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The death of our dog reminded me of all the lessons he had taught us. But perhaps the greatest lesson he taught was in his death itself. 

A few months ago, we said goodbye to the furriest member of our family. 100 pounds of pure love and affection. His name is Pilgrim, and he was the perfect addition to our family all those years ago. 

When the time came to say goodbye, we were heartbroken. I thought to myself, I’m never going to get my kids a pet. I don’t want them to suffer the same way we are suffering right now. 

A few hours passed, and I realized how wrong I was. 

No matter how much we may want to, we can’t shield those we love from all pain. Was the sadness of losing Pilgrim greater than the love he brought to us? Did the pain of saying goodbye weigh more than the joy of having him for all those years? Was this not worth everything he brought to our lives? The lessons he taught?

To love unconditionally.

To forgive those who hurt us.

To truly cherish family.

He taught us more lessons than I could count.

The love he brought into our lives far outweighs the pain of his death.

A favorite quote of mine by President Russell M. Nelson reads, “The only way to take sorrow out of death is to take love out of life.” 

It’s not easy when we have to see those we love suffering in any way. It’d be much easier if we could just remove anything that would cause pain. But I think that’s the point. Taking the sorrow and pain out of our lives takes with it the love and joy we feel. We didn’t come to earth to avoid sadness altogether. For how can we truly understand joy if we don’t experience sorrow? 

No matter how hard we try, there is no way to shield those we love from the trying times of life. There was no way to avoid the sorrow of losing Pilgrim. And that’s okay. He brought far more joy than sorrow in those eleven years.

And that’s why you should get your kids a dog. Or a cat. Or a turtle. Because it will bring them great joy, and when the time comes to say goodbye, the teaching opportunities are endless. 

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