow before we could go someplace, but you first had to get the door open. I can relate to that. I was stationed in Korea for eighteen months, which was another immense amount of snow, and still had to function like it didn’t matter if the snow existed or not. I can relate to that. How long did you stay in the Navy?
Seventeen years. I got an early retirement when the drawdown in the military happened after the Berlin Wall went down. He got out earlier. When we were in Japan, he went to the Officer’s Wives Club and they got a little-brained piece for him and the president of the Wives Club crossed it over and he called it the Officer’s Spouse’s Club. He was the first male participant and the Officer’s Wives Club.
What rank were you in the military?
I retired as a Lieutenant Commander.
For someone who has no clue about the military, can you give a little bit of explanation about what it means to have been a Lieutenant Commander and being a female at that time?
It’s a mid-grade officer. At that time, we were still weird females in the military. I bet you are smiling. When we went to Officer Candidate School, they put the women all in Fox Trot and Echo. The guys were other ones. They hadn’t integrated us yet.
When you say Fox Trot and Echo, I want to break that down a little bit. For people that don’t know. Those are the different companies or the groups that you are in. You are saying that they were not integrated, so the women were separated from the men and those alphabets represent the different schoolhouses or housing locations that they were in.
Yeah. We had that and then it was a time before it was legal for women to go on ships because that wasn’t our role. It was a different time. We were shore duty sailors, so to speak, for a while there.
What was your role or job?
I had some cool things. I got to work in the communications station when I was in Puerto Rico and then did human resources, which is different in the Navy. It’s different in the Navy than it is in the civilian world. We were doing things like, in that day, in the early 1980s, talking about race relations, alcohol abuse, getting people out into the economy in Japan, and how to get along with people from Japan instead of being the stupid Americans. You are smiling and laughing.
No. I smile because, unfortunately, a lot of people don’t ever leave outside of the United States. I do find that people who have a military connection have a broader travel experience. That gives you some education on trying to understand the local community and how to relate to them instead of expecting everybody to assimilate into what America is. You are in their home country. The respect is owed to us to learn about them.
We live in a melting pot, so you learn what you learn when you are here, but there’s so much to be said. My sister’s a retired senior chief and we often talk about when we have traveled abroad, how respectful and helpful people are when they see you have at least tried to learn their language or try to understand their customs and be respectful than charging in as a brood and expecting everybody to assimilate. Those were the things that I was small enough from my own experience and people I know.
I’m thankful because I think my growing up experience, was a very narrow experience after having been to a few different places. I feel like I was a better human being to understand different cultures, different religions, and different words that are used to explain things you never even thought about explaining.You can feel like a better human being when you understand different cultures, different religions, and different words that are used to explain things you've never even thought about explaining. Click To Tweet
How many years were you and Winston married?
I think it was 13 or 14 years.
Do you mind speaking about how he died or transitioned from this world?
I can do that. It was a Tuesday morning. The kids were in grade school at that point. I believe I heard in my head him call me. I don’t believe that it was a voice. He was downstairs, probably making coffee. I ran downstairs and found him face down between the kitchen and the dining room. He looked like he was having trouble breathing. My son, who was ten, came down. He passed away from a heart attack. They did try to resuscitate him, but he didn’t recover.
I’m so sorry.
It was hard.
It’s something we learned to talk about, but as you spoke about when we started, 25 years later, it still impacts you.
The kindest thing I heard that helped me so much was a doctor was there who had done the autopsy and he said, “I am a doctor that works with hearts. I could have been right there on the scene and I could not have saved him.” Patrick’s my son. Patrick and I thought maybe we had done something wrong, that he had choked to death or something like that. We thought he was choking and we didn’t do the right thing. The doctor was kind enough to say, “No, that’s the way it was going to happen.”
Thank you for mentioning that because so many people struggle with guilt. To have a physician or cardiologist, if I think I understand you correctly, say that was Winston’s time to leave and there was nothing you could have done. You couldn’t have been downstairs early. You couldn’t have been in his space. It gives you some mental understanding as the emotional part is going on and eliminates that guilt. When it tries to creep up, you can instantly hold that up and say, “No, that is not the case. This was their time.”
It was wonderfully comforting for me through all the years.
I can only imagine. You said you had one son. Any other children?
My daughter Andrea. She’s two years younger, so she was eight years old.
Your children were very young when their dad died?
Yes. I say this lovingly, but I remember after he passed, somewhere along the way, I was yelling at him saying, “I did not sign up to be a single parent. You better keep an eye on these kids. You are not done parenting, my man.” I believe he did. I know he did. He kept an eye on both of them.
I can relate to that. My children were adults when my husband died, but there was still parenting to be done. There’s always parenting forever. I remember thinking, “Mark got out of all of this.” They are older. Each season of parenting has something different. I never thought that I was going to be the best parent when they were older. I thought I was planning to lean into my husband because I had done a lot of the heavy lifting and staying home when they were smaller.
I have talked to other widows and widowers who have talked about that. Thank you for being candid, because part of this conversation, that real talk, some people will never, like, “I have thought that in my head, but they said it out loud.” You let them know you are not alone in that type of thought.
Thanks. I find it funny that we would do that, but that’s the real me.
Being a parent, a widow, of younger children, any suggestions, advice, or thoughts that come to mind?Parent from your heart. Make the decisions for the kids that your heart tells you are the best. Click To Tweet
I would say, could you take yourself off the hook right now about being a perfect parent, because we are all going to mess up whether there were two parents there or not. That’s the truth. Also, use your heart as you make important decisions about your kids. There’s so much overwhelming like, “Do I let them do this? Do they need some help in this area? How can I best support them? I can’t do it anymore. We are going to take a break here.”
I do believe I came out the other side knowing that I made decisions out of love for what I thought was the best reason for my kids, what I thought was the best, based on my heart. Not what society was telling me to do, not what some pressure was for them to be this person or that person, but what my heart said that they needed. I don’t think I got it right all the time, but I’m okay with it because it was my heart that led me rather than maybe letting other things make decisions or people make decisions for me.
I don’t know anybody that’s gotten it all right. If you do, then please email me and let me know so I can use that pattern. We are all learning. It’s the hindsight, the choices you could make if you are looking back on what you did. When you are in that moment and going through it, you are trying to make the best choice you can make.
It is so overwhelming as you are dealing with the fog of grief and the children that need you right here and now. I have spoken to many widows with younger children trying to find that space to deal with the grief of their spouse and still try to show up. It is quite the experience to juggle. Have you found community over the years, other widows or widowers that you have connected with, or therapists? How did that work for you?
I have loved therapy, to tell you the truth. It’s been helpful for me, to unpack the next big piece and the next big piece. That’s been my go-to. I’m an introvert, so therapy felt very safe for me. That’s the truth. That’s been helpful. I have used it and continue to use having a mentor or having somebody to talk to and unpack it. I know that’s been my godsend.
I know we are talking about your book Peace in Passing. Has that been therapeutic as you wrote this book, also?
Yeah. For the fact that you are talking about animals who are passing. It helped me. When I write things down, and I love to write, it clarifies everything that I have experienced. I helped somebody and their cat get ready for a transition, say what they needed to say, and find out if the cats had it. It was helpful when you went through all that and did a lot of your own and then you wrote about other people’s animals’ experiences. What it solidified for me is love is eternal and it doesn’t stop when the body dies. I put my favorite quote at the beginning.
Is that the Winnie the Pooh?
I thought that was so cute. I read that 2 or 3 times and I was like, “How lucky I am to have (someone) who makes saying goodbye so hard. Winnie the Pooh.” I was like, “That was cute.” We are extremely fortunate. When you mentioned therapeutic, I couldn’t help but think of the book. I want to ask a few more questions about you. I’m not ready to get into that yet. What was the transition from this young mother to getting married again? What did that look like for you?
I did not have happy children about remarrying. Although my daughter was one of my bridesmaids, it was a very hard transition for them. I’m going to say, honestly, that I think that having a spouse, he was the right guy to help me stay on my feet and keep doing what I needed to do but it did not make it easy for my kids.
I can relate to that. I remarried in February of 2022. It was extremely difficult for my daughter. My daughter lives out West in California. I live here in Virginia. My son lives locally. When I started dating my husband, my son was part of that experience. He was at the house. He was able to warm up to the idea that my mom was dating.
When I said I was going to start dating, my son said, “Mom, you know how demanding I was?” I was like, “It will be okay.” He was impressed that this gentleman loves my mom and he’s showing up. My daughter did not attend the wedding. I had to come to terms and I was feeling my feelings all over some different widow support groups.
People gave me some good advice. They said, “It’s your wedding. It’s your day.” Her dad, my late husband, we eloped in shorts in Florida. I did a whole wedding dress. It was an entire wedding. The advice I received was, “Focus on you. This is your wedding.” There was part of my heart that was so sad knowing how she felt.
The wedding was in February. My daughter eventually came to visit in May and that was the beginning of her accepting it. Now, it’s a much better situation. I don’t know if it’s the daddy’s girl because she was extremely close to her dad and she’s well into her twenties. The complications for younger children, emotionally, are so many different things and it’s complicated. I will leave it at that. It is something to work through, but it’s worth the work of doing, I will say, as far as my experience and probably for yours now. How long have you been married to your second husband?
Twenty-one years. It’s been a while. It’s interesting you said that. My daughter was a daddy’s girl and as they say, she had him wrapped around her little finger. That was quite a loss. I don’t think she’d disagree with me if I said that. We are still working on it.
I think it’s like Winston’s 25-year anniversary of his death. That’s still something I’m working on. For my daughter and my son, it has not been an easy thing. Mark passed away in March. It was a good six months before I felt like I was showing up in their life and communicating because I was so numb. It is a very complicated process. I’m glad that you had a therapist and were able to lean into that type of help. Thinking of things that are therapeutic, I know this is the second edition of your book, but what started the first edition?
I got a challenge to write something, write a book on animal communication. I thought, “What do I know?” I know transitions. My journey into animal communication started when my dogs started communicating with me. The first two that communicated had already passed on. I worked with a lot of animals and I thought, “I’m going to tell a lot of good stories that will help people realize that there’s a lot of love there.” You can help them through the transition. You are going to connect with them probably after they have passed. It’s not all bad. That was, that was the first one. It was a lot of storytelling about some of the lovely things that happen to people even as they lose their animals as they pass on.
In the beginning, you mentioned four dogs, Timmy, Eddie, Mitsubishi, and Tibor. Were they listed in order that they were your pets? Which was the first?
Timmy was the first and then Mitsubishi. Timmy and Eddie were the first who passed and communicated with me. I had a real-life communication with Mitsubishi. Tibor had a very rough start. I started seeing some visions from his past life that were disturbing about him seeing dog training. I picked up other things somebody said, “That’s animal communication.” I said, “Really? Okay. Let me get some training on this. Let me do it on purpose. This is pretty interesting stuff.”
When I was in the book, in the introduction it says, “I originally wrote this book because it became clear that for many animal lovers, losing your animal companion can be as hard or harder than losing your family and friends. This is because in addition to losing a loved one, most of the time, we must decide when and how to let our animals go. It is a terrible burden.”
“After they are gone, we miss them fiercely because others often don’t acknowledge the depths of our grief. We don’t feel safe sharing our grief like we do when humans, relatives, or friends die. We go through the same grieving process as people do when beloved friends and families die. We want to find a way to feel peace about the loss in a way that honors our feelings, our grief, and mutual love with our animal.”
I thought that was so beautiful because you are validating their loss. When I talk to people who are widows or widowers or maybe divorced or who have had extreme hardship, that pet becomes everything to them. When that pet dies and is no longer here, it stirs up another level of grief that they may have already. Those words rang true to me as far as how helpful this would be. Somebody may go, “It’s a dog, it’s a cat. They died.” A whole book, for someone to have a safe space to unpack how they feel. The chapters that you have here. I’m not going to give all the tea away, but we are going to cover three, I want to read through the chapter titles quickly if that’s okay with you.
That’s fine, yeah. Thank you.
The Right Mind For Peace, Myth About Animals and Animal Transitions, Truth, Finding A Spiritual Approach to Losing Our Animals, The Timing of Their Death is Tricky, Animal Communication Strategies, Mortality Beyond Regular Medical Care. That’s huge. There is such a huge ability to care for your animals. It’s not they get sick and you put them down. There is way more than it was when I was younger and I had a dog and pets and things that are available.
Energy, Healing and Medical Institution, Getting Ready For The Transition, Transition Time, Helping Children Through Their Animal’s Death. That chapter right there alone is so huge during the transition. After the Transition, Visits After Death, Lingering Questions, Doing Good Work After Death, Reincarnation, Spiritual Gifts, Choosing Your Next Animal Companion, Honoring Our Animals Who Have Passed Final Thoughts.
I wanted to read those because someone said, “What’s in a book about the death of a pet?” These chapters will probably speak to someone and make it even more interesting why this would benefit them. I have only chosen three chapters to talk about, because I want to leave something for the reader to enjoy from their version, too. Do we mind if we get into some of this?
Let’s do it. Thank you.
I have a few questions about the first chapter that I want to talk about is myths about animals and animal transition. You covered nine different subjects in that particular chapter and you unpacked a lot of information. The two that I wanted to you speak about, item number one, death ends your relationship. That’s on page seven.
I’m going to talk about my experience. My experience has been pretty great. I have had experiences where I have seen my doggy who passed, my Timmy, as what I call full body apparition as if he was physically there for a microsecond. I always tell this story because it’s one ear up, one ear down. That’s my Timmy. Tongue wagging and tongue hanging out happy and then he was gone. I have an experiential belief and I know I’m not crazy, so I have got to put that aside. I don’t think I would have stayed in the military that long.
No, it would have been found, especially since they are probably trying to get women out quicker than not.
It was real. I had another one. I thought, “Why not?” When I connect with animals who pass, their whole personality is still there. The belief is that when their body dies, there’s nothing else, you have to use different words, and people, to make it work for you. I don’t mind calling it a soul, their essence, or their personality. It still lives on, because I have contacted them. I have gotten validation. It doesn’t end at death. They survive just as I believe the human species survives as well.It doesn't end at death. Animals survive. Just like the human species survives. Click To Tweet
I will leave this to the reader to find, but you talk about how energy is continual, and the science part of that, in relating that to their energy transforms into something else that is not particularly final. I don’t want to give everything away. I have done some reading here. The other myth that I was not aware of or even thought about, was the myth that animals must be taken to the veterinarian to be euthanized.
That’s what I grew up with. I have found that there are a lot of veterinarians that will come to the house. It used to be that the only one that got that one is horses because you are not taking your horse to the vet. That was the mission. For us with the smaller animals, you can set up a time when they come to the house. The ones that I have worked with, it is like a very sacred ceremony. One of my best memories of this was with my dog, Mitsubishi. We had the vet and it probably was a friend of hers who came out, but before we did that, we had a wake for Mitsubishi while he was still alive.
Friends in the neighborhood brought the dogs over to say goodbye. Kids in the neighborhood came over and we told stories about him and fed him all the treats that he loved, even though it wouldn’t get digested or going anywhere. We had a wonderful farewell for this boy before we let him go. He was home. My little dog Stella was there and she could be with us and my kids came over and hung out as much as they wanted to. It was very lovely. In most places now, you have a choice to have the vet come to the house and take care of them. You don’t have to go to the office.
That is such a different experience. Thank you for mentioning that. I’m sure someone may have never thought of that and the opportunity to make that transition easier on them, their pet, and the family. The idea of the neighborhood dogs coming over to be able to do that, I cannot imagine what disposition was better for the dog than having to go to a sterile place. I have had dogs. My husband and I have one now. No dog is a fan of going to the veterinarian most of the time. You have to drag them in there. They know they are getting a shot or something. I wanted to bring that out because that was such a unique thing to know about.
Thank you. I want to add something in there too. It’s also great for us because one of the hardest things is sitting in the waiting room if you have to as you are waiting to end your dog or cat or whatever’s life. Coming out and walking through the waiting room again. It’s difficult to be in a public place when you have lost a loved one. I don’t know. Being at home and then getting to do your own thing afterward, feels so much safer. Nobody’s mean or anything. It feels like a safer space. It is a safer space. It’s so much easier.
Thank you for writing about that. I will skip to my next blue tab here, Chapter 15, Lingering Questions. I have two questions from that section. You cover about six different items in that particular chapter. The first question that you spoke about was a lingering question, why did they leap?
You have to go back. I’m not going to be quoting what’s in the book.
No, I wasn’t expecting you. No one can remember word for word. That’s written, that’s done. Just the essence of it.
If you want peace, you have to look for a spiritual answer. There was possibly a purpose for them to be with us. If you want to go with her, you guys worked it out beforehand. I met so many people who said, “My dog, my cat chose me or I looked into their eyes or I found them on the same place I found my last dog by the side of the road.” I am not kidding. When they leave, it feels to me that there was a completion. No matter how awful the ending was, there is something that they said, “I got to go now. My time is up.” Sometimes we don’t know it. We have to trust that.
I got lucky. I heard about my dog, Mitsubishi. After he passed, I said, “Why did you go? I wanted more.” He got real stern with me. This is in my mind. He says, “Somebody else needs you.” I had the thing where we had 1 boy dog and 1 girl dog. He said, “I needed to go because you needed to get somebody.” That’s where I found Tibor. I’m pretty sure he probably came from a dog-fighting background. I don’t think, given his start, he would have lasted at anybody else’s home.
I don’t know if anybody else has adopted a dog where somehow we clicked or a cat. There’s that reason there. I’d noticed sometimes, and it’s hard to say it, but they felt like they were a chapter in your life and that chapter’s over and that you are starting something else. Not in a bad way, but they are like, “I’m done. I did what I was here to do. You did what you were here to do for me and I’m moving on now.” Those are two thoughts that come to mind.
In that same chapter, Lingering Questions, what if they passed when we weren’t with them?
There are a lot of possibilities. There’s not one final answer. Some people feel and I have validated that with their animals, it was easier for them to pass when the person wasn’t there. The truth is the person felt a little bit of relief. That’s not every case. Some felt like this was the time to go. I don’t have a perfect answer for that, but I do have a sense that whether you knew it or not if you weren’t there, you and they were connected at some spiritual plane.
They felt connected to you even in their passing. I want to reassure people that just because you are not there physically, it’s not like you haven’t connected at some level. I know it’s not conscious, but, “I love you. I’m probably going to be devastated when I find it out, but some part of me is here for some part of you.” That’s the way I’m going to say it. I hope people will feel that in their hearts.
All those long, nice conversations you have had with your pet, the things that you felt connected to, they were understanding you, you were understanding them. If you were not physically there at that moment, going back to not have guilt about that because the timing of when they left and what that looked like and your presence physically or not does not derail the relationship.
Thank you for saying it that way. That was lovely.
You are welcome. I have one more chapter and then I’m going to ask if there’s something you want to talk about in the book that I didn’t cover, like maybe what is your favorite spot? The next chapter is Chapter 19, Choosing Your Next Animal Companion. You talk about six different things in that chapter, which I thought was pretty neat, also. My two questions are the areas that you cover, not some of the questions to talk about. Give yourself permission to wait until you are ready.
This is important. The loss for us is so deep that sometimes, without knowing it, if you go too fast, you spend a lot of time comparing the new version of your animal to the one who died. That’s not safe. That’s not kind. It’s not mean. People do it. It’s like, “So and so was like this. It was my cuddly cat. This one will come over sometimes, but it doesn’t sit on me like my other one did.”The loss for us is so deep that sometimes without knowing it, if you go too fast, you spend a lot of time comparing the new version of your animal to the one who just died. Click To Tweet
Yes. You think you are going to get the same thing. You are going to get a clone or you didn’t even know it until it’s not there anymore. Wait a little bit. Also, sometimes there’s pressure to fix it by getting another animal, animal. You emotionally are not ready. Honor that, even if it’s somebody you are married to. Just say, “No, we got to wait. I am not ready to start this again.” Wait until you are ready, because then, you are bringing the animal into a different energy than what it was if you got forced into it or it felt like you made the decision too early.
The other statement you make in Chapter 19 is to get a consensus with other humans in the family.
Yes. They move together.
I was trying to look at something. I was like, “Those resonate with each other.”
Yeah, they do because sometimes, somebody’s gung-ho, “I need one now. I can’t stand not having one.” Maybe there are kids involved too. Find out who’s ready and who’s not, and keep talking about it. If you are the one who wants to get it right away and they have got somebody who doesn’t, compassion is a good place to be because if you make the decision together, again, you start the relationship with this new animal without somebody feeling a little resentful that they have been pushed into it. There’s a loving energy of ‘We’re doing this together’ rather than ‘I’m being forced to or forcing her because I can’t stand it any longer.’
I think that it’s important because somebody may say, “I’m going to surprise them with the dog because our dog died,” and the other person is nowhere near ready. They didn’t talk about it. They didn’t have the conversation. This type of dialogue makes you have a discussion about something you may have put on autopilot. You didn’t have something to prompt you to think about it a little differently.
Don’t do that. Don’t do it to the other person. Don’t do it to your relationship and don’t do it to the animal you are bringing in. It’s got to be a joint decision. All hands on deck decision, as we would say in the Navy.
Are there any particular areas of the book that you wanted to talk about, and maybe what is different in this edition than the first edition?
I got a lot more stories, and I love the people who volunteered when I asked and they would say yes. I spend a lot more time getting ready for the transition because what I realized is that our grief starts the moment we either see our animal doing a serious decline in health or behavior, cognitive, or we get some horrible diagnosis. We always knew the end was in sight, but now, yes, it’s going to happen. There’s a lot more on the alternative therapies, things that you can do to help them through it. Staying in the now is important. Remember, they didn’t get the diagnosis. They don’t have that emotional baggage around that diagnosis. They are living with it now.
My phrase is, “I’m not dead yet, so stop going forward and thinking about it. Be with me now. Do whatever.” Maybe a lot of us do. We put the stair treads on the stairs so they can get up the stairs and take them to the acupuncturist, this is me so that they can walk farther and longer. I know what food is best for them. We stay with them and they are enjoying this life with them rather than we are sad about it. That’s where I would like to be the last reminder to finish.
A couple more questions. If you were to choose any age, any era to talk to younger Maribeth, what age group would it be and what would you tell her?
I think that I’m talking to the ten-year-old, and I would say, “I like who you are. I like who we have become. It’s taken me a long time to get there. Don’t spend so much time thinking you are not as good as you or you are weird. Just go with it, girl. Have some fun with it. Enjoy it. Hold onto those things that you love about yourself and find them. Hold them dear and discover them and keep them.” I wish it didn’t take me so long to rediscover some cool things that were there all along.
What gives you joy these days?
Working with people and their animals is one of the lovely things I have found because people’s hearts are so open when working with them. I am working on my relationship with my second husband. Twenty-one years isn’t perfect yet. Not even close. What brings me joy is that we are jumping in and finding the laughter and the weird sense of humor. It’s coming back up for us. I’m enjoying mining that and making fun of ourselves and having two new dogs join our cats and learning those personalities. That’s it for me right now.
Thank you for this conversation. I will leave it to you to any closing comments, thoughts, or suggestions to our readers.
Let me see if I have anything sitting in the back of my mind. Thank you. Even the hard times are a gift. It takes a little while sometimes to figure it out. Don’t keep looking. It’s the story I heard when I was getting sober. Somebody sees this little boy digging through a pile of manure, and he is digging, and somebody comes by and says, “What are you doing?” He says, “There’s so much manure. There’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.” Thank you for laughing, but that’s what I do. Let’s look for the little pony.
We have to because sometimes, life is propping on you. You have to hope that there’s more that resonates because I’m thinking of this humongous pile of poo, and he’s covered in it. He’s all over it. That’s what life looks like. You have to keep fudging, plowing, or picking through it because if not, you stop. There’s so much joy and things to appreciate and memories that if we don’t, we will lose that opportunity to cherish them. It is hard. It stinks. It’s crappy. That’s appropriate.
Thank you so much for this conversation.
This has been wonderful. Thank you.
I am so appreciative of Maribeth to be able to join the show. I am certain that some of you have lost pets or you may have a pet and be very anxious they may be not feeling well or thinking of them dying. I know that this book, Peace in Passing, will be very beneficial to you in that journey. Maribeth is also part of the Widowhood community. I’m glad for her speaking candidly about that, being a young widow, and those different challenges and being a woman in the military.
I hope that this conversation has been helpful to you. I am sorry for the person that you have lost that has died that has driven you to find us, but I am welcoming you into the Widowhood. To catch up and check out some other episodes and some of our social content, reach out. Email me if you’d like to share your journey or if you’d like to be part of our private Facebook group. We meet up virtually on the last Thursday of every month. On the third Saturday of the month, we have a book club. I hope to hear from you soon.
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About Maribeth Decker
Maribeth Decker is an intuitive animal communicator, medical intuitive, and energy healer, and is the founder of SacredGrove.com, where People and Pets Heal and Connect. She works with pet guardians who dearly love their animals yet face tough issues. She uses her intuitive animal communication and energetic healing skills to address animals’ physical, emotional, and behavioral issues. She is also an author.
Maribeth is especially gifted in helping pets and their people move gracefully through transitions – into the family, a new family, or the next life. Maribeth helps people find peace and comfort, knowing they have made the right decision for everyone, including their animals. They finally experience that deep, mutual love with the animal they have longed for.
A retired Navy officer, Maribeth’s rich personal life experiences have enabled her to bring a wealth of heart-centered wisdom to her work with each client. Her unyielding intention is to consistently bring forth the maximum benefit for all concerned in the most benevolent manner possible. Maribeth’s speaking style is warm and comforting, accented by a wicked sense of humor. She’s an excellent storyteller, and audiences love her.
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