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Lollipop the skunk is nearing the end of her life and every moment with her has become precious. Jessi visits Lollipop on one of her nightly check ins and captures her time with Lollipop on video while sharing her thoughts about grief and love.

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Hi everyone, this is Jessi from Animal Wonders sharing a  special moment from the other night with you.

Lollipop the striped skunk is 9 and a half years  old, which is very old for a skunk. While each and   every animal that comes into my life is important,  Lollipop takes up a really large space in my heart.

I’ve been spending quiet moments each night with Lollipop for the last few weeks. Each night I check on her to see  how she’s doing and sometimes all   she wants to do is curl up in  my lap for some gentle petting. And other nights, she wants to run through the halls of the compound exploring.

The hard truth is that Lollipop  is coming to the end of her life   and I’m going through the process of grieving. Grief is no stranger to those who  care for animals and most of us   will experience it at some points in  our lives, some less and some more. The interesting thing about my relationship with  grief is that it never feels the same way twice.

Each time I lose someone I care for,  the grief I experience feels new. In her life, Lollipop has brought me such  joy and has filled my days with happiness,   and I’ve gotten to share my love with  her for over 9 years. How lucky am I?

And now, she’s taking me on a new  adventure exploring my emotions   and thoughts around the end of a loved one's life. I wanted to share what I’ve discovered  with you as we sit with Lollipop,   just being present with her, experiencing  life together, however it comes. When someone you love enters into  their golden years you become more   aware of the limited time you have left with them.

You start to think about making  sure you get quality time with them. And sometimes I’ve tried to pretend time doesn’t  march on and they will simply live forever. And then you experience the last  few months of their life with them,   which can be incredibly hard.

It can hurt to see the one you love struggle to do   the things they enjoy doing and  used to be able to do with ease. It can be painful seeing them  living in pain or confusion. It’s in these moments that you know  you’ve lost something you held dear.

You’re losing your loved one and there’s  nothing that you can do so stop it. But in those moments of sadness or desperation,  sitting quietly with Lollipop and just being   present with her has given me the  words that I want to share with you. It is an honor, a privilege, to get to be with  your loved one during this time.

You only get   to experience this hard time by first sharing a deep relationship  with them and loving them a whole lot. Sure, the last few months are not like the rest,  but when you start thinking how hard it is,   know that you are giving them the gift of being  there with them during their hardest moments. You are giving back to them the joy,   and companionship that they gave to you  for all the years you spent together.

What a beautiful way to repay  your friend for their friendship. So, instead of trying to push away my feelings or  stop myself from crying in the middle of the day,   this time I’m embracing all of  the emotions that come with grief. What a wonderful thing to get to experience these  sometimes overwhelming moments of pure emotion.

And in allowing myself to cry when I feel like  crying, and laughing when I feel like laughing, and sitting and staring into nothing  when that’s all I feel like doing,   I’ve realized that every emotion I’m feeling  is because I simply allowed myself to love. And my love is pouring out in all sorts of ways,   some expected and some  unexpected. It is okay to allow yourself to feel whatever  feelings come along.

With love comes grief   and both are wonderful and weird and I’m thankful that I get to experience them with Lollipop. Lollipop has been such an incredible  ambassador for her species. Breaking   down stereotypes against her species and  generally bringing joy to everyone who meets her.

What a dang honor it is to know this very special gal. Lollipop, I’ll love you forever.