It has been a fascinating journey these past six weeks since Maya died, having many discussions about death and dying. What I found is that while I want to explore the topic and every nuance to it and think outside the box, people have different capacities to handle that conversation. I don’t force it, but rather look for who can engage with me in the conversation.
Years ago, when I experienced my first significant loss I was introduced to The Grief Recovery Handbook by John James and Russell Friedman. It has been instrumental for me in learning how to process grief whether it’s from losing a family member, a pet, or even the loss of a job or relationship. It has allowed me space to even want to take on the next senior horse, and not end up with a pile of unresolved grief from horse after horse dying.
What I realized about my other senior horse, Chaco, is that he is emotionally stable. He could handle being with Maya 24/7 in the weeks leading up to her death, and be fully aware that she was not well. He could handle her being in the dying process, just grazing in proximity to her but not hovering over her. When we moved Maya’s body the day after she died, he went out to her body and grazed close by. The next day when there was a significant stench, he still grazed in proximity to her body.
When I look at all of this, this is why I rehab senior horses, to see them fully alive, engaged with life and whatever comes their way, no matter how difficult. When I see what is possible in horses, it makes me want the same for myself. Thank you, Maya and Chaco. (Maya is on the right).