Death Will Be No More
God cares even about the death of a beloved pet:
Death is a normal part of life – at least in a fallen world. But the good news is, a fallen world is not normal – it is not God’s intention. So death is also abnormal. While we all die in this life, the good news for the Christian is that those who are reconciled to God through Christ will avoid death as an end, but will live with God forever. Death will be no more.
As we read in Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” That is such wonderful news.
But until then, we do live with pain and suffering and heartache and tears and death. That is life in this world. And losing a family member or loved one or close friend can be very hard indeed. But there are other types of death, including that of our beloved pets. That too can be quite grievous.
Given that we have just gone through this a few hours ago, allow me a bit of a personal story. If that is not your cup of tea, feel free to stop reading now, or skip through to the end! But for those who know what this is like, you may find something of benefit here.
Our beloved Daisy, a Border Collie cross, was 16 ½, which is doing pretty good. She especially loved balls and sticks, and was not unknown to carry around 6 or 8 sticks at a time, or several balls in her mouth. But of course age catches up with dogs as well as humans. She had been going downhill for at least a year and a half, and I just remembered that I wrote about this back then: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2021/06/30/dealing-with-decay-dying-and-death/
She may have had a few seizures or strokes or heart attacks or something back then, but she was never quite the same after that. Her fast walks and plays came to an end. And up until recently I could still take her for walks, but very slow walks. But 6-year-old Jilly wanted to race ahead. When both were on leashes, I would feel I was being torn asunder, with one lagging behind while the other was seeking to speed ahead.
But we managed. However her hind legs were clearly getting worse. And just recently she would just collapse fairly often, whether from fainting, or from her legs giving way. We would let her sit there for a bit, then try to help carry her back to a good spot. Walking or just standing was really getting to be difficult for her during the past few days.
And she even started to lose interest in food and drink – now that is getting serious! My wife has worked as a zoo keeper and vet assistant, so she knew what was happening. The old questions of do you seek to have her put down, or let her naturally leave us, or hope she might improve of course came to mind.
We tended to take turns in looking after her, as I am a night person while my wife is a morning person. And last night was a rough night. During the past year or two she has taken to laying/sleeping in the front hallway, so we had a sleeping bag there for her.
Last night at midnight she got up but only made it a few steps but then collapsed again, near the front door. We have had quite cold and wet weather of late, so I tried to put blankets and things in front of the door to block the cold air blowing in on her. I covered her with blankets as well, but did not like her laying there on the cold hard floor. But as she is a largish dog, I did not try to lift her just then.
So I got some cushions and pillows and laid them next to her, and I laid on them, keeping her company for nearly two hours. It was not comfortable being on the cold hard floor, but I knew it was uncomfortable for her being on the cold hard floor. I prayed that the Lord might take her.
So I stayed with her, lying by her side, patting her head and trying to comfort her. At one point I sensed the Lord saying that just as I was doing that to her, he does that to me, and to his other children. He cares about us and comforts and consoles us, and he does so by entering into our situation. He is not afar or aloof, but enters into our sufferings that he might comfort us – even when we may not know he is there.
Speaking of which, a social media friend had just earlier asked me if I ever felt God was absent or silent or seemed like a long way off. I said sure, often, and mentioned one piece I had written on this: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2019/03/28/divine-hiddenness-on-gods-silence/
While I could offer her that intellectual and theological help in the article, maybe what I went through last night would be of even more help to her. Anyway, I eventually pulled up a lounge chair and watched Daisy that way for a while. But then I tried to lift/carry her back onto her sleeping bag. I succeeded, and was quite glad she was further away from the front door, and was lying in a much softer and warmer place.
So I left her around 3am and went to bed. She was still there when my wife got up. But a few more attempts to walk resulted in her collapsing some more. So we talked and prayed some more and realised we might best just take her to the vet and let her go. So we booked an appointment for this afternoon.
The vet agreed to administer the injection in the car, which is a place Daisy always liked to be in. Of interest, after we managed to get her in the car and got to the vet, someone else had just pulled in before us and were doing the very same thing: having their dog put down. I tried to chat with them but they seemed too bummed to converse, instead smoking away on cigarettes.
And also of interest, our friendly neighbour from across the street just happened to come in as well, so she went to the car to talk to my wife briefly while I went in to talk to the vet. So a little bit of Daisy’s fur was shaved off, a vein was found, and a thingee was put in by a vet nurse, and then the vet administered the medication. We gave her a few treats to munch on, but within seconds she was fast asleep – never again to awaken.
Of course so many others go through the very same thing. It is always tough to see a loved pet be sent off. And it is of course so much worse when a human dies, be it a family member or what have you. I thought of what we would miss. Her sleeping bag will be picked up and washed and put away. Her eating bowl will not be needed.
Her pain-relief medicine will not be needed. That and other vet expenses will come to an end – although today’s bill was not exactly small! And she will no longer go for walks with us. Of course with my wife’s cancer this year, I have done all the walking and such things. My wife is sad that she missed out on those.
But now Jilly will have our full attention, along with our cat. Jilly had two solo fast walks today – that will be our new normal. I made my wife dinner, and instead of carefully giving each dog one plate to lick off, now Jilly had two of them to enjoy. So changes are already under way.
But as I say, imagine the pain and grief of a human death. Imagine losing a 15-year-old son or daughter. Imagine walking past their empty bedroom. Imagine going in and seeing the books, magazines, games, posters, awards and trophies. Fresh reminders every day of a lost child. The tears will keep flowing for a very long time.
So I realise that my tears compare little to such human loss. But pet losses are real losses nonetheless, and the tears are also real. And it is at a time like this that legit questions will arise, such as whether we will see our pets in heaven. But on that topic I wrote this piece a few years back: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2019/07/06/will-our-pets-be-with-us-in-heaven/
Anyway, to finish this rather rambling piece, when we got home, I opened a cheap bottle of bubbly so we could give Daisy a toast. We of course miss her dearly already. And the pain will last for a while. But I must return to where I began. The Christian has hope – real hope.
Whether or not we will see Daisy when we get to heaven is not clear. But we will see all the loved ones who had come to Christ, be they family members or friends or co-workers. We will be reunited with them, and best of all be reunited with our Lord. He too knew all about long lonely nights or prayer and hardship, including when his own disciples could not stay awake with him in Gethsemane.
In that final day death will be no more, and there will be no more tears. But in the meantime, one of my favourite Old Testament verses reminds us that we can have real comfort and hope now: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT).
Tears and sorrows, decay and death abound now. But they will one day come to a complete and final end. What good news that is.
In the meantime, bless you Daisy.
15 Replies to “Death Will Be No More”
I am so sorry to read of your sad loss of your dear Daisy.
I too know what it’s like to have a beloved pet put to sleep because of age and illness.
I takes a long time to get over particularly if it was sudden
I don’t think we ever really do
God bless you dear Bill and your wife and of course, Daisy.
Many thanks Janelle.
My condolences Bill.
Mark Rabich’s bestie Daisy will be sorely missed.
Truly man’s best friend!
My dad was a zookeeper when I was a boy. He had lots of birds and various animals at home and I went with him after school to feed those at the zoo. I had lots of different pets, which I had to feed and water each day. We are so blessed by animals and birds, etc. They certainly comfort and reward with their understanding, affection and a seeming knowing that allows them to remember you when you’ve been absent for a long time. What a blessing they are to us. I thank God for them. Vale Daisy and blessings to your household.
I know what you are talking about. We had Blackie our cat for 21 years and it got to the stage where she lost the use of her back legs and could no longer walk. I took her to the vet to have her euthanized. I was allowed to be there when it happened, and I cried. I am crying now to think about it.
What a heart rending event Bill. Our hearts go out to you and Mrs at this difficult time. We have a cat Thomas who loathes seeing us leave him when we go out and is right behind the door when he hears our car return. I know the feeling. Time is the only healing balm. We had to put Rufus our dog down when we could not take him with us due to restriction on transfer of pets at the time. It hurt so much I decided not to have a dog again. No doubt when the time comes for Thomas to go it will feel the same. We had no choice we inherited Thomas when his owner passed on. God Bless.
Love your story of Daisy passing.
You would have stirred many to come close to tears in remembering their own pets as I did recalling the loss if Esky our 17 year old Kelpie.
Good on you for sharing such real life experience and relating the feelings of Christian understanding of the animal world.
I said goodbye to my dog, Blackie, last March at the age of 15. Her younger sister had died unexpectedly from fast moving cancer 18 months prior so I knew I was living on borrowed time with her. We have a wonderful vet who comes to the house. Blackie had one really bad bout of doggie vertigo last fall, and thought maybe the time had come, but she rallied back. The vet would broach the subject with me every now and then, but I always told her my gut said “not yet.” (I also don’t believe in keeping a pet alive for the human owner.)
Blackie had a great 18 months and let me know after another vertigo bout that it was time to say goodbye one afternoon when I checked on her during lunch. I knew to my soul it was time now. The vet who travels “happened” to be 10 minutes away from my house (that never happens) and the cremation service “happened” to be only 5 miles away when he lives 1 hour away when I called. She even left me with a laugh. The vet gave her the first shot to relax her. Well, my girl Blackie relaxed so much she started snoring. As I laughed through tears at the vet’s reaction, I told her “Blackie snores. Always has.” And I thank her for leaving me with a laugh.
It is so hard to say goodbye, but we can smile in remembrance of the good times like the puppy play bows she would give to Misty to set them off chasing each other. Misty lived for those since she was always more active than Blackie was. Blackie knew the time was right to say goodbye so I would have time to find the next rescue pup who ended up being a 6 year old black lab whose face is so reminiscent of Blackie’s. (Blackie was a black flat coated retriever). I was also off work the next week so could give the new family member the time and love to help her get adjusted that first week.
If you can for anyone when a beloved pet dies, pass that love along to another rescue. That keeps the love alive.
Sorry to hear that, Bill. As a boy I grieved so badly for my dog when he was run over with a truck and killed, that I said I would never have another dog.
Of course, that changed when I married and had children, and it was again a very sad time for me and my family when we lost our beloved little dog.
I lost an aviary full of breeding budgies when I was at Uni. I had been working hard on the midnight oil getting essays done after a full day’s work. I was studying part time and faced long commutes to work. It was summer. I simply forget my budgies for a few days. Saturday morning, up to say hello to them…all gone! Stiff little bodies that last weekend were colourful chirpy pals of mine who flow over to me when I came to the aviary.
As stewards of this world (cosmos?) we are in a network of relationships of life: Yahweh created life; not death. Life resounds throughout his creation as it came from his hand (Ps. 8). But death intrudes. Once Adam turned from his creator, death came into the creation as its life-giver was rejected.
By contrast the young Christians at my local Uni are happy to tell me that God used death to create as he unleashed ‘Evolution’ and its inadequate billions of years of death and futility on his very good creation. They blithely tell me that animal death doesn’t matter (to God?).
The insanity and spiritual turpitude of the attitude that would make death inherent in the ‘very good’ creation for the reason only to allow the great ‘death-monger’ of Evolution to have its head!
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time [are] not worthy [to be compared] with the coming glory to be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creation was not willingly subjected to vanity, but because of Him who subjected [it] on hope
21 that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 And we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
23 And not only [so], but ourselves also, who have the firstfruit of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, awaiting adoption, the redemption of our body.
Are not five sparrows sold for two assaria? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
I have no doubt God intends to redeem all the parts of creation which do not offend and that may only includes the minority of mankind but it will include the majority of the rest of creation which, as originally created, was good. It was subjected to man’s vanity for a reason but it was mankind which sinned, not the rest of creation.
The idea that animals do not have souls is not supported by scripture. The same words translated as “soul” for humans are often translatedcas “life” for animals but it is the same Hebrew and Koine Greek terms used for both. (E.g. Rev 8:9 https://biblehub.com/greek/psuchas_5590.htm & Ezek 47:9 https://biblehub.com/hebrew/chaiyah_2416.htm).
I have no doubt God will be making all the created and redeemed things renewed – not replacing them with all new things (Rev 21:5). There is no reason for God to give up the things that are His (Psa 50:10).
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.
The plan is to redeem as much of creation as possible.
Thank you Bill for the lovely photos and article of your dog. I was wondering how she was going. She was a beautiful dog. I too had a little dog, Pippie that I treasured and God brought her back home to me 4 times when she got out of yard. Two times she was found on our 80km road so I was thankful that she didn’t get run over but when I had to go back to work I didn’t have time to look after her through day and didn’t realize a big cane toad was sitting in her drinking water each night and so she developed hallucinations and the vet said her heart was very enlarged so its best to put down a pet rather than see them suffer. Our other Jack Russel, Jake, lived another 6 months, whom we had had for 14 years, so they virtually died not too far apart but I will be more inclined now to use herbal treatments such as McDowell’s Herbals from Bathurst for flea, worm and tick treatments etc if we ever get more animals.
Many thanks guys.
My condolences to you Bill. I gone through this with 4 dogs and I haven’t had one since Sally. Just so hard to say goodbye after so many years. (she was put to sleep in 2009) (they each lived 10 1/3 years, 10 3/4 years, 22 months, 11 years 6 months 3 weeks) We speak fondly of them now. All but sneakers had a long life. He was a Westie and had a liver shut by the time we fixed it it was too late. I too believe we will see them again. God wouldn’t create such wonderful creatures and have us become so invested in them to lose the after a decade or two without returning them to us again where they will never leave again.
They are family. True they aren’t human but the bonds they form often surpass the bonds we form with other humans. On this side of heaven, so I’m excluding God from this statement, I never known a purer, more selfless, more devotional love than that of my dogs. (And I’m sure that extends to all pets) No quarreling, no anger, no withholding of affection, always caring about you. It’s a love no human, no matter how close or how related, can come close to. If any love on earth is close to God’s love it is their, our pets, love!
May God grant you both peace and reassurance in this time.