This solo episode is about death and perspective, as it relates to what I learned from the recent passing of my dog Raja 🙁
Fair warning – this episode contains some raw emotions. I wanted to express some of the things I experienced, so thank you for holding space with me.
Welcome back folks, Ali here with another solo episode. Today I've got a unique message from the heart in a more somber tone. This episode is about death and perspective as it relates to the recent passing of my dog Raja. I wrote a quick blog post tribute for her, but I also felt the need to share this in audio form so that I could express some of the emotions and a bit more of this story and what I learned from this.
So here we go. Last month my family and I had to say goodbye to our 11 year old dog Raja. She was a huge part of our family. She was a huge part of our story in moving to Colorado and growing up. Ah, see, I can already feel, ah, feel the emotion.
So both me growing up as an adult, growing up in my relationship with Gabrielle and growing up as sort of this father figure that has to be responsible for something else besides myself. So you can probably sense.
Uh, she holds a big place in my heart. The brief version of her passing is that she passed peacefully in our bed with Gabrielle and I by her side. There's a longer backstory leading up to her death, but I don't think I have the strength to share all that.
What's important is that she lived an awesome life. She was in her old age, so it was time, and she touched many lives and brought a lot of joy to the world. We adopted Raja as a rescue pup. She slept with us every night. And just to reiterate, she definitely felt like a part of our family in every sense of the word.
So getting into the death piece. This was my first experience up close with death. To rewind a bit I knew it was happening the afternoon she started showing symptoms. I could feel it in my gut and my heart. What's funny is my mind didn't wanna believe it, but I knew it was coming by the way she was behaving and just the way my body was responding to her actions.
And so we decided to keep her at home where we thought she'd be comfortable. I looked at her up to our bed for one last night with us. And she actually woke us minutes before her heart stopped breathing. It's as if she wanted to say goodbye to us. She was too weak to move, but she made enough of a noise to signal for Gabrielle and I to wake up. And I held her as she took her final breaths.
Oh, this was so surreal holding this animal that I loved, that I spent 11 years with and feeling her heart stop beating. Wow. As the tears roll down my face now it just reminds me of how powerful that experience was. I was in complete disbelief for several minutes and then a rush of heavy sadness moved through my body. I remember looking at Gabrielle and sensing her reaction and knowing like, wow, this just happened.
And then I let everything out. I haven't cried like that in years, it was intense. It was another example of my body taking over and just doing what it needed to do, which was release that emotion.
And grief is if is extremely powerful. I haven't felt that in years, like I said, and so it was this heavy and persistent state of grief for three to four days. You know, there was no way to fight through this. I had trouble focusing on anything else besides thinking about her and replaying the final hours. And we had a lot of love and support from family and friends. Some of the best advice was the simplest advice that only time will heal. And that was so true.
You know, I needed to work through this my way to really feel it. And I did. Nothing seemed important during that time, besides honoring Raja's life. We looked at pictures together as a family. We watched movies of her as a puppy. I wrote a tribute blog post, like I mentioned earlier to really memorialize her. And that felt like exactly what I needed to do in those moments.
One thing that also really stood out was the cost of attachment. This is something I mentioned to Gabrielle shortly after Raja stopped breathing and I was consumed by the heavy sadness and emotion. I actually wrote a blog post about this, which you can check out if you wanna learn more about some of my thoughts there, but the high level is that the cost of attachment is the price we pay when we lose something we're attached to.
And almost everything has a cost when we become attached to it. There's this trade off of attachment, like do we become attached to things like a dog. Is it worth it? Especially you start thinking about that now, whether a loved one or a pet passes, you start to question the attachment. Is it worth this pain? Is it worth this sadness? You know, do I want to go through that again?
And in heavy periods of grief, it's easy to think. No, I wanna protect myself. I don't want to feel this again. But what I realized is that it's absolutely worth it. The emotions we feel, love, joy, connection, grief, sadness. This is all part of the human experience.
And so having the attachment to Raja was amazing. And I wouldn't trade that for anything, you know? It's interesting too. I had more grief from Raja's passing than the passing of my own grandmother a couple years back. And while it's easy to have some guilt there or question like, ah, that kind of seems off or shitty, I was simply more attached to Raja. She was a bigger part of my everyday life. And so the cost of that attachment was much heavier than the cost of the attachment to my own grandmother.
One final thing here to really emphasize this is how much death puts things into perspective.
First and foremost, what I felt from this was this polarizing lens of what's really important and meaningful, and what's not. So after the grieving period, in which case I could only focus on sort of Raja and memorializing her, I came out of it with a new sense of focus and just thinking about. Where do I want to be spending and investing my time? Who do I want to be investing into?
I connected with my band members and something that they shared was this awesome quote what's important now? And I thought that was perfect. Death can remind us of that and maybe we need to remind ourselves more often, but death definitely makes it crystal clear.
What is important and meaningful. I also think it shows us how impactful love and connection is in our lives and that we need that as humans. It's a big part of what makes us thrive is having connection to others, sharing experiences with them, giving and receiving love. And whether it's a dog, whether it's a family member, it all starts to blend with how we connect as beings in this life. So death again, makes that really, really clear.
Lastly, it's a shocking reminder that time is not infinite. This can be something that we overlook or hear, but don't really take seriously. We truly have one life and how we use it, what we prioritize is important.
A couple quick quotes that come to mind, "death waits for no one." I thought that's pretty powerful is that there is no stopping death. And to that effect, another quote in the same vein, "we're all slowly dying," which is so true.
It, it's a bit more morbid to think of life that way, but it's our reality, is that we are all slowly dying. And I think honoring quotes like this, or at least feeling into them can give us a polarizing sense of reality that we often need from time to time.
Lastly, while death is often scary and sad, it can also provide us with some gifts.
Raja gave me several gifts with her passing, which include a reminder to pay attention to the little things. I realize now that I can often be too distracted to see what's right in front of me. And so I appreciate her for kind of using her death and some of the events that led up to it. To say, "Hey buddy, pay attention. Sometimes the small things matter."
She also gave us a blessing to move on from Colorado to our next home, our next environment. This is a decision, my family and I have been contemplating for years now. Many of you who know me are up to speed on that. And her being gone leaves a big void in our home.
It's truly not the same without her. Raja was part of us growing and starting a phase of our life in Colorado. And now it feels like it's time to close that chapter. It feels complete. And I don't know that this home will ever feel the same without her.
So, the final thing or the final like realized gift is a token of how important relationships are.
Roger was a huge part of my life. And I feel like there were times where I took our relationship for granted, especially later in her life. When our children came and I was too tired or lazy to take her for a walk or play with her. I don't have any regrets. I do think that I sort of lost focus of just how valuable her relationship was to me.
And so now I'm refocused on strengthening some of the important relationships in my life and really making the most of them and not wasting anymore time.
So in summary, death is one of the most powerful human events. I experienced that. It can also evoke emotions that we rarely feel or never even knew existed, like grief. And in that sense, I think it teaches us a lot about ourselves.
So I will leave you with one question here to ponder on, and that is "what is something you've learned about yourself from experiencing death?"
Until the next time.
Ali is a father, husband and serial entrepreneur with a deep drive to create. He writes, records, codes and builds things to inspire the artist in all of us.