Posted on May 24, 2023
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
When I started The Gentle Barn after having it as a dream since I was seven years old, I imagined it to feel like seeing rainbows, playing with unicorns, and listening to harps every day. It does feel like that, and it is also full of painful loss that sometimes brings me to my knees. With approximately two hundred rescued animals at any given time, most of them physically challenged or elderly, I have suffered way too many losses, and at the same time, have loved so many angels.
Twenty-four years ago, after experiencing some of my first losses, I wanted to give up and quit The Gentle Barn, believing that the pain would be too hard and that I was not strong enough to handle it. Looking into the grateful eyes of my other animals, I realized that I had to keep going and I had to find a way to fulfill my purpose and stay sane. My self-care routine has grown from there, finding more and more ways to nurture and strengthen myself in times of need.
I created a “toolbox” that I keep stocked with all the things that can help me when I am hurting. I keep the names and numbers of energy healers, therapists, and compassion fatigue experts that I can call to heal me. I maintain a list of five basic, inexpensive, easy things that I can do to bring me joy; like meditate, walk in nature, spend time in the barnyard, take a bubble bath, and spend time with a close friend. I try to do these things often and do them all when I am in crisis. I remind myself that life is like a mosaic: when we look closely, we see shapes and colors that don’t make sense. But when we step back and see the entire picture, we see that all the shapes and colors add up to create a gorgeous picture. There are mysteries to the universe that we can’t understand. But I must have faith that it does make sense and though we can’t see the entire picture, each human, animal, and experience is like a shard of tile in the mosaic, and we all add up to create a beautiful picture called life. I must believe that we are born when we are meant to, and we pass away when we are meant to, and we are all privileged to play a small part in our animals’ journeys, however how long it may be or what it might look like. I also try very hard to spend focused time with each of our animals every day, so that when they do pass away, there are no regrets. Missing them is painful enough without having guilt and regret added in.
Speaking with our animals who have transitioned helps so much! Connecting with them, reliving memories, and receiving messages from them allows us to realize that they are still with us. When one of our animals pass away, I make time to communicate with them and it always makes me feel much better! I have done animal communication readings for thousands of clients and reconnected them with their animals. I am here for you as well.
No matter how much it hurts when one of our animals pass away, no matter how much I cry or how long I grieve, I would not trade a second of knowing and loving them for anything in the world. At the end of the day, the greatest comfort is to realize that out of billions of people in the world, our animals choose us. Out of millions of homes in the world, our animals choose ours. They are our greatest gifts and realizing that helps me go quickly from grief to gratitude.