Meditation Monday: Determining the Next Step During Difficult Times

Ginger still loves to greet visitors with Sonny even though she can’t see them.

Do I dare

Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will
For I have known them all already, known them 
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying from a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room,
     So how should I presume?
T.S. Eliot
Excerpt from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

In our personal life and work, we often get the advice to focus on the next step in front of us.  The problem is that determining the next step isn’t always easy.

Nicholas with Ginger
Nicholas with Ginger, taking a nap together

A tough personal situation in my life at this time, is what to do with our little dog Ginger.

She has had many medical problems over the last two years, and continues to show signs of decline, including blindness, diabetes, incontinence, and neurological problems.

At the same time, she still wags her tail, loves to eat and follows me around. Taking care of her is expensive, messy and heartbreaking. My oldest son wants me to put her down now, but my youngest son, Nicholas wishes for a miracle.

I was talking to a fellow life coach this morning about my situation.  We’ve partners in a class we’re taking together. She recently put her beloved cat to sleep who was quite sick, and had made her decision to do this in the same way that I had once done with a beloved cat of mine.  She asked her cat to let her know when it was ready to let her go, and give her as sign.  I had forgotten that I had done that.

As we know, animals don’t communicate with us in the same way that humans do.  In my case, I had been watching my cat’s health steadily declining as he battled cancer for a few years. He  no longer wanted to sit near me or on my lap, but still loved to go outside and would crawl into dark spots in the bushes or sit at the base of trees and watch people walk by the house that I lived in on the north side of Chicago.  Since he was a black cat, he was often hard to see in his hiding places.

One day, as I sat our sat on our front porch watching him, I asked him in my mind, please Charlie, that was his name, tell me when it is time to go.  Within five minutes, my cat crawled back from where he was sitting, climbed up the stairs to the porch and jumped on to my lap.  I can still remember this day as if it was yesterday, even though it was over 15 years ago.

A few days later, when I took my cat to the vet, he was so afraid and struggled in his final moments, even though I had that strong sense that he was ready for this.  I was nine months pregnant at that time and gave birth to my first son, two weeks later.  I cried so much that our veterinarian ended up donating money to a cancer foundation for cats on behalf of Charlie.

For the longest time, I wondered if I had made the right decision, if I had presumed incorrectly.  I just didn’t know.  I had expected to get a sign from him that he was ok, the same way that I did at my grandmother’s funeral.  I felt her spirit telling me that she was in a better place.  With Charlie, I felt nothing.  I felt nothing for years.

Fast forward to about five years ago, I was in Birmingham, England on a work assignment and a friend of mine talked me into visiting a psychic who supposedly could contact the dead.  A month before then, my father had just died, and I was curious about him.  I had been with my father in his final moments, and I felt that he was at peace.

What the psychic said about him rang true, but it was at the end of our discussion that she surprised me the most.  I asked her if she could contact pets as well.  She told me that my grandmother who was with us, had said to tell me that his name is Charlie.  I nearly fell out of my chair, when she said his name.  The psychic had no way of knowing his name, and then she said, he really loved his food. Charlie looked like a giant black bowling ball much of his life.  I started crying, and asked her if he forgave me for putting him to sleep.  She said all was well, and that he was always with me, watching over me.  After that time, I started feeling his presence with me often.

This morning, as I talked to my coaching friend about Ginger, I told her about Charlie. She said, why don’t you ask Charlie to help you.  At that moment, I felt his presence come to me, and knew that he would help me in the weeks to come.

I don’t have an answer of what to do with my little Ginger yet. But I do have a sense that something larger us redeems our decisions, whether they are right or wrong, when we make them with deep and sincere love in our hearts, all becomes well. And when we let go of our preconceived ideas about how life is supposed to be, we can experience the love that never really leaves us.

Weekly Contemplation:

Do you have any special ways that you determine your next step during difficult times?


13 thoughts on “Meditation Monday: Determining the Next Step During Difficult Times”

  1. I do Karen. I pray. The answers when stressed don’t come freely and easily clear. I do my best when stressing to become still and in stillness come answers that I can accept even when the question like with your dilemma has no perfect answer. I pray that you and Ginger will know the love that bind you both is from the eternal source.
    ~ Eric


  2. I pray also, I also try to line things up in a time effective manner, if theres a lot to do in a little bit of time. Do what takes energy when I have it, and what requires patience when I have it. Or in the order of importance.

    I have only had to put one animal down, and I didn’t really make the decision, it was more the vet, but it ended up okay I guess. It’s just hard, no matter what. I had one dog who I knew might be departing, I just had that gut feeling and I held him and just prayed for him to feel no pain, to be happy, and know how much I loved him. I just held him and prayed over him non stop. I prayed that if God was going to take him from me that he would send angels, and I believe thats what helped me accept the loss. It was still painful, is no matter what.


    1. Aaron,

      I love the prayer you gave to your dog to feel no pain, to be happy, and know how much you loved him. I am going to do that with Ginger, and suggest my sons do as well.

      Thanks so much for your comment!


  3. That’s such a hard one. I went through it with my most soulmate cat as he declined. I wanted him to be ready but not to suffer because I delayed. I took him to the vet a few times thinking they’d tell me it was time but each time they gave me something else to do for him. A few weeks later he died while lying quietly next to me. So tough to decide which way — I think you’re right, if you’re choosing with love and listening for what feels best in the situation you’ll always choose the best thing.


  4. i am just now getting caught up a bit, Karen, so it’s possible that as the week has moved forward you’ve had more of a sense of direction with sweet Ginger. I am so sorry to hear that she is in enough decline that you are needing to put so much thought into what may be “next steps” in caring for her. This can be such a painful time. I love the information that you were given by your friend, to let her tell you, and to perhaps enlist Charlie in giving you some support I don’t know what form that will take for you, but it’s a really wise suggestion, I think. I do rely on intuition a lot for decision making. Often I can, and do make decisions very quickly. But I think the most important decisions need time. And if I pray and meditate on my decision, I tend to feel the guidance I need. I really hope that Ginger continues to wag her tail and that you’ll just know when you get to that time. I really feel for you and the boys. ox


    1. Thanks Debra, I deeply appreciate your comments. Well, so far, she is still wagging her tail and I don’t feel her telling me that she is ready to go yet. So, I’m following that advice, and waiting for more clarity.



  5. A very moving post Karen. And I find it fascinating that I came upon this post from last week today, just after posting about the lessons my blind dog has been teaching me (on my other blog). So many layers of wisdom to be uncovered, isn’t there? Thank you for this wonderful piece. And may you and Ginger communicate together about the right time. May I be as blessed with my own pets as well. Blessings, Gina


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