Dr. Bernie Siegel, Sam and Loss as a Spiritual Practice


This weekend, we had to put our beloved dog Sam down. At almost fifteen, he was ready to go. An amazing black English Lab, Sam knew how to retrieve pheasants, frisbees and balls but mostly he knew how to offer love and comfort to anyone who needed a friend.

Along with his younger nephew Jakie, Sam would often come to The Graduate Institute to support students in the Integrative Health and Healing program and attend meditation. Many students expressed that he and Jakie were a very special part of their TGI learning experience.

One class with Bernie Seigel, physician and author of many books on holistic healing including Love, Medicine & Miracle as well as Love, Animals & Miracles, Dr. Seigel spoke about the love and healing his own dog had given him after the loss of his wife.

“Dogs are healers. They are enlightened. They seem to have figured out how to live beautifully so much better than we humans have. While we struggle to figure out why we are put here on Earth, all a dog wants is to love and be loved – a powerful lesson for us all.”

Grieving is considered a non-linear process. For me, sadness comes in waves. When I walk into the house and Jakie is the only greeter there is a sense that something is wrong and my mind starts to tell me I should’ve done more to keep him alive.

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says that we live in a culture that denies death instead of seeing that it is sacred and a window into the formless dimension of reality. He states, “the natural way of being after the death of a loved one is suffering at first, then a deepening. You go to a place where there is no death.” He describes two levels, the form level reacts to loss as dreadful, the deeper level is sacred.


I am learning to live on the sacred level, holding the essence of my beautiful dog as I go. Thank you Bernie and Sam...


"In the garden of memory, in the palace of dreams...that is where you and I shall meet." Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

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