Today's topic is not the most fun subject, but it is a very real experience when living with individuals who have been rescued. Unfortunately, everybody dies at some point, and we are powerless to stop it. We want to share our experience with loss and how it has changed us.
When Phil and I started our sanctuary, we knew that loss would be something that we would encounter, however we really didn't plan much for it. In the year and a half that we have been doing this, we have lost 5 residents. Some were natural causes, and some were trauma from their previous situations. Each of them had come from different backgrounds, and each of them got to experience what love, autonomy, and freedom feels like.
Our first resident that passed was a beautiful girl named Alice. She was young, and very timid of humans, but when she found Barb, she was always with her. The few days that they spent together, you could tell she was opening up and trying to heal the trauma that had been done to her. I will never forget her little face, and how she would curl up with Barb to sleep at night. Her passing was the hardest for me to get through. She and the other residents that joined her, were all lovingly placed to rest in the yard so that they can rest in liberation.
Anytime a resident passes is a tremendous feeling of sadness, guilt, and anger at what happens to victims of exploitation on this planet. We question if we did enough to care for them and whether they were actually happy. We question, "should we even do this anymore?" We are impatient that humans continue to exploit victims despite the information and experiences that show that it is unnecessary. We shouldn't focus on the sadness of them being gone though, we should focus on the opportunity that the individual had to experience love, joy, friendship, and autonomy over themselves.
The most important thing about what we do, is that it is not about us; it is for the victims. Phil and I still are learning how to take ego out of our experiences, and think of different experiences about being for them. And death and grief is no different. We can feel sad, and we can remember them, but remember they were not here for us. They were here because of their own reasons. They were here with us, and their stories teach us to be better caretakers, and better advocates.