Over the years, I have had the honor of holding space through hospice and memorial services for a few very special individuals, both humans and pets. I have also studied extensively with an African shaman who taught me grief rituals and funeral rites from his tradition, with the caveat that when I perform these rites, I adapt them to my own culture and beliefs. What you are about to read is the culmination of years of study and spiritual practice around grieving. The results of this process are profound. I have discovered that in "losing" my best friend four-legged companion, I have felt more alive and fulfilled with utter and complete LOVE than I can ever remember. While I feel and tender yet subtle sadness, the overwhelming emotion consuming me is just LOVE. Here's what I did for my elder pup Sukha on the day of her Rainbow Bridge Crossing.
Sukha's Love Lives in ME
I have joked over the entire 14+ years of Sukha's life that she can never die. I wasn't really joking. I have put into place an elaborate process to keep her spirit alive with me forever.
I am forever changed by Sukha's influence. She has taught me numerous lessons about life and spirit, perhaps more than any human ever has. Virtually every significant memory for the last 14 years includes her essence either at the forefront, or somewhere in the periphery. Thus, she is in me. She is deeply embedded in my cellular memory, my nervous system, and just thinking of her activates my hormones. A thought, a memory, a smell, or a vision of her, and all kinds of messages and memories get triggered throughout my body. This ritual process is a way of honoring that influence and ensuring that I can keep it active after her physical body is long gone. This is a way to keep her memory alive in my system, and to wake it anytime I might need it.
Sukha taught me about love, because she is LOVE. And LOVE NEVER DIES.
As I see auras and chakras, what I have seen in people and pets as they are dying is that their auric fields gradually dissolve. It is as if it gets absorbed by the atmosphere around it. Just as our bodies decompose into the soil (ashes to ashes, dust to dust), our energy evaporates into the air, like smoke. The Chakra Spread Energy Healing is a way to facilitate this process, to smooth any snags and catches on the energy so that it can smoothly transition. It also helps with cutting cords from the living so that there aren't any strings holding the energy on earth.
While this video depicts the chakra spread done on a human, it works just as well on pets. However, pets are far more sensitive to energy than humans, so sometimes they will get up and leave during the process.
For my Sukha, she doesn't like direct energy work, so I always work remotely, without direct energy. On the morning of her Rainbow Bridge Crossing, in the early waking moments just after I woke and before Sukha stirred, I spent 20 minutes doing the Chakra Spread for her through meditation and visualization. I imagined my fingers combing through the strands of her aura like brushing long hair. As I did, many of the strands pulled entirely away from her and floated off into space. I also found several snarls and chunks that I tenderly untangled and released from her. I knew I was done when she got up and asked for breakfast.
If you don't know Reiki or Healing Touch, there are many light workers who also work with animals. I would recommend Mary Gavin Intuitive who works both in-person and remotely with dogs and humans.
I made a list of all the things Sukha loves (and can still do), and made a point of giving her all the creature comforts I could on the day of her crossing. This included a long very very slow walk where we stopped to sniff ALL the things for as long as she wanted to sniff. She got a hand-fed breakfast of eggs and chicken and bacon bits. She got as many "rides" up and down the stairs to go outside as she asked for, even if it meant we went right back down within just a few minutes of coming up.
Sukha's Uncle Gary, a shaman on the east coast offered to do a traditional Native American pipe ceremony for Sukha on the day of her crossing. This was extra special and not expected. If you don't know a shaman to perform a pipe ritual, this step isn't vital, but is definitely a beautiful addition.
On the day of Sukha's crossing, I asked a number of friends of Sukha's to light a candle at the time of her crossing and keep it lit for one hour. I had reports of candles burning for Sukha in Massachusetts, Virginia, Illinois, California, Oregon, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and even Australia! Some of those friends also charged a stone or crystal for Sukha's faerie garden shrine (see below) by doing the Journey Meditation and leaving the stone with the candle for the hour. I also lit the candle on my ancestor shrine, illuminating the empty space that would soon be filled by Sukha. I kept it lit during the time of her crossing, and then installed her picture in the empty space immediately after the crossing.
Sacred Ash, Water, Sage & Spirit Offerings
I prepared the space for the actual crossing with sacred offerings. I laid out a large bedsheet on the grass and created a perimeter by sprinkling ash and water around the outside edge. I built the crystal grid (see next) on the bedsheet. I burned incense and sage to cleanse the yard, and I smudged all the individuals involved in the ritual.
Sukha's Auntie Lynn, a medicine woman who lives in the Virginia mountains, researched Sukha's Celtic birth and death trees as well as the stones and crystals associated with Sukha's birth and death dates. She found an appropriate tree on her sacred mountain land to build a more elaborate crystal grid. That tree will be Sukha's spirit tree and a place I can go to connect with her Spirit.
Auntie Lynn's crystal grid linked to a similar one I built in our backyard where Sukha's body was at the time of the crossing. I used stones that I had gathered over a decade of traveling across country with Sukha. I also used protection stones that I had charged with full-moon baths. And, I used rose quartz and amethyst for heart and third eye energies which were the chakras Sukha communicates to me through the most.
Building your own crystal grid doesn't have to be as elaborate or deep as mine. It could be as simple as setting out four stones for the four elements and four directions. Or you could create a stone circle or mandala. Be creative. Use whatever stones and crystals move you, even if they are just landscaping rocks from your yard.
Opening the Portal Gateway
Right before the vet started her process, I offered spirit (hard liquor) and spit in the four directions for the four elements. I called in the ancestors, including all pets who had loved me before Sukha, and the fae spirit beings to come and greet Sukha at the portal gateway.
From the time I open the portal (above) until Sukha had fully crossed the rainbow bridge, we had a sound bath. I sit in the center of the crystal grid with Sukha while a couple of dear spiritual friends to give us a sound bath using various instruments (guitar lullaby, drumming, chanting, ancestor wind chimes, singing bowls, bells, etc.)
I believe that our spirit and soul rides on our breath. In fact, many indigenous cultures believe that sharing of breath is sharing of essence. Therefore, as we breathe together we imbibe each other's life force essence. To drink in someone's last breath is the most powerful way of bringing that person's (or pet's) energy into you. As the vet injects the sedative followed by the euthanasia, Sukha and I lay together in the crystal grid and sound bath and breathe together. I match my breath to hers, my inhalation receiving her exhalation. Until her very last breath.
Closing the Portal Gateway
Once more, I offer spirit (hard liquor) by spitting it in the four directions of the crystal grid, this time thanking the ancestors and spirits for their support and participation. As the sound bath winds down, I break the stone grid by collecting one stone from each of the directions and placing it in a pile in the center. At this time, the vet may leave, taking Sukha's body with her for cremation.
Faerie Garden Activation
Because Sukha was so significant to my life, I chose to build a Faerie Garden in a pedestal pot. It has a faerie house, a rainbow bridge opposite a tree with a faerie swinging from a branch. I placed a tiny urn inside the faerie house with a bit of Sukha's fur and ash inside. The faerie on the swing represents me. All I need to do to connect with Sukha's spirit is swing the faerie on the tree. I also lined the garden with the stones provided by friends who participated in the crystal grid.
Ancestor Shrine Installation
Find a stone or crystal, and take some time to light a candle and do the Journey Meditation (see below) while holding that stone or crystal. That process activated that stone or crystal in a giant crystal grid that supported Sukha's portal to the rainbow bridge.
Journey Meditation to Activate a Stone Memory Talisman
Hold a small stone or crystal in your left hand and cover it with your right.
Take a moment to settle comfortably into your seat.
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath.
Visualize yourself in a meadow, lush and green.
A little ways off in the distance is a beautiful rainbow bridge. As you walk towards the bridge, notice that on the other side of the bridge are all your ancestors, loved ones who have passed, smiling and waving at you. Your pets are there too, wagging their tails and twitching their ears.
Standing in the middle of the bridge is _______, as you remember him/her to be his/her happiest.
Perhaps you see him/her as a little boy/girl, or a teenager, or an adult.
Perhaps you recognize the smile on his/her face as one he/she gave you during a happy memory of your life together.
As you approach the bridge, he/she walks towards you, and you are consumed by the golden glow of his/her aura, the vibrancy of his/her smile, the sparkle in his/her eyes. He/She reaches for you and touches the stone you now hold in your hand. Clasping his/her hands around yours, around the stone.
He/She looks into your eyes, with brilliance and peace and says
“As much as I loved the life we had and all the times we shared,
I was so very tired and knew my time on earth was done.
When I came to this place and found this bridge, my own tired, failing body was fresh and healed and new.
My ancestors (perhaps name a few here) are here to receive me,
as are all the Ancestors and my loved ones, both human and animal, who passed before me.
This place is truly wonderful.
Before I cross the bridge, I want you to know, I’m all right.
Although we may not be together in the way we used to be, we are still connected.
So whenever you need to find me, I’m never very far away.
Simply hold this stone, as the doorbell to this rainbow bridge.
Through this stone, I will hear you.
Tell me all your joys and your woes.
Listen with your heart, I will join you there.”
After he/she finishes, (insert name here) embraces you. Then, he/she turns and walks across the bridge to the Other Side, where he/she is joyfully received by all his/her Ancestors and pets. Slowly, the bridge disappears, and the image of (insert name here) with his/her loved ones fades.
It is time for you to go home. To live your life as he/she would dream you will.
Take a moment to squeeze the stone in your hand, and bring yourself back to this room, this moment.
Take a deep breath.
Open your eyes.
You may now hold this stone and go back to that meadow visualization anytime you want to connect with your loved one.