My dog Rufus passed yesterday.
He had end stage kidney failure. We wanted him to die a natural death, but believed in the end it would be more merciful to put him down. He couldn't stand up. He hadn't eaten in ten days. He hadn't drank water in one and a half. We think we saw him convulse once. We were worried. We think he was hanging on just for us.
We are handling it as we can. My family and I are in the throes of grief. So maybe this article is a bit too much too soon. But I would like to explore grief, the astrology of it, and some ways I am trying to make good out of it, even though good feels so very far away.
We've removed some of his objects from the house. I see him in the place where I put my shoes in case he needed to go out. I see him barking in his favorite spot in the backyard. I see him in the empty corner where his favorite bed should be. My mother moved it into the garage. But I am sure she still sees it too. But we do what we can to erase the pain. Sometimes it's important to wipe away the sadness that we can. And that is part of grief - community. We do what we can to make it easier on other people.
In this case - and in all cases - I would look towards Venus. Venus shows our love for our deceased one, but also our community and relationships (though this could also be found in specific houses and house rulers, like the fourth house, seventh house, eleventh house, etc).
Grief is sticky - you see it everywhere. Even in the most mundane things. In the case of a long death, you start grieving before your loved one is even gone. Some say the grieving period lasts a year - a full Solar return. Some say seven years - a Saturn cycle. But I think the permanence of grief is something I'd associate with Pluto. It never really goes away. It just gets easier to live. It just gets easier to manage.
Grief affects us in profound ways, because our relationship with our loved one affects us in profound, loving ways. Venus and Pluto. Tied together like Hades and Persephone.
I've had Pluto transiting my Venus for a three year period. My Venus is at 26 degrees Capricorn. It's interesting - nothing much happened. And the reason I think this is so interesting is because I think they cancel each other out. In Chinese astrology, Zi Wei Dou Shu, stars affect other stars. Different combinations of stars have different effects. Certain malefics can be negated by a positive or lucky star. The reverse is also true - the positive effects of one star can be negated or rendered void by a certain negative star. This is even evident in the elemental system - as there remains a mutual dissoulution cycle. (For example, if fire is melting metal, this can be negated if earth is present, since earth produces metal. )
(This information comes from The Chinese Astrology Workbook (page 81, to be exact) by Derek Walters. This is not sponsored or an affiliate link, I just like his work. His book The Chinese Astrology Workbook shows how to calculate Chinese charts by hand. The Complete Guide to Chinese Astrology: The Most Comprehensive Study Of The Subject Ever Published In The English Language, and Chinese Astrology are good resources on the background, history, and interpretation of Chinese astrology, also by Derek Walters. Though The Complete Guide to Chinese Astrology can be hard to find, I believe Chinese Astrology includes much of the same material and information.)
My point is - I think Pluto and Venus relatively render the other null and void. Perhaps we can attribute this to the sign (Capricorn), but I think it's worth playing around with. But I think that because Venus and Pluto are so intertwined, we can't help but see one in the other sometimes. So in grief, we can lean back on our community, and the love we have for the deceased. In our love, we can see our grief.
So grief is sticky and messy and hopeless and it feels like you're in a pit you can't climb out of. You can't escape it, even if you try. Seeing it everywhere, to me, is a combination of the Moon and Mercury. We can't stop thinking about it, we can't stop feeling, and it pours over into every aspect of our lives. The hopelessness is an important part to me - one that ties into despair and numbness. I think this is where Venus and Mars come in.
The Moon I would associate with rest. The same goes with the twelfth house and suffering. But Mars is action. When you're ready, it is important to keep moving. I'm not saying to get rid of all the stuff. I'm not saying to go on some big adventure (unless it is to honor the deceased) and upend your life. But there is a point with grief that cuts to the core - the importance of keeping moving. I'm not saying moving on. I'm saying keeping busy. Keeping a (somewhat) routine, if that is what sits right with you and your soul. This is a combination of discipline (Saturn), routine (Saturn), and Mars (action).
It is okay to wallow. It is okay to grieve. It is okay to join a kick boxing class to release all your pent up energy. Right now, I am keeping busy. Because if I stop to rest, all I do is think about him. So I can't stop. I can't pause. It is hard for me to rest.
And it is okay to cry. Cry and release. Emotions build up, like the Moon phases, until we just can't hold them in anymore.
This is why community and love in grief are so important. We need somebody to lean on, whether that is in grief counseling or in our relationships. Some people run from it. But as the astrology shows, we need all of the planets and placements to work through it.
So what am I doing about my grief?
I am writing. I wrote a list of all the things I loved about Rufus, and had learned from him (list includes being more patient, since he was patient and kind with us as we gave him his insulin shots. He never once acted out. It also includes spitting out bananas - because it was the first time we had ever seen a dog spit out anything - and because he hated them). I am writing out my anger. I am writing out my hurt. I am taking out my internal stress and agony onto the page. The list also includes his little habits I loved - like resting his head on your knee and snuggling with blankies.
I am setting goals. I want to be able to pick up 50 lbs. Towards the end of Rufus's life, he had ACL surgery and could not walk around much. However, he was a barrel chested boy and was unfortunately hard to pick up. (Think: Clifford the Big Red Dog.) In a three story house, that is hard. And we mostly had to confine him to one level, even though he wanted to walk up the stairs so badly. We just couldn't afford him falling again. He had originally fallen because his blood sugar had dropped. I never want to be in that position again. So I am making it a goal to be able to pick up 50 pounds.
I am not sticking to my diet. Fuck the diet. Now is not the time to be so hard on myself. I am eating what brings me comfort.
I am making sure I actually eat. This is why I'm not sticking to the diet. When I get really sad, I tend to shut down. I don't become that hungry. I know others do the opposite. That's why my priority is making sure I eat, whatever that may be. I want chocolate and soda and all the things that are bad for my body and good for my soul. A routine is important. I am trying to make sure I have some food during the day.
I am making a memory musuem. Towards the end of his life, I took a bunch of photos and videos. (Well, we have a bunch of photos and videos from over the years, thankfully.) I've created a shared album of all of our pictures of him. I got some videos of him wagging his tail when he still had the energy. I got videos of him barking in his favorite spot (we call it talking to his buddies). I am creating this post. I am making my own memorial to Roo in my own way.
I think the guilt is hard. Are we taking from God? Are we taking life? Or are we ending suffering? We sedated him before we put him to sleep - so his last memories are of us petting him and telling him we was a good boy. We didn't want him to go badly. This guilt, this heaviness, is what I think is so fucking hard. It was a hard decision. Saturn and Uranus all wrapped up into one. I feel terrible.
But I like to think he speaks to us in little small ways. When we left the vet, we saw a license plate that said Old-Soul. And then I saw another in the same parking lot that said LilRed2. I know it's probably just a coincidence, but I would prefer to be delusional and think he was just trying to tell us he loved us one last time. For the first day I thought I kept hearing him whine. That freaked me out, but only because I hoped he wasn't in pain after death. He was usually very silent, except towards the end of his life. He kept barking. We think it might have been a result of his Cushing's and possible behavioral changes. But his soul didn't change. He still loved soft things and gentle pets and cool places to lay.
We don't know what breed he was. We think he was an English Fox Red Lab. When we first got him, they told us he was about a year old. But looking back on it, he was probably much older. We got him on January 16, 2011. So in reality, he may have been around 13-14 years, exceeding expectations for the breed. My sweet boy. Here's a picture of the day we first saw him and took him home. I like to think maybe he was a Cancer Sun, because he loved hanging out with us and always knew his way home when he got out. :)
See what you can loosen up on in yourself. For me, that is letting go of some restrictions I had on myself previously (i.e. diet) and being forgiving of myself for doing whatever I wouldn't normally do. It is acting on instinct, if that means crying during the middle of the day, then that is what I'll do.
I found this art yesterday as I was writing this article. A big thank you jujujaan for letting me repost their work. The links to their Instagram and website are in the caption above.
Overall, we are so grateful to have had Rufus in our lives. I like to think he made the world a better place. He certainly made our lives a better place. Thank you. We are so thankful to have had you in them. <3
We love you Roo. You will be missed.
If you are suffering with grief, please call:
US Suicide Hotline (call or text) is 988
Grief support groups in Virginia (I am sure there are ones in your local state or province too <3)
The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine offers a free pet-loss grief support service Monday-Friday from 6 PM - 9 PM EST. (508) 839-7966
For more astrology info:
You'll get through this. Much love,