Question: Our cat Josie, which we’ve had for 17 years, crossed “The Rainbow Bridge” last week. I was a stay-at-home mom, so Josie and I had a heart bond that’s difficult to describe. I loved her so much and every time I think of her I cry. My kids and my husband tell me I’m being too sentimental and want to take me to an animal shelter to get another cat. I’m not ready for that.
Two questions: Will we see our pets after we die? How can I get my kids and husband to stop asking me to get another cat? ~ Missing Josie
Dear Missing Josie,
You are right; we form a bond with our pets that is meaningful and irreplaceable. The grief that comes in losing them is genuine and often deeply felt.
To answer your second question, I would simply communicate with your kids and husband that you still feel the loss as an irreplaceable one. In time, I am sure you will find your heart drawn toward getting another pet. But the timing and process of grief can be different for each person; we should do our best to honor one another and seek better ways to give them comfort. I am certain that your family only means to give you comfort in their suggestions – take their words as expressing their care for you.
Regarding your first question – my short answer is that I hope so. Throughout Scripture, the imagination of the prophets and writers turns toward a recovery of creation (often called “new creation” or “new heavens and new earth”). Some imagine a time after time when the lion will lay down with the lamb. It seems the hope is that creation as we know it will be remade while retaining its familiarity. And that includes the created flora and fauna that bring us joy and companionship.
So my hope is that, indeed, the love we share with our pets (and certainly with one another) will be sustained into the life that extends beyond us. And that we can find comfort in knowing that the love we give and receive will also be there for us in that time beyond.
Rev. Kyle Sears
Dear Missing Josie,
I think a lot of people don’t realize that animals are very intuitive and psychic while offering a special unconditional love bond with us. Josie was as much a part of your family as your kids and husband, and we feel that deep, inconsolable grief for our furry family members as well.
Don’t think of it as replacing Josie; you can never do that. All you can do is to help another homeless cat or kitten by giving them a loving home and establishing a bit different kind of bond. I believe that, when you are ready, it is possible to attract a new pet that has Josie’s spirit within. You’ll know and feel it when you see him or her.
Meanwhile Josie may visit you in your dreams and there are times when you can look out of the side of your eye and see her. She is on another plane of existence that makes it difficult for you to see her but she will always be with you – in spirit and in your heart – and may even want you to help another fur baby.
I think it also may help to talk to Josie; pets who have crossed over the Rainbow Bridge may be able to hear and understand words, and especially thoughts, even much better than when they were on earth.
Josie is pain-free and happy; I know Josie wouldn’t want to see you crying over her, so keep talking to her and cherishing that special bond you had with her. Share your happy memories together with her – animals understand images better than words. All you have to do is picture her, as if she was really there physically, and send your thoughts and images to her. Then close your eyes and see if you can see her answer back to you.
Your family is feeling a need to help you through your tears and may be unable to understand the depth of your grief. By suggesting you get another cat immediately they are trying to take away your pain and get you to focus on another animal. The happiness you feel in communicating with Josie will relieve your human family’s pain and allow you the time you need to be ready in your heart to rescue another furry soul.
Question: Both of my parents have doctorates – my dad in biology and my mom in education. Both of them are college professors. They want me to go to college but I’d rather get a vocational education in food preparation. Since I was very young, I helped my parents prepare meals.
When I was 15 (I’m now 17), I took over all of the meal planning and meal preparation, including grocery shopping for our family, because my parents were very busy with their jobs, and I love to cook! At some point, I’d also like to open an upscale restaurant serving only quality foods.
I’ve researched cooking schools and found several good schools. We’re not arguing about what I’d like to do but they’re constantly reminding me that they’d like me to begin looking at colleges. I’m getting very close to decision-making time with one more year in high school. Please help me find a way to let them know their support means everything to me. ~ Future Chef
Dear Future Chef,
I have no doubt, based on your focus, vision and passion, that you will one day realize and accomplish your dream to become a renowned chef with your own acclaimed restaurant. How you may get there, is not always as clear-cut as we may imagine at the time we set our goals.
While all of our lives are an adventure, every life is made up of many mini-adventures. Some are positive, some less so. But each of these mini-adventures, positive or negative, good or bad, happy or sad, contribute to our growth, awareness and understanding of what it is to live and be a human being. Likewise, these mini-adventures can take us down paths we might never have considered or been aware of, altering the course of what we expected or imagined our life is or would be in ways that can be life-changing either through enriching and fulfilling us, disappointing us or somewhere in the middle.
In many ways, you are fortunate. You are on the cusp of what I consider the Age of Exploration with your life, with all its potentialities and possibilities before you. I can appreciate your eagerness to get started; and after years of academics, you are probably anxious for your life to finally begin by doing something you find creative and enjoyable. With continued faith in your vision and perseverance in the face of challenges or disappointments, you will get there. You can be assured of that.
As for convincing your parents to underwrite a culinary school over college, take it as but one exercise in the continuing and ongoing needed life skill of negotiation. The good news is that, no matter how it turns out, you will get better at it. Even if they say no, you are still free to reorient your approach to your goal. In this, I would encourage you in going forward to refuse to fall prey to either imagined fears or imagined limitations either created by yourself or imposed by others.
However, I should like to put something on the table for your consideration that I hope you will find of value. It is regrettable that getting a higher education today has become nothing more than a form of vocational training or a search for status, often not affordable and sadly unattainable for many. As human beings, we are all born into ignorance. Indeed, this is the true original sin of mankind. All of the evils in this world – the prejudices, the fears, the hatred, the deceptions and the manipulations by others and every act of sin – is all the result of ignorance. The only cure for ignorance is education. The true purpose of a higher education (beyond the “three Rs”) is to open us into becoming fulfilled and fully functional human beings, able to think and reason critically and to open us to new experiences we might never have known or thought possible through a guided exposure to art, literature and science. An education not only helps to protect us from our own stupidity and that of others, but opens us to compassion for others by recognizing in them our very selves, and the limitations and unrealized potentials we all share. A good higher education frees us from the inherit tyranny and mental incarceration of ignorance.
An ignorant man (no matter what degree of ignorance) is not a free man. He is the ready prey of the deceptions imposed by others that seek to control him and manipulate his actions for money and/or power. I once told my sainted Irish grandmother I was not planning to go to college. She looked at me and said you come from a people who were denied an education in Ireland by the English just because they were Irish. An education is the one thing no one can ever take from you. They can take away your land, your good name and even your physical freedom. But the one thing they can never take from you is your education. An education is the gift you give yourself. It uplifts not only you but also the world, and that will become your gift to humanity.
She then said, “You are going to college.” I did and, to this day, I value it as one of the most priceless, ongoing gifts I ever received. Don’t cheat yourself. Personally, I find philosophy is the perfect accompaniment to any fine meal.
Anthony Kelson, RScP
Dear Future Chef,
I can appreciate your desire to follow your heart and do what you love to do, which is preparing meals and cooking. Many people go through life either not knowing what they genuinely love to do or believing that doing what they love could never bring them the contentment and financial security they would need, so they bypass it altogether. Does your decision to pursue a career as a chef have to be mutually exclusive? There is a point where you can strike a balance between pursuing your dream and being practical.
Henry David Thoreau said it best: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
Along with loving to cook, you said that you would want to open an upscale restaurant. Establishing a successful business takes a keen understanding of many industry aspects. Not only is cooking and menu development crucial, but so are also developing a business plan, targeting your market, management and advertising, along with securing the finances to support your business, either by your own means or arranging for investors.
My first suggestion would be to take your idea of being a chef to the next level and make it more tangible. First, I would recommend getting a job in a restaurant. Explore firsthand what it is like to be involved in the food industry on a day-to-day basis to really see if it’s something you would like to be involved with. Preparing meals at home for your family is one thing; working during rush hour mealtime or when business is slow is a whole different scenario.
Additionally, if you want the best advice, ask the one that’s doing it. Seek out a couple of restaurants that you admire and speak with the chefs and restaurant owners. Ask them what they had to do to create their business and what their key to success has been. Don’t forget to inquire about the pitfalls they suggest avoiding.
Finally, your parents are offering you a wonderful opportunity to go to college and it should not be dismissed. Along with exploring the various chef schools, research the colleges that provide curriculums that will support your chef aspirations and business designs. You just may find one that attracts your interest.
It has been said that when we desire something, it is not having that “something” we truly want but instead the feeling “that something” brings us. It sounds as though preparing meals brings you joy and fulfillment. Use your imagination to paint the picture of the life that you want. The key is to clearly know and state what you want to create for yourself. The great principle of life will respond.
Pray on that and your best decisions will become evident.
Rev. Mary Morgan