Inspiring Kindness and Compassion towards Animals, Our Planet, and Each Other
Inspiring Kindness and Compassion towards Animals, Our Planet, and Each Other

From Grief to Gratitude

We had another round of losses at The Gentle Barn this week. We lost our pot-bellied pigs, Lilly and Jasmine, to cancer; our horse, Cherokee, to an incurable joint infection; and, our Chihuahua, Milo, to heart failure. When we have this many animals, many of whom came in at the same time, as they get older there are times when we lose several at the same time. It is so painful!

When I first founded The Gentle Barn and experienced my first losses, it broke my heart so much that I almost quit. I thought that I was not strong enough to deal with the pain and the grief. After several days of being torn and anguished, I realized that I had to continue my dream and find a way to deal with letting go. It never really got any easier but my approach to letting go got a tiny bit simpler.

First, I examined my thoughts about where animals go when they cross over. There are so many ideas and beliefs based on culture, religion, tradition, and personal experiences. What I personally came to believe was that our bodies are kind of like cars - we drive them to get where we are going but we are not the same as our cars. When our cars break down or get totaled, we keep going and we just get out of the car. I think bodies are that way as well. I think we have our bodies to get where we are going and when our bodies fail, our spirits continue. None of us know for sure if our beliefs are true or not. I suppose we will find out when we die. For now, this belief feels right to me and gives me comfort.

So, assuming that the body fails and the soul continues, then there is no death. The only thing that really dies is our physical relationship with the person or animal. Right now I miss feeding grapes to Jazz and rubbing Lilly’s belly so much. I miss looking into their large green eyes and watching their cute little tails wag. My arms ache to run my fingers through Cherokee’s mane and bury my face in his neck and smell his horsey smell. And, I would give anything to see Milo at The Gentle Barn once more, strutting his huge personality around in his tiny body, holding him in our arms, gazing in his eyes. Of course, I need time to grieve over the end of that physical relationship, but it makes me feel better that my beloveds still continue on in some way. I can still close my eyes and feel them, talk with them, and carry them in my heart.

Once I deal with the loss of that physical relationship with them, the grief slowly turns to gratitude. There are millions of people on earth and millions of circumstances in which they could have lived. These creatures were with me! I got to know them, hold them, care for them, learn from them, be inspired by them, be loved by them, and be graced by their presence. Me! How lucky was I?! I got to watch Cherokee play ball in the pasture while I smiled and laughed. I got to rub Jazz and Lilly's bellies while they grunted thank you’s. I got to save Milo from a life of living alone outdoors, bring him home, give him love, and watch the light and the hope come back into his eyes. No matter how much losing them hurts, I would not trade knowing them for anything!

I cry and I ache, and I forget that they are gone and I go outside to see them to be reminded, and it hurts all over again. Eventually, I put their picture up, talk to them in my mind, and dream of them. They live on in my heart and thoughts and in the stories told of them with everyone who knew and loved them too. I thank goodness that I am the one that got to know them and love them and I feel so very, very blessed!

Ellie Laks
The Gentle Barn

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  • Thermal Horizon - Windsong Retreat (Spring 2024)

    May 4th 2024 - The Gentle Barn California

    Let’s come together as a community as we support The Gentle Barn in their endeavor to enrich the lives of abused animals worldwide. Let’s bring our loving hearts, the spirit of opportunity and fill our cups emotionally, spiritually, and physically as we celebrate unity in community by helping these wonderful support animals.

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    May 18th 2024 - The Gentle Barn California

    Clear, Balance and Align your 7 main Chakras through guided meditation, chanting, and Integrative sound bath. When your chakras are aligned, the energy moves through you more freely, and you can feel in harmony with all aspects of your physical, emotional and spiritual self.

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    We are excited to be open to the public again on Sunday, at The Gentle Barn: Tennessee.