Sanctuary Life and the Grieving Process

We received a delivery of two loads of steel this week. It’s a wonderful thing, because it means that we get to build more fencing and continue to expand the female African elephant habitat. But it’s also a reminder that no matter how much grief you face, life continues to go on around you. While we’re trying to move forward and accept that Lady is gone, time doesn’t stand still. 

Because things just keep going, grief hits you when you least expect it. Lady is everywhere – from her medicine containers to her list of foods on the meal board to her favorite spots in the habitat – so we’re left with reminders all around. We were grateful to have spent so much time with Lady, but now the schedule just seems off, as if you just know you’re supposed to be doing something, and it eventually occurs to you why. You have to stop, take a moment for yourself, and just keep going. 

But the nighttime still feels magical. Since Lady left us, it seems that there’s been some sort of otherworldly vibe during the evenings. Whatever messages she must have sent to the other elephants appear to have resulted in a sense of fun and lightness all around. Perhaps the other girls are celebrating Lady’s life in the way she would have wanted: with trumpets and rumbles and an easy sense of peace. In spite of the more difficult parts of the day, we can still take the time to appreciate this sanctuary life and, in spite of sorrow, the miraculous gifts that Lady gave us over the years. 

Photo of Lady beneath a stunning rainbow


  1. REPLY
    Samantha says

    Thank you for the update. xoxoxo

  2. REPLY
    Wim says

    This is really a beautiful eulogy. Our loved ones stay vividly around us as long as they’re remembered. Lady’s extraordinary strong spirit and character will always give some kind of magic.

  3. REPLY
    Maureen says

    It’s so very hard to move forward in the face of such a devastating loss. Please know that while you do not grieve alone, we are all very aware that your grief is particularly poignant. Lady was part of your daily lives, and that loss is harder to register. I think it is fair to say that I speak for all when I wish you peace and send many hugs for comfort.

  4. REPLY
    Sue says

    To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” — Thomas Campbell
    Lady, and all the precious souls we’ve loved and lost, will live in our hearts forever. I hope that in time, happy memories will replace the sad ones when you think of her. Thinking of you all. ❤️🐘❤️

  5. REPLY
    Jeanine says

    It’s like losing a beloved pet. We grieve and never really get over it but life does go on. R.I.P. dear Lady.🥲

  6. REPLY
    JoAnn Merriman-Eaton says

    Grief is a strange animal. It change with the wind, I understand this post. I love the image in my mind of Lady, her spirit peacefully walking without pain into the universe and the setting sun. Thinking of her resting peacefully in one of her favorite spots at GSE is comforting. She fought a brave battle with the loving care and support of GSE.. That is how I will remember her. 🐘❤️

  7. REPLY
    Sue says

    This is all so true! Just lost my dog of 15 years. The grief can floor you out of nowhere, but you have to pick yourself up and be thankful for all the life around you.

  8. REPLY
    Carol says

    For dear Lady

  9. REPLY
    Suzanne Eaton says

    I feel your deep sorrow. All the staff of GSE were her constant caregivers to a family member.
    It’s a shared sorrow and broken hearts around the world who wanted so badly for our Sweet Lady
    to get better and have many many years at sanctuary. When my Momma died I was well aware that
    the world kept functioning as usual and I thought that odd since I just lost the most important person
    in the world. But, life goes on and we learn to go on also. Hugs to all Lady’s wonderful caregivers.

  10. REPLY
    Bonnie says

    She will be missed and she will always be with you all in pictures in thoughts and I do believe in spirit and the ladies they know and Sara you all are good hearted people

  11. REPLY
    Alejandra Enquin says

    Ladylove está presente como siempre,con su pequeña distancia observando a todos y acompañandolos sin dolor,con gratitud y emanando amor ,con su manera sutil y delicada pero profunda,Ladybug está .Y las chicas lo saben y lo manifiestan.La ausencia de Lady es solo fisica por eso no padece sus dolores y está feliz,en el Santuario,presente.

  12. REPLY
    Terry says

    Lady certainly is sending her Love and her Light!! Her passing is a great reminder that everything is achieved with a Light heart. Each time I look at my phone, a picture I have saved of Lady shows up. She is showing herself everywhere!!!❤️❤️❤️

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