What’s a tragic topper to a global pandemic, horrifying murders of innocent black brothers and sisters with escalating violence, economic collapse and record high joblessness…?
The sudden loss of a dear dog in the middle of everything.
2020 has certainly brought a motherload of misery and rocked the world. Once in a great while, something unimaginable happens that shocks the system so suddenly the world appears radically different. Instantly everything is processed with new (usually softer) software. What captured attention yesterday seems unimportant today, and clichés like Don’t take life or loved ones for granted become vividly real. Songs even on the lowest volume reverberate throughout one’s body, trees begin to breathe and look more alive…and old grudges fall away with renewed focus. All that matters are matters of the heart.
Last week, unexpectedly, my husband and I said goodbye to our little dog, Stella. She was 10 years old. The heartbreak has been unbearable. We didn’t have children and Stella was every bit our baby. For anyone who thinks of a furry friend as ‘just a dog,’ there is research confirming that losing a pet can be as intense or worse than losing a person you love.
The grief has felt so significant that I’ve postponed several projects to honor Stella, and allow these waves of love and pain to penetrate the places that need a sacred soul shake-up. Already I feel like a different person than I was a week ago. Stella’s spirit continues to spark magic, even from the afterlife.
First, a little bit about her.
She was pretty damn cute…
She loved tummy rubs…
She was the consummate good girl, but occasionally broke the rules…
She liked to ponder the universe…
She was the model mutt for an Essie ad featuring mommy’s polished paws…
She had many friends…
(She would get SO excited to see certain friends that for the first year of her life she’d often pee upon greeting people. Especially our neighbor Dave.)
Though she didn’t like doggy day care…
But most of all, she spread joy…
If you know me, you may be aware that I talk to animals through a talented intuitive named Sonya. Every communication inevitably brings a few good laughs and many things to think about. I’ve had deeper conversations with my cat than I’ve had with many people.
Our last talk with Stella was particularly poignant. Two days before she left the planet without warning, she told us there was ‘pressure’ in her brain on the left side (which the neurologist’s clinical report confirmed the following day). She also said this:
“Take time every single day to be very present. Be mindful of what’s taking your time and energy. It’s fine to get things done on your to-do list, but coming back into your body is something you both need more of. Take care of yourself first, not everyone else. Please learn from what I’m experiencing before it’s too late.”
Stella would always perk up whenever I put the phone down and follow me into the yard where she’d sit in the shade and watch me water or weed the garden. This simple activity was always more satisfying than tapping away at the mind-numbing technologies of today.
Sonya shared that Stella’s favorite activities were evening walks and being outside with us – simply sitting still and appreciating the beauty of nature.
The day after Stella passed, we talked to Sonya again. We were shocked and confused by the quick turn in her health and wanted clarity about how and why she departed so suddenly. Stella told us to look at her life not by the quantity of years, but by the quality she experienced.
Stella said she accomplished what she set out to do. Her goal all along was to bring a deeper level of love and understanding.
Needless to say, Stella brought loads of love into our home and cracked our hearts wide open on her way out. She taught me that sensitivity is a strength, not something to apologize for or hide. LOVE is the most powerful force of all.
Stella showed that love should be given freely and more often. We all ultimately want and need the same thing. Stella never waited for someone to show affection first. Her love was immediate, healing and unconditional.
In a world where countries and families are fixated on finger-pointing, of noisy polarized politics, horrifying social injustice, a climate in crisis, and a president who gases peaceful protesters and tweets that the best democrat is a ‘dead’ one – I’ll talk to a dog any day.
We asked Stella for some ‘signs’ that she was ok and so far she’s been showing up through white butterflies appearing out of nowhere, significant songs spontaneously playing on Spotify, and a sweet message from my two-year old niece who said, ‘Stella is in my body.’ Yes, she will absolutely live on in my heart as well.
*If you have a pooch who has passed on, I’d love to hear anything you wish to share about your time together in the comment section below 💛
Oh Deli I’m so sorry to hear about your sweet Stella! My heart is broken for y’all. She was so lovely and adored you so much.
So beautiful honey!! I’m very sorry for your loss of sweet Stella!!
I am so sorry for your loss of your sweetie. I remember watching her and your home when she was a baby on one of your trips. A sweetheart. I know the pain, we lost our dog Bonnie 8 months ago and still grieving.
A beautiful tribute to Stella.
I’m so sorry to hear about sweet Bonnie 💛 What a lucky dog to have you as a momma 🙂 Thank you for taking great care of Stella Bernadette. Much love x
Oh, Deli, my heart feels your heart beating a little slower, feeling the pulse of life in a different way. That grief of losing a pet is indescribable to those who haven’t endured it. We put Berber down a year and a half ago, on a trip to the central coast. We had gotten him from this loving Chinese family on an Easter Sunday, and let go of him right before Christmas (which happened to also be his birthday) in the waning December sunlight under a giant oak tree in Cambria, having just driven like mad through Big Sur to get to the vet before closing to give him the gift of release from pain (he couldn’t get in the car anymore–we had to hoist his 82-pound body). The joy that dogs have brought my life is completely unbridled. He taught me to live with complete grace: life is messy, love is also tangled and not straightforward but worth all the ups and downs. He taught me to be present and enjoy the little things, and most of all, to love unconditionally. Our hearts are fuller having loved animals with abandon. The fact that we outlive them is the rub. And yet, I’d do it again…luckily, we have a housemate with a beautiful dog and cat, so it’s like being grandparents — all the love, yet very little of the responsibility. So much love to you Deli and you ride the waves of grief of losing Stella (which is only because you gained so much love, joy and loyalty from her).
Dearest Alicia, I am so sorry to hear about Berber 💕 What a beautiful, dramatic and poetic story. Most dogs would be blessed to pass on in Big Sur with such a special momma as you ♥️ Thank you for the kind words and for your ongoing sensitivity and friendship. I treasure you x
Such a beautiful tribute to a beautiful dog. You have a furry angel now. So glad I got to meet her. ❤️
Ah, I’m happy too Carol! She loved beautiful animal-loving souls like yourself xx
Deli, I am so very sorry. Stella was truly special and my heart aches for you and Chris. I especially loved the way Stella’s paws were a little duck footed. She had the cutest stance. Keeping you close to my heart ❤️
Haha yes I loved how she was always in second position as well. Maybe she’ll be a ballerina in her next life 🙂 Thank you Christine, love you x
My heart is broken for you, my dear friend. I know how Stella is a part of your soul and how much she lightened the world. I am honored that she peed a little every time I came over. I feel like that means she trusted me. As hard as this time is, please keep close to your heart how Lucky Stella was that she had a mother like you for her short time on this earth. She made everything a little bit better.
She only peed on those people she most loved 😉 Thank you for loving her and being another bright light in the world! xx
Losing our fur babies is devastating. We lost our “Soul” dog 2 years ago. He was a rescue from Taiwan. We named him Tai. He was very sick when we adopted him dn terrified of everyone and everything. Months if Fresh cooked dog food, love and patience paid off. He was the most loving and gentle soul. I have a friend who was terrified of dogs and he healed her fear. He loved to chase squirrels and to sleep with the cats. Our cat Macy Grace was his best friend and she is lost without him. I still cry sometimes. He left a huge hole in my heart. We had 13 amazing years with him and it was not long enough. Hugs to you.
Oh Fawn, what a precious pooch Tai was 💕 I’m sure he would’ve touched my soul as well. Speaking of, I love that name Soul and thought at first that was Tai’s name -Who knows, maybe I’ll put it to use one day when the time comes 😉 I love that you and your husband have so many animals. Can I move in? Sending love to your whole tribe 😻
So sorry you’ve lost little Stella. Her love for you and your love for her will live on.❤️
Thank you dear Bud. Love you! x
Friend – this is such a beautiful tribute. Their love is so vast and deep and there should be a parade in her honor. I am so very sorry for your loss. I understand the depth of your pain so well. Their love is so pure and beautiful and vast like the ocean. What comes to me is for you to look out at the ocean and that is where you will see her love. One of the places. Love to you and may you sleep well tonight and take care of yourself, Tara
Thank you Tara 💛 I know how you love animals as well. I haven’t been sleeping too well since she’s been gone, so I deeply appreciate that prayer 🙏🏼💕 Love to you too x
I’m so sorry for your loss, dear friend. We had our Cocker, Zoey, for 17 1/2 years and loosing her was devastating. We know she’s still with us in spirit and we’ll never forget all the joy she brought to our lives. I hope you find your peace in knowing how much she loved you. God bless….
What a blessing to have Zoey for 17.5 years! Wow that’s beautiful. But I know, it’s never enough time. Sending you much love ❤️
My sweet friend, I’m so touched by your tribute to your furry “goil”. Stella lit up everyone who came in contact with her. She was very special and will be deeply missed. You and Chris gave her a magnificent life. May you take comfort knowing that in your heart breaking, it becomes a wider space for love. We love you. xox
She loved you so much! Thank you for loving her and our family. You are a blessing dear Chip x
I’m so sorry about your baby. I do believe these furry friends are part of our families. Just about 2 weeks ago Ashley and Colin lost the sweetest dog in the world. He was a white boxer and he was their daughter Lilly’s best friend from birth. Ozzy was her first word and she spent much of her first couple of years laying on top of him , sleeping with him in his bed and loving him to death . There are no words to describe how difficult it wAs to make a three year old try to understand through her sobs where was ozzy and why can’t she see him anymore . We have all adopted the rainbow bridge concept for the little ones . We explain to her that dogs go to the rainbow bridge where it is beautiful and happy and he can have all the toys and treats he wants and he is not sick anymore . Of course she wanted to know how he got there. We told her he went to sleep for a time and woke up with wings and he flew over the clouds till he got there . A couple of days after we got her to write a message to him. We got balloons and we all wrote messages .We tied her note on and we gathered round and released the balloon into the sky. She waved goodbye and threw kisses as we all did . She continued to ask some questions , but lo and behold the next day a box with a rainbow balloon attached to it showed up on the door step . It was a note from Ozzy saying he arrived at the rainbow bridge and he wanted her to know how happy he was and that he would be living among the stars , and he would be watching over her. And when she got sad , to look up at the sky and know he is there and will always be with her. He also sent along a couple of little presents and a dog with wings to cheer her up . Now when she speaks of him she says he is happy and watching over her.
Rest In Peace Stella and Ozzy and all of our beloved friends . And the thing about the rainbow bridge is that they wait there for you so you can walk into heaven together 😇🌈
Dear Gena, this story brings tears to my eyes. Lily is Francesca‘s age and we also had difficulty finding a way to communicate Stella’s passing… In case this helps, here is what they recommend on a veterinarian hospital site in Santa Monica (and Francesca’s teacher confirmed the same):
“What should I tell my children?
You are the best judge of how much information your children can handle about death and the loss of their pet. Don’t underestimate them, however. You may find that, by being honest with them about your pet’s loss, you may be able to address some fears and misperceptions they have about death.
Honesty is important. If you say the pet was “put to sleep,” make sure your children understand the difference between death and ordinary sleep. Never say the pet “went away,” or your child may wonder what he or she did to make it leave, and wait in anguish for its return. That also makes it harder for a child to accept a new pet. Make it clear that the pet will not come back, but that it is happy and free of pain.
Never assume a child is too young or too old to grieve. Never criticize a child for tears, or tell them to “be strong” or not to feel sad. Be honest about your own sorrow; don’t try to hide it, or children may feel required to hide their grief as well. Discuss the issue with the entire family, and give everyone a chance to work through their grief at their own pace.”
Thank you for sharing Ozzy‘s story. I’m sending you and your family so much love. These furry family members are so very special 💕
Beautiful. I know how much you and Chris loves Stella. Francesca and I did too. Sending love
Sending love back 💛💛💛 That precious girl of yours was so special to Stella. I’m so glad their souls got to connect for a special moment in time.
Sweet Stella RIP princess…. Its the worst losing a baby. My deepest condolences you all of you. Sending you love and strength XOXO
Thank you Stace. We love little Mellow so much. Wish she and Stella could’ve said goodbye xo
So beautiful and poignant, Adele. Rick and i were some of the first friends to take care of Stella when she was just a puppy and we lived in Santa Monica then. she was always a joy and so damn adorable! i am so very sorry for your loss. i truly get it losing our pooch suddenly at ten years old too.
Hard to believe Spirit and Stella were both 10. What special souls. I miss little Spirit too. Love you xx
Goodness, I cried reading this because I totally understand the bond we form with our furry friends. It’s a bond like no other. My partner passed away 2 years ago, and the pain of that loss knocked the wind out of my sails. My little furry friend Charlie helped me through that time. He was my constant companion. He knew when I needed that little extra love, and he would make me laugh when all I wanted to do was cry. I’m so very sorry for your loss my friend. Big love and hugs from Charlie and me.
Julie, I’m sending you and Charlie the biggest hugs back!! 💛 Thank you. Love you x
Stella was and still is a beautiful soul. I am so sorry for this huge loss, my heart breaks for you and your husband. I too have similar relationships with my six fur angels, Roxie, Pixel, Porsche, Bodhi, Grayson and KoKo. We are all sending you love and wishing Stella a beautiful journey forward.
How beautiful that you’ve have six fur angels 💛 Lucky dogs to have you as a momma 🙂 Love you Gail x
What a beautiful heartfelt tribute to Stella!!! She would be so proud and so happy to know the intensity of her impact on your lives!!! And now ours!
Princess was my 19 year old cat who we had to put down in Dec. You met her when we shot in my loft with Honey. I gave her her forever home and then she moved with me to LA for a few months and then here to Nola with my fiancé… to my forever home! Ben got me a kitten when he proposed and gave me the ring but I often call her Princess, out of habit. I love her but I will always miss and be grateful to my Princess cat 🐾🐾 for staying at my side from Brooklyn to LA to Nola. Im sure Stella will be missed and her message understood and well appreciated!!!!! I love your writing Adele and Im so sorry for your loss!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
Precious Princess!! I remember of course. What a beautiful story. I’m so glad she made it to NOLA and knew your new love 🙂 And what an incredible man to give you a kitten…along with a new beautiful unfolding chapter ahead. So happy for you Wendy! You are a blessing in my life. Thank you for your love and friendship and creative inspiration…! Big hugs xoxo
Adele, this is beautiful. When Lena died I was completely shattered. She died one month shy of her 15th birthday and I had her since she was 3 months old. She was my third child as my son used to say. She was diagnosed with Cushing’s in December 2015 and died in the ER February 19, 2016. I had gone home at 2am,thinking I would be picking her up in the morning, but she went into respiratory distress and I got the call at 5am. They held the phone to her ear while I told her over and over how much I loved her…I forgot that she was deaf. When I brought her little body home an hour later I walked around the garden with her, all the places she loved to explore. I let the other dogs see her so they knew that she was gone. After leaving her at my vet’s to be cremated, I spent the rest of the day sleeping with the others, I just could not stay awake knowing she would not be there when I opened my eyes. The pain of losing her still paralyzes me to this day. I saw signs at first, the white butterflies, songs that I used to pick her up and dance around the house with, sometimes I could smell the lotion they washed her with before I picked her up that horrible morning, and I would see her in the clouds. She was the dog of my heart, my precious little angel. It has gotten better, I don’t cry all the time anymore, and I still have room in my heart for the other dogs I have. My husband surprised me with a puppy 10 days after Lena died and although I was furious with him, she did save me. I had to get up and take care of her instead of laying on the couch with my other two boys crying. Sibbie is not like Lena at all, she is independent, fresh and stubborn. Lena was so small she couldn’t jump on or off furniture, Sibbie has horsey legs and can fly onto anything. Lena was always good, sweet, never jealous, even after my first grandson was born and I was over the moon in love with him. She knew that no one could ever take her place in my heart. Seeing your pictures of Stella reminds me of how I could take her anywhere, even where she was not allowed. I know how heartbroken you both are, but it does get easier, I promise. The memories will begin to bring smiles instead of tears and your heart will open up to another…it won’t be the same, but it will help.
Dear Joan, this is such a beautiful story. I have tears in my eyes. Thank you so much for sharing about sweet little Lena. Stella also had Cushing’s disease and that tumor on her pituitary is what got out of hand. We were told it was a manageable disease, but have heard horror stories like yours as well. I’m so very sorry. But how wonderful that Sibbie has come into your lives. You are right, we can’t replace the ones that came before, but these new precious souls bring more love in their own way. I’m sending you and your tribe much love 🙏🏼💕
Hello Adele, although we have never met…I could feel of your spirit. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt feelings of the animal/human connection we share. The unconditional love they have for us is the truest love. I believe its why dog spelled backwards is GOD…he made them for us, to hopefully be blessed to have a life as wonderful that you were able to provide. Sending hugs to both you and Chris. I have alway’s had a connection to animals and nature since a child and animals also grew up with 5 children…they are a continuation of a great tender friendship that will last forever and yes…there will alway’s be signs from here and beyond the veil. The book “Embraced by the Light” is beautiful and we will see our loved ones and beloved pets we loved in this life again. Sending hugs! Love, Marianne Snyder (Chris Glatis cousin) We share the same grandfather!!!
Hi Marianne! Thank you so much for reaching out and sharing these heartfelt words. Yes, I also believe we reconnect with our beloved pets again. I can feel sweet Stella around even now. Love that you and Chris share the same grandfather! Beautiful. Big hugs x
Hope you are feeling well and I hope you enjoy your new year.
We have been Lucky enough to have a continuous parade of dogs of all shapes and sizes throughout the years. We have had mutts and pure breds and they all have been family members. Joboo, Brian’s blood hound I know was a reincarnated person. He had a big ole throne chair he would sit on and watch life go by.
But if you dared walk into the house and not acknowledged him, he would let you know with al loud Ra ra”. Then you had to go over and give him some love and he would be satisfied.
My most recent loss was about a year ago . His name was “Lloyd Christmas Lenfant . Lloyd was a weenie dog. He was , small but tough as nails and stubborn as they came .
But he loved the family. He was always right in the middle of the action when the family was here. He was front and center in the baby pool on the hot summer days and loved snuggling up with you with one of his sweaters to keep him warm and fashionable . He was 17 when he died. He got Addison disease and that’s difficult because he would pee constantly. So he ended up in diapers. Even though he was my daughters dog he ended up living with me. It got very hard in his last days and I find that you form a special bond when you take care of someone in their last stages. He got so sick but absolutely didn’t want to give up. He got to where he couldn’t even stand up . Finally one day when he keep falling over I had to make the terrible decision . to let him go. WFortunately he got to enjoy one more family party a couple of days before he passed. He was out in the yard watching the kids and sniffing around for food and he was truly happy . He was great dog and I loved him dearly . RIP Lloyd Christmas Lenfant. 😇😇😇
I’m so sorry to hear about Lloyd Christmas Lenfant 🙏💗 Sounds like a sweetie and a little character lol. I remember your mom loved dogs, and would feed them pasta HA. Lucky dogs! I miss her. Speaking of a character. Much love and happy new year! ❤️