As a Reiki Practitioner, I rarely work with young, healthy animals. Most of my feline (and canine) clients suffer from degenerative diseases. Some are terminally ill. Reiki can help bring healing and balance to these animals by reducing stress, providing pain relief, alleviating side effects of conventional treatments, and strengthening the immune system.
Unfortunately, working with older animals also makes it inevitable that eventually, I’m going to lose these clients. The experience of losing an animal client is unique. It’s different from losing my own cats, but it hurts nevertheless.
Today, Belle, a beautiful 15-year-old dilute tortie and one of my long term Reiki clients, died suddenly. She had a normal morning. After finishing her second breakfast (Belle loved her food!), she had settled for a nap in the bedroom. When her guardian walked in a few moments later, she was gone.
I had been working with Belle for over five years. Initially, I went to see her because she had mild asthma. After regular Reiki sessions (usually, about once every three weeks,) her guardians were able to stop her medications. Last December, she had a series of seizures, the cause of which was never found. We started doing weekly Reiki sessions, and Belle had been doing well. Belle was also treated by homeopathic veterinarian Andrea Tasi of Just Cats Naturally. The combination of Reiki and homeopathy seemed to provide perfect synergy for her. She had not had any seizures for a long time.
Belle was unique among my cat clients. This beautiful girl was my poster child for the ideal feline Reiki session. A few minutes into each session, she was usually purring, and shortly after that, she always drifted off to sleep. She moved houses three times in the years I worked with her, so the places where we did her session varied. In one house, we did sessions on the screened in porch during the summer months (mostly because once Belle had settled on her favorite chaise on the porch, there wasn’t much that would get her to move) and in front of the fireplace in the winter.
In her most recent home, all of our sessions took place on her guardians’ bed. But not just on the bed: Belle had an addiction to shopping bags. Just laying on the soft comforter wasn’t good enough. She had to have a paper shopping bag to rest on. She wasn’t crazy about brand new bags, either. Most of her bags were “well loved” and shredded just so to make the purrfect bed.
A few weeks ago, Belle started spending more time in a second home her guardians purchased, which was located far outside my usual radius for in home treatments, so we started doing remote treatments. I missed actually being with Belle physically, but her lovely energy was just as palpable during a remote session.
The plan was that Belle would still spend some time in the home closer to me before moving away permanently, and I had planned on visiting her in her new home at some point, even though I couldn’t get out there for regular sessions. I certainly never thought that I’d never see her again.
Losing a cat client is a unique experience. It’s different from losing one of my own cats, but it hurts nevertheless. In Belle’s case, it’s hitting me hard.
Since I work one-on-one with my clients, often over a long period of time, a bond forms very quickly. Of course it’s not the same bond I have with my own cats, but it’s a strong attachment nevertheless. I get to know these cats, and their guardians, and I grow to love them. I celebrate when they feel better, and I worry when they get worse. A Reiki session is a pretty personal experience, and in the process of working with these cats in their homes, in such an intimate setting, I don’t just bond with the cat, I also get to know and like the cat’s guardian. When the cat dies, it’s not just the connection with the cat that’s severed for me; the connection with the client also ends, or, at the very least, changes.
This is part of this work I’ve chosen to do. I try to support the cat’s guardian in their grief, and I cry a few tears myself. I’m comforted by the knowledge that even though I wasn’t able to delay or prevent death, my Reiki sessions contributed to better health and quality of life for my feline client.
And I tuck the memory of Belle, and all the others, into a special corner of my heart.