Several times in my life, I've been part of the death of an animal. Two of them died of natural causes but with difficulty. In neither case, did I know enough to get them to a vet. In the second of those cases, I was at the end of my drinking and too out of it to realize the kitten was in trouble. The memory of that causes me great sorrow.
In more recent times, I've participated in the death of two beloved pets, Maury with cancer and Jake two weeks ago of complications of old age. In all cases, except with Jake, the experience of the death itself has been similar. The animal has died and the spirit has flown. It has evaporated; it has disappeared. But Jake's spirit seemed to linger. There was not that sense of sudden emptiness, a sudden void in the energy. Rather his body moved on (the vet took it with her) but something of Jake remained behind. I felt it all that first evening, I felt it when I came back from being away a week later, I feel it still.
It isn't ghoulish or frightening. It's more that Jake's spirit has taken on another form. And this week I realized that Jake has become a spirit helper for me. In the Native American tradition, we all have totem animals, animals whose wisdom and strengths are ours to call upon in times of need. The bear is such a totem for me and I have several images of bears that are important to me. I also have a spirit guide made of smoke who is associated with a large wild cat. One of the two, the ssmoke being or the cat, is named Roger. I don't know how I know this, I just do.
And now I think Jake has joined this group, that he is watching over me, lending me support and love and devotion. That he's there for me in some essential way. That makes me smile.