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Losing one of your furry kitty companions is one of the hardest things that you will ever go through. After all, they are a member of the family. And, without question, you have a strong heart connection with each one of your cats. Sometimes, your relationship with your cat is much closer than any you have with a human in your life. They rely on you to provide for them, and they are often your closest companion. In return, they provide you with unconditional love.
I have dealt with my fair share of loss, both from the cats and humans in my life. With each, the healing and grief process is very intense. Both hurt equally and both require time for the pain and sorrow to dissipate. There are no rules when it comes to the length of time you should grieve over your loss. It takes as long as it takes, and don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise.
I have had two of my feline friends pass over the past year. Both Pumpkin and Angelica had a special place in my life and my heart. Though some time has passed, I still think of them often.
Through the years I’ve found various methods that have helped me heal after the loss of a furry friend. Here are some of my favorites:1. Write about them
It doesn’t matter if you write professionally or for pleasure. It’s important to get your thoughts and memories about your cats who have passed down on paper. It provides you an outlet to remember, share, and honor them. You can also have each family member write a letter about what they loved best about the cat.2. Create a scrapbook and photo album
You can place your favorite memories and photos inside the books or albums. You can label them and display them in an honorary spot in your house.3. Make a shadow box
A shadow box will allow you to place their favorite toys, portions of their blanket, lockets of fur, and other items that remind you of them inside the box. You can then place the shadow box on a table or shelf in a special area or where your cat liked to spend time.4. Post pictures
Place your favorite pictures near the television, your reading areas, and on the refrigerator. Because you visit these areas often, you will have a happy reminder of your cats and what they were doing when the picture was taken. You can change the pictures or move them around to keep another memory alive. If you like using the slideshow feature on your computer, you can have your favorite photos of your cat display randomly on the screen.5. Talk to others
It’s important to have a family member or friend with whom you can openly talk about your loss. Share your happy stories with them and learn what they’ve done or are currently doing to assist in their own healing process. There are also support groups available. The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement offers the ability for you to search for a grief and loss counselor in your area. Another option is the Pet Loss Support Hotline offered through Tufts University.6. Read about pet loss
I recommend three books to anyone trying to heal from the loss of their beloved animal companion. Each book offers a different perspective on pet loss and proved useful to me when I needed additional insight in order to heal. The first is Saying Goodbye to Your Angel Animals: Finding Comfort after Losing Your Pet by Allen and Linda Anderson. The second is Animals in Spirit: Our Faithful Companions' Transition to the Afterlife by Penelope Smith. Lastly, there’s There is Eternal Life for Animals by Niki Behrikis Shanahan.
Please remember that it’s healthy to talk about your loss and shed those tears. In the end, we all need to deal with loss on our own schedule and in our own way. Your kitties will feel honored that you’ll always carry them in your hearts. They also want you to remember the happy times, and for you to know that all is well.
Have you dealt with a loss of a cat? What are some of the ways that helped you to he
Published March 5, 2013
Our writer follows up on his First Person essay about losing a pet.
I am truly overwhelmed by the responses to my story about our cat, Rosie, and the decision that it was time to end her life.
People have written to say they were moved to tears. They told their own stories about saying goodbye to a beloved pet, and their stories made me cry.
Of course, I was also called an "indulgent man child first discovering that other beings have worth" and—on fark.com—a "douche." (Although nine out of ten commenters said I wasn't a douche, so I take that as a ringing endorsement of my non-douchiness.)
Why such a response? Why the criticisms? And how is life without our cat Rosie?
Here are my thoughts.
The outpouring of comments, I think, is because we don't really talk about what it's like to end a pet's life. Even the euphemisms we use are detached: "put to sleep," "put down." Yet euthanasia is not something you do with detachment.
I kept thinking, "All our cat wants from us is love, full bowls of food and water, and a cozy place to curl up. And now I'm making a decision that goes way beyond that pact. I'm taking the pet's life, and I can't communicate that to her, I can't discuss it with her, I just have to do it."
But I didn't want to do it. I wanted to believe in the power of magical thinking: "Maybe she'll start using the litter box properly again. Or maybe fate will intervene and she'll expire of 'natural causes.'"
(As an aside, I will also tell you that one of the things we don't talk about is how much euthanasia can cost. Our wonderful vet in Montgomery County, Maryland, would have charged over $500. When he said we could certainly look for other, less expensive options, I found some animal-welfare groups that would euthanize a pet for around $100, but they were all too far away. I even looked up "do-it-yourself pet euthanasia" on the Internet. [Don't judge me: I'm a reporter, and I was curious.] Every site I found advised against it.)
The criticisms of my story typically focused on my statement that I didn't expect pet euthanasia to be so hard. I really, truly didn't think I would lose control and begin sobbing. I didn't expect to see my pet's life pass before my eyes: Searching for a tiny orange kitten all over the house and finding her hidden under a dresser ... with a little cat poo by her side. Our daughters standing outside on a stormy night and calling her in: "Rosie, Rosierosierosie!"—and of course she wouldn't come, and I'd think, "She's a goner," and then she'd show up in the morning, perhaps having used up one of her nine lives but looking none the worse for a night outside. Even trying to sneak a pill into her mouth when she had an infection (oy, don't ask!).
As I wrote, I assumed it would be a simple decision to say, "Time for her to go"—and in fact it was a difficult decision that I just couldn't make. I'd say, "Nobody else would clean up as much cat urine as we have!" Then I'd say, "What a whiner I am. So it's a little cat urine—how can I take her life away because of that?" I kept calling our daughters, who now live in Colorado, to say, "Well, I think it's time," and they'd say, "Dad, we understand. Do what you have to do." And I couldn't bring myself to do it.
Like many caregivers, I was focused on the here and now: We have to attend to an aging cat that has trouble making it to the litter box. I lost sight of the fact that over 20 years, our mostly silent cat (Rosie rarely meowed, or even purred) had so deeply insinuated herself into our family's life.
So how is life without our cat? A week after saying goodbye to Rosie, I still expect to see her around the house. At night, when I sprawl on the sofa to watch TV, I keep thinking she'll be there, trying to figure out if, at age 20, she has the get-up-and-go to jump on the couch. Some nights she did. Some nights I'd give her an assist. And while my wife frequently mocks my taste in TV, Rosie always let me pick the show—and never complained.
Rosierosierosie, I really do miss you!
When Murphy died some people, who didn’t know me very well, suggested that I get another dog. At the time wee Chloe was still alive and I used her as an excuse as to why another dog was out of the question. “We need to give Chloe her day”, “Chloe would just hate a lively pup around” etc
After Chloe died I then said that my mobility, or lack of it, would be a problem – “a pup could easily trip me up”, “What if I’m left alone with the pup and it needs out – I may not make it to the door in time to let it out to the garden”. When explanations of how these problems could be resolved I then suggested that a pup would prevent us from going on holiday abroad.
I hated leaving Murphy and Chloe – it was tears every time I even went away for a couple of days and so all our holidays where to places that accepted pets and didn’t involve loads of travel. The truth is that Murphy and Chloe didn’t stop me from going on holiday to foreign lands: I stopped me. My attachment and selfish notion that only I could look after them is what really stopped me. So once again that excuse for not getting a new pet didn’t hold water.
What really stopped me was fear. The fear that I would once again become so involved with another pet and that eventually my heart would be broken again. Once I realised what was really behind my excuses I stopped making them and simply admitted, “I’m just not ready”. And to be honest I’m not sure if I’ll ever be truly ready.
Murphy’s death sent me into a tailspin, which has lessened in momentum but not yet come to a halt.
Despite my fear I eventually gave a very tentative blessing and another pup was brought into the house with the understanding that I would have no responsibility for it. I have to say that my lack of excitement over having a little bundle of fun back in the house surprised me. I had successfully closed my heart, even more than I had realised: that came as a bit of a shock as I’m usually such a softie. Fear is a very powerful emotion and the fear of letting this beautiful wee pup be anything more than simply someone else’s dog, was never very far from my mind.
Over the past three months Duffy has softened my cold heart. I’m still not interested in having her or any other pet as my very own special friend – that was, and still is, Murphy’s place but having a pet in the home has actually made a great difference and just as Murphy came into my life at a very critical time, I feel that Duffy’s presence was a timely blessing.
Her antics and the way she looks at me sometimes reminds me so much of when Murphy was her age – and that makes me smile, sometimes with tears in my eyes, but smile all the same. And there have been times, and I really mean this, that I have wondered if the spirit of Murphy lives on in Duffy. More recently, since I have allowed Duffy to become part of my life, I have experienced the presence of Murphy, just as I did in the weeks that followed her death. I’m not saying that she’s the reincarnation of Murphy even though I believe that that’s possible but there’s something, just something about how she’s behaving towards me that makes me wonder. Wonder what? I’m not actually sure but I think that I need to explore the possibility of spiritual communication from Murphy just so that I understand.
And if it’s not, that’s OK also because for whatever reason Duffy has managed to help me thaw a little and I know that that means I’m working my way through and out to the other side of grief. Thanks Duffy! x
I rescued a human today.
Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering
apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn't be afraid.
As she stopped at my kennel I blocked her view from a little accident I had in the back of my cage. I didn't want her to know that I hadn't been walked today. Sometimes the shelter keepers get too busy and I didn't want her to think poorly of them.
As she read my kennel card I hoped that she wouldn't feel sad about my past. I only have the future to look forward to and want to make a difference in someone's life. She got down on her knees and made little kissy sounds at me. I shoved my shoulder and side of my head up against the bars to comfort her
Gentle fingertips caressed my neck; she was desperate for companionship. A tear fell down her cheek and I raised my paw to assure her that all would be well.
Soon my kennel door opened and her smile was so bright that I instantly jumped into her arms. I would promise to keep her safe. I would promise to always be by her side. I would promise to do everything I could to see that radiant smile and sparkle in her eyes. I was so fortunate that she came down my corridor. So many more are out there who haven't walked the corridors. So many more to be saved. At least I could save one.
I rescued a human today.
Written by Janine Allen CPDT, Rescue Me Dog's professional dog trainer. Janine's passion is working with people and their dogs. She provides demonstrations for those who have adopted shelter dogs, lends email support to adopted dog owners that need information beyond our Training Support Pages, and aids shelter staff and volunteers in understanding dog behavior to increase their adoptability. Copyright 2009 Rescue Me Dog; www.rescuemedog.org
Dear Dianne I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing this for my Lucky, how wonderful of you to care in such as special way for my baby. I just stared trying to catch up with my emails here, therefore is until now I saw your beautiful message; I was so morally, physically and mentally busy with my baby, so please forgive me.
Bellow is a copy and paste I sent to my friends a few hours ago. May life gives you back all your kindness.
Dear friends I hope all are doing good.
I am sorry for being away all this time, unfortunately, I came back with sad news: My baby "Lucky" my precious angel died on August 13. I know a month has passed since that day, I know for some I may sound like a crazy person, but honestly I can't help to feel the way I do.
I miss my baby so much and so much happened throughout this time, that it will take a long time to inform you and it will be all too painful. He was so precious to me, he was a member of my family, my friend, and YES! like a little child too, so precious and full of grace.
I thank you all of you who care since my first message when I told you of my Lucky's illness, for responding, for lighting candles, for praying, for posting comments of encouragement but most of all for caring! You are wonderful friends!!
Please forgive me if I don't go into details, I am heart broken, and having a hard time getting over, after all it is just one month to be able to over come such a imminence lost for me. Just know he is in where angel go, and I will forever love him.
I have set a little memorial for him in my page here in Care2, where I posted a picture of my baby, you are welcome to visit us both Lucky and me, and get to know my little angel.
Much love to you all. Genoveva
I suffer to this day with the loss of my Tara. I had some health issues straight after her death. Took a while to go back to normal. It happened in question of 2 weeks. The vet was in shock too.
I am sorry for everyone who loss their furry part of the family lately.
Grief and cultural sensitivity
There is no correct way to grieve or mourn. Customs, behaviors, and feelings that may be considered strange or inappropriate in one culture may be considered usual or appropriate ways of grieving in another culture. Given the differences in mourning rituals and customs, it may be difficult to know how to be sensitive to a grieving person from a different cultural background. Consider the following questions as you support a person from a different cultural background who is grieving:
- What emotions and behaviors are considered normal grief responses?
- What are the bereaved family's beliefs surrounding death?
- Who is expected to attend mourning ceremonies, and how are attendees expected to dress and act?
- Are gifts, flowers, or other offerings expected?
- What special days or dates will be significant for the bereaved family?
- What types of verbal or written condolence are considered appropriate?
To find out more about the customs and mourning practices of a person from another culture, consider talking to someone who shares that cultural background, looking for books at your local library, or searching for information on the Internet.
Tasks of mourning
Researchers have also described the grief process as a series of tasks that the grieving person may work through to resolve the grief. One model describes four tasks of mourning:
Task one: Accept the reality of the loss
Task two: Experience the pain of grief
Task three: Adjust to an environment in which the deceased individual is missing
Task four: Withdraw emotional energy and reinvest in other activities
Factors affecting grief
Throughout the stages of grief, the nature and intensity of grief reactions and the length of time a person grieves are affected by a variety of factors:
- The nature of the person’s relationship with the deceased (The intensity of grieving over the death of a spouse or parent may be different than the intensity of grieving over the death of a neighbor or coworker.)
- The cause of death (The grieving process may differ depending on whether the person died suddenly or was ill for an extended time.)
- The age and gender of the person who is grieving
- The life history of the person who is grieving, including previous experiences with loss
- The personality and coping style of the person who is grieving
- The support available from friends and family, in addition to the family's customs and beliefs surrounding death
- The religious and spiritual beliefs of the person who is grieving
Grieving is often more difficult and complicated when there are unresolved feelings or conflicts with the person who has died. Sometimes people who are struggling with complicated grief can get help by talking with a counselor, such as a clinical social worker, psychologist, or spiritual counselor. People who feel complete and good about their relationship with the person who has died may find that, although they are sad, their grieving experience is quite different than it would be if their relationship with the person had been strained.
Grief in different cultures
While each person's grief is unique, the experience is shaped by his or her society and culture. Each culture has its own set of rituals and beliefs surrounding death and bereavement that affect the ways one experiences and expresses grief. Funerals and memorial services help people who are grieving connect with their community and share their grief. However, the way a person expresses or experiences grief may be at odds with cultural expectations for bereavement. Someone who is feeling numbness or disbelief may not cry as might be expected at a funeral. Another person may experience a level of despair that feels out of step with cultural values or beliefs. It is important to allow people to grieve in ways that feel right to them. Learn more about grief among cultures.
Grief is a natural response to loss. It is a process that occurs over time and involves a range of feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and physical sensations. Although grief often refers to an emotional response to the death of a loved one, people with cancer and their families also grieve other possible cancer-related losses, such as the loss of a breast, the loss of fertility, or the loss of independence.
The terms grief, mourning, and bereavement are often used interchangeably; however, they have slightly different meanings. Grief is a person’s response to and experience of loss. Mourning is the outward expression of that grief, which may include cultural and religious customs and rituals surrounding death. Mourning is also defined as the process of adapting to loss and adjusting to the death of a significant person. Bereavement refers to the state of having suffered a loss and the experiences that follow the death of a loved one.
Common grief reactions
Reactions to loss, called grief reactions, vary widely from person to person and vary in the same person over time. Not every person has the same set of reactions, but there are some common ones. Grief reactions include difficult feelings, thoughts, physical sensations, and behaviors.
Feelings. People who have experienced loss may experience a range of feelings, including shock, numbness, sadness, despair, anxiety, anger, guilt, loneliness, helplessness, relief, and yearning. A grieving person may start crying after hearing a song or comment that makes them think of the person who has died. Sometimes, though, someone who is grieving may suddenly start crying for no reason.
Thoughts. Common thought patterns include disbelief, confusion, disorientation, difficulty concentrating, preoccupation, and hallucinations (briefly thinking that you see or hear the deceased person).
Physical sensations. It is common for grief to cause physical sensations, such as tightness or heaviness in the chest or throat, nausea or an upset stomach, dizziness, headaches, physical numbness, muscle weakness or tension, and fatigue. It may also cause vulnerability to illness.
Behaviors. When a person is grieving, it may be difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, and he or she may lose energy for enjoyable activities or lose interest in eating or interacting socially. A grieving person may also become more irritable or aggressive. Other common behaviors include restlessness, hyperactivity, and listlessness (lack of interest, energy, or spirit).
Religion and spirituality
Grief may also have religious and spiritual effects on a person’s life. Loss may cause a person to question his or her faith or view of the world, or it may strengthen the person’s faith by providing a new understanding of the meaning of life.
Stages of grief
Grief is often felt in waves or cycles, with periods of intense and painful feelings that come and go. People who are grieving may feel they are making progress but then suddenly face renewed, overwhelming grief. These renewed periods of grief may occur at significant dates, such as holidays or birthdays, or they may occur without reason. Over time, these periods of intense grieving typically become less frequent and less intense as the person adjusts to his or her loss.
Immediately after a loss, a person may experience shock, feelings of numbness, and disbelief or denial that the loss has occurred. The grieving person may feel disconnected from the world around them while going through mourning rituals, such as wakes or funerals. These initial grief reactions may last up to six weeks or more and may help to distance the person who is grieving from the pain of loss and protect him or her from feeling overwhelmed.
Another common reaction that comes after the initial feelings of numbness and disbelief fade is called confrontation. This reaction can be intensely painful as the grieving person comes to accept the reality of the loss. This reaction can last months or longer and is characterized by waves of distress, despair, and emotional upheaval with conflicting and difficult feelings. The person who is grieving may feel angry with the person who has died or feel guilty for still being alive. The grieving person may cry often, feel disorganized, have difficulty sleeping or getting up in the morning, and have trouble concentrating.
During the acceptance phase of grieving, the grieving person adapts to a new life without his or her loved one. Acceptance of the loss of a close person often occurs slowly over the course of a year or more. Life does not return to normal, but the grieving person may be able to create a new life with new goals and identity, often including unfamiliar roles. For example, a remaining spouse or partner may start taking care of the car for the first time or learn how to cook.
Grief reactions often do not occur in order, and a person may react with the same set of feelings more than once. Reactions may overlap and people may find that their feelings go back and forth. However, understanding the basic grief process can help people know what to expect and help reassure them that their experiences are normal and that the intense pain of grief likely will not last forever.
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This made me cry all over again! Lennox I believe your with God. You will never be forgotten!
Today, we grieve for the death of Lennox. Today, we wrap our collective arms around the family to try to give them some semblance of comfort. Tomorrow, we must all dust ourselves off, and begin with a renewed determination the fight to end this nightmare known as breed-specific legislation anywhere and everywhere it exists, or even appears to want to exist. We must never forget Lennox, or any of the thousands of beloved dogs who have been murdered simply because of their birth and the way they look.
Tomorrow, we must take the voices that were raised to try to save Lennox, and use them to save the ones in kennels facing death, and the ones yet to come. We must never forget what happened to Lennox and the others. We must channel the rage at this injustice in good ways, and begin to seek justice for all animals everywhere. Their lives depend on it. They have no voices except for the ones we as advocates give them.
Rest in peace precious Lennox. Run and play with those at the Bridge, and know that advocates will take up the cause for you in numbers unheard of two years ago. It is you, sweet Lennox, who has made a difference with your life. It is you, innocent boy, who will help fuel the fire of change for the future.
Last year when I began the journey of writing this column, the story of Lennox was the first one I published. I had been following his story from the time it had been made public. It felt only right that his story should be the first one I wrote to introduce myself to readers. His plight had touched me very deeply, and something told me his story was one that would bring dramatic changes in the world of animal advocacy.
Today, after 26 months of uphill legal battles by the Barnes family to try to save the life of this precious boy, I had to write the words that I had never wanted to write; that Lennox had been murdered by the Belfast City Council for no reason other than his appearance. The past week has been a cloudy haze of Facebook posts, phone calls, e-mails, snail-mail letters, faxes, fear, panic, and agonizing heartache. With each passing day it seemed that the ground was beginning to turn into quicksand, and there was no way to gain a foothold to save him.
I watched in awe as the leaders of the campaign to save Lennox kicked into high gear, doing everything humanly possible to try to save his life. They brainstormed, and made phone calls to anyone they could think of who might have some influence with the BCC. They wrote e-mails and sent out tweets by the thousands. Those who lived there went to the peaceful protest and the candlelight vigil. They networked Lennox's plight to hundreds of thousands of followers on social media, desperately trying to find the miracle of salvation for this innocent victim of BSL.
Each time one member was overcome with a sense of failure and despair; the others would prop them up and help them to carry on. Right up until the fateful statement was issued by the BCC that confirmed Lennox had been killed, they continued to fight, even for just the right of the family to be with Lennox at the end.
The entire process was beautiful to behold, but it was for a reason that should never have come to pass. Each and every one of these people can be very proud of what they did for Lennox, and never doubt that they did everything possible to save him.
So many times in this column I have said that breed-specific legislation is a cancer borne of hysteria and media hype, which focuses on the wrong end of the leash. Bad dogs are not born. Bad guardians make the dogs bad. They either intentionally train them to be fighters or to be vicious, or they do not train them at all, and never teach them proper doggie manners. Regardless, it is the fault of humans and never the fault of the dogs. Yet, the laws target those dogs, and by the thousands every year they are murdered, just like Lennox, simply because of their birth and how they look.
Two years ago, Lennox climbed inside of my heart and took up residence there. Today, with the knowledge of his death, there is a huge empty space of pain and anguish at his loss. My sadness and pain are nothing compared to what his family, most especially the innocent child, Brooke, must be feeling; their pain is incomprehensible.
Today, we grieve for the death of Lennox. Today, we wrap our collective arms around the family to try to give them some semblance of comfort. Tomorrow, we must all dust ourselves off, and begin with a renewed determination the fight to end this nightmare known as breed-specific legislation anywhere and everywhere it exists, or even appears to want to ex
Thanks for posting. We all deal with grief differant!
- Activity level. Does your pet still enjoy previously loved activities or is he/she able to be active at all?
- Response to care and affection. Does your pet still interact and respond to love and care in the usual ways?
- Amount of pain and suffering. Is your pet experiencing pain and suffering which outweigh any pleasure and enjoyment in life?
- Terminal illness or critical injury. Have illness or injury prohibited your pet from enjoying life? Is your pet facing certain death from the injury or illness?
- Your family’s feelings. Is your family unanimous in the decision? If not, and you still feel it is the best thing for your pet, can you live with the decision that you have to make?
If you do decide that ending the suffering is in your pet’s best interest, take your time to create a process that is as peaceful as possible for you, your pet, and your family. You may want to have a last day at home with the pet in order to say goodbye, or to visit the pet at the animal hospital. You can also choose to be present during your pet’s euthanasia, or to say goodbye beforehand and remain in the veterinary waiting room or at home. This is an individual decision for each member of the family.What to expect when putting your dog or cat to sleep
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, euthanasia for a pet is most often achieved by injection of a death-inducing drug. The veterinarian may administer a tranquilizer first to relax your pet. Following the injection of the euthanasia drug, your pet will immediately become unconscious. Death is quick and painless. Your pet may move its legs or breathe deeply several times after the drug is given, but these are reflexes and don’t mean that your pet is in pain or is suffering.
Explain that the pet is ill, often suffering, and that you have the ability to end that suffering in a very humane and gentle way. It is a simple injection, very peaceful and painless, and if you really love a pet you have to make these kinds of difficult decisions.
- Children tend to feed off of how their parents react. If a parent is hysterical, the children will be the same. If the parents are truly sad, and deal with the sadness in a healthy and thoughtful manner, the children will follow their example.
- If you are putting your beloved pet to sleep for the right reasons, tell your children that it is OK to feel sad, but don't feel guilty. These are two very different emotions. You should feel sad, and your children can feel the sadness, but don't mix guilt in with the sadness. One emotion is healthy, the other terribly burdensome.
Source: Dr. Larry
There are many wonderful reasons to once again share your life with a companion animal, but the decision of when to do so is a very personal one. It may be tempting to rush out and fill the void left by your pet’s death by immediately getting another pet. In most cases, it’s best to mourn the old pet first, and wait until you’re emotionally ready to open your heart and your home to a new animal.
Some retired seniors living alone, however, may find it hardest to adjust to life without a pet. If taking care of an animal provided you with a sense of purpose and self-worth as well as companionship, you may want to consider getting another pet at an earlier stage. Of course, seniors also need to consider their own health and life expectancy when deciding on a new pet.
Each animal is different, so trying to exactly duplicate your old pet will likely result only in frustration and disappointment. A new pet should be appreciated fully for its own sake, not as a direct replacement. That may mean choosing another type of pet or a different breed. Whatever you decide, give yourself time to grieve the loss of your old friend and follow your instincts. You will know when it is right to bring a new animal companion into your life.
Tips for seniors to cope with pet loss
As we age, we experience an increasing number of major life changes, including the loss of beloved friends, family members, and pets. The death of a pet can hit retired seniors even harder than younger adults who may be able to draw on the comfort of a close family, or distract themselves with the routine of work. For older adults who live alone, the pet was probably your sole companion, and taking care of the animal provided you with a sense of purpose and self-worth.
- Try to find new meaning and joy in life. Caring for a pet previously occupied your time and boosted your morale and optimism. Try to fill that time by volunteering, picking up a long-neglected hobby, taking a class, helping friends care for their pets, or even by getting another pet when the time feels right.
- Stay connected with friends. Pets, dogs especially, can help seniors meet new people or regularly connect with friends and neighbors while out on a walk or in the dog park, for example. Having lost your pet, it’s important that you don’t now spend day after day alone. Try to spend time with at least one person every day. Regular face-to-face contact can help you ward off depression and stay positive. Call up an old friend or neighbor for a lunch date or join a club.
- Boost your vitality with exercise. Pets help many older adults stay active and playful, which can boost your immune system and increase your energy. It’s important to keep up your activity levels after the loss of your pet. Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program and then find an activity that you enjoy. Exercising in a group—by playing a sport such as tennis or golf, or taking an exercise or swimming class—can also help you connect with others.
The loss of a pet may be your child’s first experience of death—and your first opportunity to teach them about coping with the grief and pain that inevitably accompanies the joy of loving another living creature. Losing a pet can be a traumatic experience for any child. Many kids love their pets very deeply and some may not even remember a time in their life when the pet wasn’t around. A child may feel angry and blame themselves—or you—for the pet’s death. A child may feel scared that other people or animals they love may also leave them. How you handle the grieving process can determine whether the experience has a positive or negative effect on your child’s personal development.
Some parents feel they should try to shield their children from the sadness of losing a pet by either not talking about the pet’s death, or by not being honest about what’s happened. Pretending the animal ran away, or “went to sleep,” for example, can leave a child feeling even more confused, frightened, and betrayed when they finally learn the truth. It’s far better to be honest with children and allow them the opportunity to grieve in their own way.Tips for a helping a child cope with the loss of a pet
- Let your child see you express your own grief at the loss of the pet. If you don’t experience the same sense of loss as your child, respect their grief and let them express their feelings openly, without making them feel ashamed or guilty. Children should feel proud that they have so much compassion and care deeply about their animal companions.
- Reassure your child that they weren’t responsible for the pet’s death. The death of a pet can raise a lot of questions and fears in a child. You may need to reassure your child that you, their parents, are not also likely to die. It’s important to talk about all their feelings and concerns.
- Involve your child in the dying process. If you’ve chosen euthanasia for your pet, be honest with your child. Explain why the choice is necessary and give the child chance to spend some special time with the pet and say goodbye in his or her own way.
- If possible, give the child an opportunity to create a memento of the pet. This could be a special photograph, or a plaster cast of the animal’s paw print, for example.
- Allow the child to be involved in any memorial service, if they desire. Holding a funeral or creating a memorial for the pet can help your child express their feelings openly and help process the loss.
- Do not rush out to get the child a “replacement pet” before they have had chance to grieve the loss they feel. Your child may feel disloyal, or you could send the message that the grief and sadness felt when something dies can simply be overcome by buying a replacement.
A decision concerning euthanasia may be one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make for your pet. As a loving pet owner, though, the time may come when you need to help your pet make the transition from life to death, with the help of your veterinarian, in as painless and peaceful a way as possible.Knowing when it’s time to put a pet to sleep
Euthanasia for a beloved pet is highly personal decision and usually comes after a diagnosis of a terminal illness and with the knowledge that the animal is suffering seriously. Your choices for your pet should be informed by the care and love you feel for the animal. Important things to consider include:
- Activity level
Understanding grief after the loss of a pet
For many people a pet is not “just a dog” or “just a cat.” He or she is a beloved member of the family and, when they die, you feel a significant, even traumatic loss. The level of grief depends on factors such as your age and personality, the age of your pet, and the circumstances of their death. Generally, the more significant the loss, the more intense the grief you’ll feel.
Grief can be complicated by the role the animal played in your life. For example, if your pet was a working dog or a helper animal such as a guide dog, then you’ll not only be grieving the loss of a companion but also the loss of a coworker or the loss of your independence. If you cared for your pet through a protracted illness, you likely grew to love him even more. If you lived alone and the pet was your only companion, coming to terms with his loss can be even harder. If you were unable to afford expensive veterinary treatment to prolong the life of your pet, you may even feel a profound sense of guilt.Everyone grieves differently
Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. Some people find grief comes in stages, where they experience different feelings such as denial, anger, guilt, depression, and eventually acceptance and resolution. Others find that grief is more cyclical, coming in waves, or a series of highs and lows. The lows are likely to be deeper and longer at the beginning and then gradually become shorter and less intense as time goes by. Still, even years after a loss, a sight, a sound, or a special anniversary can spark memories that trigger a strong sense of grief.
- The grieving process happens only gradually. It can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.
- Feeling sad, frightened, or lonely is a normal reaction to the loss of a beloved pet. Exhibiting these feelings doesn’t mean you are weak, so you shouldn’t feel ashamed.
- Trying to ignore your pain or keep it from surfacing will only make it worse in the long run. For real healing, it is necessary to face your grief and actively deal with it. By expressing your grief, you’ll likely need less time to heal than if you withhold or “bottle up” your feelings. Write about your feelings and talk with others about them.
One aspect that can make grieving for the loss of a pet so difficult is that pet loss is not appreciated by everyone. Friends and family may ask “What’s the big deal? It’s just a pet!” Some people assume that pet loss shouldn’t hurt as much as human loss, or that it is somehow inappropriate to grieve for an animal. They may not understand because they don’t have a pet of their own, or because they are unable to appreciate the companionship and love that a pet can provide.
- Don’t argue with others about whether your grief is appropriate or not.
- Accept the fact that the best support for your grief may come from outside your usual circle of friends and family members.
- Seek out others who have lost pets; those who can appreciate the magnitude of your loss, and may be able to suggest ways of getting through the grieving process.
Sorrow and grief are normal and natural responses to death. Like grief for humans, grief for animal companions can only be dealt with over time, but there are healthy ways to cope with the pain. Here are some suggestions:
- Don’t let anyone tell you how to feel, and don’t tell yourself how to feel either. Your grief is your own, and no one else can tell you when it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” Let yourself feel whatever you feel without embarrassment or judgment. It’s okay to be angry, to cry or not to cry. It’s also okay to laugh, to find moments of joy, and to let go when you’re ready.
- Reach out to others who have lost pets. Check out online message boards, pet loss hotlines, and pet loss support groups. If your own friends, family members, therapist, or clergy do not work well with the grief of pet loss, find someone who does.
- Rituals can help healing. A funeral can help you and your family members openly express your feelings. Ignore people who think it’s inappropriate to hold a funeral for a pet, and do what feels right for you.
- Create a legacy. Preparing a memorial, planting a tree in memory of your pet, compiling a photo album or scrapbook, or otherwise sharing the memories you enjoyed with your pet, can create a legacy to celebrate the life of your animal companion.
- Look after yourself. The stress of losing a pet can quickly deplete your energy and emotional reserves. Looking after your physical and emotional needs will help you get through this difficult time. Eat a healthy diet, get plenty of sleep, and exercise regularly to release endorphins and help boost your mood.
- If you have other pets, try to maintain your normal routine. Surviving pets can also experience loss when a pet dies, or they may become distressed by your sorrow. Maintaining their dail
Thank-you for this helpful info and website. I have recently lost a beloved pet, and also a "cyber" friend. We may have only known one another over the net, but we got to be good friends, and I miss our chats. :(
It is very important to remember that every one is differant,each person may go through all stages,some stages,may even go through the same stage over and over,and very few people go through the stages in the order shown above.I know this because when I went through nursing school,this was one of the subjects we had to do for 6 weeks.
Will find some more info on this today Eco,hope this helps and so sorry it was late,have been so so busy pasr few days.
five stages of grief - elisabeth kübler ross EKR stage Interpretation 1 - Denial Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It's a defence mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored. Death of course is not particularly easy to avoid or evade indefinitely.
2 - Anger
Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them. Knowing this helps keep detached and non-judgemental when experiencing the anger of someone who is very upset.
3 - Bargaining
Traditionally the bargaining stage for people facing death can involve attempting to bargain with whatever God the person believes in. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example "Can we still be friends?.." when facing a break-up. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it's a matter of life or death.
4 - Depression
Also referred to as preparatory grieving. In a way it's the dress rehearsal or the practice run for the 'aftermath' although this stage means different things depending on whom it involves. It's a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It's natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality. 5 - Acceptance Again this stage definitely varies according to the person's situation, although broadly it is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must necessarily pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief.
(Based on the Grief Cycle model first published in On Death & Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, 1969. Interpretation by Alan Chapman 2006-2009.)
Also known as the 'grief cycle', it is important to bear in mind that Kübler-Ross did not intend this to be a rigid series of sequential or uniformly timed steps. It's not a process as such, it's a model or a framework. There is a subtle difference: a process implies something quite fixed and consistent; a model is less specific - more of a shape or guide. By way of example, people do not always experience all of the five 'grief cycle' stages. Some stages might be revisited. Some stages might not be experienced at all. Transition between stages can be more of an ebb and flow, rather than a progression. The five stages are not linear; neither are they equal in their experience. People's grief, and other reactions to emotional trauma, are as individual as a fingerprint.
In this sense you might wonder what the purpose of the model is if it can vary so much from person to person. An answer is that the model acknowledges there to be an individual pattern of reactive emotional responses which people feel when coming to terms with death, bereavement, and great loss or trauma, etc. The model recognises that people have to pass through their own individual journey of coming to terms with death and bereavement, etc., after which there is generally an acceptance of reality, which then enables the person to cope.
The model is perhaps a way of explaining how and why 'time heals', or how 'life goes on'. And as with any aspect of our own or other people's emotions, when we know more about what is happening, then dealing with it is usually made a little easier.
Again, while Kübler-Ross's focus was on death and bereavement, the grief cycle model is a useful perspective for understanding our own and other people's emotional reaction to personal trauma and change, irrespective of cause.
Please be aware that the interpretation and contextual material on this webpage represents my own thoughts on the subject. I would encourage you to develop your own ideas too - this is a deeply significant area and one that can be interpreted in many ways. My interpretation and associations are not an attempt to reproduce Kübler-Ross's thinking, they seek to provide a modern context, and to relate the basic model to the philosophies of this website.
Use of and reference to the Elisabeth Kübler-Ross five stages for commercial purposes, and publication of EKR quotations, require permission from the EKR Foundation. You can use freely the other aspects of this page subject to the normal terms for using this website, briefly summarised at the foot of this page.
elisabeth kübler-ross - five stages of grief kubler-ross model for death and bereavement counselling, personal change and trauma
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (which is the correct spelling; Elizabeth Kubler Ross is a common incorrect form and used above for search-engine visibility). Incidentally, 'counselling' is UK English and 'counseling' is US English.
Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross pioneered methods in the support and counselling of personal trauma, grief and grieving, associated with death and dying. She also dramatically improved the understanding and practices in relation to bereavement and hospice care.
Her ideas, notably the five stages of grief model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), are also transferable to personal change and emotional upset resulting from factors other than death and dying.
We can clearly observe similar reactions to those explained by Kübler-Ross's grief model in people confronted with far less serious traumas than death and bereavement, such as by work redundancy, enforced relocation, crime and punishment, disability and injury, relationship break-up, financial despair and bankruptcy, etc.
This makes the model worthy of study and reference far outside of death and bereavement. The 'grief cycle' is actually a 'change model' for helping to understand and deal with (and counsel) personal reaction to trauma. It's not just for death and dying.
This is because trauma and emotional shock are relative in terms of effect on people. While death and dying are for many people the ultimate trauma, people can experience similar emotional upsets when dealing with many of life's challenges, especially if confronting something difficult for the first time, and/or if the challenge happens to threaten an area of psychological weakness, which we all possess in different ways. One person's despair (a job-change, or exposure to risk or phobia, etc) is to another person not threatening at all. Some people love snakes and climbing mountains, whereas to others these are intensely scary things. Emotional response, and trauma, must be seen in relative not absolute terms. The model helps remind us that the other person's perspective is different to our own, whether we are the one in shock, or the one helping another to deal with their upset.
The study of death and dying is actually known as thanatology (from the Greek word 'thanatos' meaning death). Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is accordingly sometimes referred to as a thanatologist, and she is considered to have contributed significantly to the creation of the genre of thanatology itself.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's seminal book was On Death & Dying, published in 1969, in which she explained her now classically regarded 'five stages of grief'. The book and its ideas were quite revolutionary at the time, reflecting Kübler-Ross's outspoken and bold approach, which is paradoxical given the sensitivity and compassion of her concepts.
Kübler-Ross was a catalyst. She opened up and challenged previously conservative (sweep it under the carpet, don't discuss it, etc) theories and practices relating to death and bereavement, and received an enormously favourable response among carers, the dying and the bereaved, which perhaps indicates the level of denial and suppression that had earlier characterised conventional views about the subject - particularly in the western world, where death is more of a taboo than in certain other cultures.
As stated, and important to emphasise, Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief model was developed initially as a model for helping dying patients to cope with death and bereavement, however the concept also provides insight and guidance for coming to terms with personal trauma and change, and for helping others with emotional adjustment and coping, whatever the cause. This has probably helped her ideas to spread and to enter 'mainstream' thinking.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and her ideas have now become synonymous with emotional response to trauma, and to grief support and counselling, much like Maslow is fundamentally associated with motivational theory; Kolb with learning styles, and Gardner with multiple intelligence.
As with much other brilliant pioneering work, the Kübler-Ross model is elegantly simple. The five stages of grief model is summarised and interpreted below.
Recover-from-grief.com, is not meant to be a "quick fix" or shortcut through grief and sorrow. That is not advisable or healthy. It's a place for you to come when you feel the need. Here you will find many comforting ideas and creative techniques to help you cope and recover from grief loss. Once again, our profound sympathy to you in your loss. Ready to begin?
--- Visit often... see what others have added to your grief or memorial pages.
--- Read the stories of grief and sorrow posted by other mourners, so you
won't feel so all alone.
--- Find out if an alarming new symptom you are experiencing is "normal".
--- Pick out a unique and special way to memorialize your lost beloved.
--- Find a strong book or comfort item to help you through the dark times.
As long as you are moving, changing, creating, expressing, doing something; your grief and sorrow will proceed in a healthy manner.
***By the way, we chose the dove as our site logo because it is the universal symbol for peace... and that's what we hope to help you eventually find.
We suggest you start with "YOUR PAIN".
"The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step"
- Chinese Proverb
Recover-from-grief.com, is not meant to be a "quick fix" or shortcut through grief and sorrow. That is not advisable or healthy. It's a place for you to come when you feel the need. Here you will find many comforting ideas and creative techniques to help you cope and recover from grief loss.
Once again, our profound sympathy to you in your loss. Ready to begin?
Curious about this website? Read more About Us here.
My hope is that you will come to our website often, and tell other grieving friends and family members about it. And our biggest wish is that you get to the point where you don't need us anymore. Then "pay it forward" by recommending "recover-from-grief.com" to someone else who needs it more.
Curious about this website? Read more About Us here.
WHAT IS CREATIVE GRIEVING?
Mental health care professionals agree that one of the most helpful ways to work through mourning is to express your grief, and not hold it in. And your most effective and creative expressions of grief may differ from the next persons.
We present in our website a variety of creative mourning techniques; talking, writing, creating art, music or poetry, or memorializing are all good ways to express your bereavement. Explore our site to find the expressive techniques that feel "just right" for you.
HOW TO USE THIS WEBSITE
Most of the grief websites out there today are one of two types: either a "memorial" website, to post a tribute to your beloved (which we will also provide), or "informational", which provide good material, but in "textbook" or "article" format. Neither of these sites gives you a clear, practical plan for dealing with the stresses and uncertainty of grief loss.
We strive to fill that void with this website. Recover-from-grief.com is all about you... your pain and your grief and sorrow. It is designed as a stand-alone workshop. You can pick and choose topics to explore, or progress through the site in the order of the navigation bars on the left. Subjects have been organized in a logical manner, building upon the pages before it.
We are a young website, but already provide all of these great resources:
- Information about the grief process, and stages of griefand sorrow
- Signs and symptomsof bereavement; what's "normal",
weird happenings, and when to seek outside help
- "Yourspace", your own personal "grief page" where you can tell your story
- Practical and proven grief coping strategies
- A unique and comprehensive "grief guidebook"
(*Update: the guide is now available in "hard copy")
- An effective and innovative audio program for grief
coping and relaxation, Grief Relief
- Stressed out? Find practical help in our excellent
(and free) Stress Management E-course
- Understanding pet loss grief, in yourself or grieving friends
- Projects for healing artwork, comforting music and poetry
- Ideas for comfort items to ease you through the hard times
So the unthinkable has happened to you! A special loved one has been torn from your life by tragedy, and you are heartbroken. I am so very sorry for your loss, and wish to extend our deepest sympathy to you and your family.
Welcome, my friend, to our grief loss recovery website. You have come to the right place for straight answers, practical advice... and hope.
You are in the midst of one of the most painful and trying experiences that a human can possibly endure. No one can know the depths of your pain, and we know that you will never forget this terrible tragedy. Memories of your departed loved one will never leave you, nor should they.
Hope for the future...
I think it may help you to know that grief is a process, a long journey of acceptance and healing. And you can get through it, and come back in time to a happy and productive life. I know it is hard for you to believe right now, but you must hold onto hope, and keep in the back of your mind that things will eventually get better.
You are not alone in this. You probably feel quite overwhelmed and bewildered right now, sort of like you were picked up and placed on a different planet! This grief thing is a surreal new world of uncharted territory for you, and no one gave you a roadmap, did they?
About our website...
My name is Jennie, and I am the editor and webmaster for "Recover From Grief". I am a Registered Nurse with many years practice as an ICU nurse. I have helped and comforted many traumatized families as they began their grief loss experiences.
This website evolved as a result of my interest in and advanced study of grief theory and interventions, with eventual certification as a grief counselor. I too have seen my own share of personal tragedy, and I looked for easier ways to cope with my own grief. Thus was born our site concept of "healing through creative grieving".
There is no "right way" or "wrong way" to grieve... but there are ways to make the whole ordeal more bearable and find successful closure. Grief loss recovery is a long and painful process, but there will be brighter days ahead for you, I promise. Let us help you find them.
GRIEF LOSS RECOVERY
Hope and Health Through Creative Grieving
"If you're going through
hell, keep going".
--- Sir Winston Churchill