Losing a Pet – Book Giveaway

We are giving away a copy of Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet, by Gary Kowalski. Check out this excerpt on bidding farewell to a beloved pet, and then leave a comment for a chance to win your own copy of this book!

One Family’s Ritual of Leave-Taking
An Excerpt from Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet, by Gary Kowalski

Although we didn’t plan a formal ceremony [for our fatally ill dog Lady], my wife, Meredith, our son, Mark, and two close friends, Jeremy and Helena, gathered with me on a sunny hillside less than fifty feet from the open grave we had dug earlier. Together we created a memorial service that embraced the following four elements:

1. Honoring the life lived. As we sat on the ground, I held Lady so her head rested gently in my lap. With everyone taking turns stroking her, we reminisced about the times we shared with her. With tears flowing freely down my cheeks, I recalled Lady’s frequent nuzzling of my hand and the little four-footed dance she always did with a few barks thrown in whenever she wanted to play her retrieval game. Meredith recalled the proud way that Lady took a territorial stand accompanied by constant barking every time a strange dog so much as dared venture onto our property. Even the stories about her occasional digging in our flower gardens brought back fond memories.

2. Giving reassurance. We had no doubt that Lady knew her time in this physical world was drawing to a close. She gave me one long last look with those soft brown eyes, as if to say, “It’s okay. I’m ready. I’m not afraid. And thanks for being with me before I go back home.” In seeking to reassure her, we found ourselves being the ones reassured. Being present when euthanasia is chosen by an animal’s caretaker is absolutely an act of kindness as well as balm for lessening one’s own grief and suffering.

3. Releasing to the oneness of life. As Mark and I carried her quiet limp body and placed it lovingly into the earth, we felt a gentle lifting of our spirits, as though God were more present than usual. The energy in the air was palpable, and we knew deep inside that all would be well. In those few moments of committing a loved one’s body back to Mother Earth, we realized how precious life really is and that we are all inextricably connected to one another and to the Creator.

4. Remembering with love. Our animal friends are great teachers. They participate easily in the flow of life and surely accept death with greater courage than most humans do. As we reflected on this experience of life, death, ó and, we believe, rebirth ó we felt richly blessed and filled with a deep sense of community. Lady’s spirit was tangibly present. It was as though we would feel her laughing again, freed from a worn-out body and forever the playful retriever.

The Reverend Gary Kowalski is the author of bestselling books on animals, spirituality, and nature. His first book, The Souls of Animals, which explores other speciesí capacities for love, creativity, and self-awareness, has been translated into Chinese, Czech, German, French, and Spanish and has sold over 80,000 copies worldwide. His second book, Goodbye, Friend, was featured by both One Spirit and the Quality Paperback Book Clubs and remains a valued resource for those grieving their animal companions.


Excerpted from the book Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet © 2012 by Gary Kowalski. Printed with permission from New World Library.

WIN THE BOOK! Enter a comment below and you will automatically be entered to win a copy of Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet, by Gary Kowalski. Winner will be announced on July 10 (winner will be notified via Care2 profile). Good luck!


Tricia R.

Winner: Please email Molly at mollya@care2team.com to claim your new book. Thanks to everyone who entered!


Mourning a Petís Death & Celebrating Their Life
Surviving Pet Loss
The Fragility of Life & How to Love Dangerously


Gabriel L.
Past Member 4 years ago


Sheryl D.
Sheryl D4 years ago

To Valentina: I so know what it is like losing a pet. My first loss was my pet Chicken, named Penny, when I was about 14 yrs old. I had had her for 5 years & she was a wonderful pet--yes, chickens can be pets! I have lost several pets as an adult & it is never easy. I watched my 10 yr old cat, Claudine, die of a seizure from the solution I used to bathe her to get rid of fleas & probably because of the fleas (apartment management wouldn't do anything outside to rid us of fleas). I am also very aware of depression. I recommend one of 2 things: buy St. John's Wort (a natural aid for depression), make sure you read the label or ask your doctor for an anti-depressant, temporarily if that is what you need. Sweetie, hang in there. I have also lost a few humans in my life, but losing my pets was extremely heart breaking & there aren't too many people who truly understand that feeling. My heart goes out to you!

Valentina R.
Valentina R4 years ago

or excpect. I know that. But I can't help to ask: what if I was there 5 minutes earlier? Could have it been possible to do the cardiac massage properly and make her breathe again? Should have I moved her instead of keeping her in the same position? I was afraid to provoke another crisis and worsen her state.
They say she was safe and warm, and not alone, as we were in the house with her. They say seeing your pets die is much worse than finding them asleep forever. But still, I wish I stayed in the bathroom all the time, to be with her when she was leaving, and touch her, and talk to her for the very last time, not only 10 minutes earlier. I can't go over the fact that I should have been with her in that moment. I miss you too much my sister. I only hope you knew how much we loved you. We shared many beautiful years, you slept on my bed, and delighted us with your purrs. That will never be erased. I love you, forever.
Please give me some advice to feel better. What are the strongest medicines to fight stress, anxiety, despair, and insomnia?

Valentina R.
Valentina R4 years ago

These comments both give me strenght and make me cry. Please give me some advice to feel better. What are the strongest medicines to fight stress, anxiety, despair, and insomnia?
My beloved cat passed away last Tuesday/Wednesday, at about 4 am. Everything changed. I am devasted. I can't breathe nor sleep. Medicines do nothing. I keep thinking and crying.
What I regret the most is that she died without me on her side: she was warm in her blanket, in her wicker basket, in the bathroom, with the heater near her. I stepped in to check her every 10 minutes, she was stable and tranquil. At about 4 am, I entered the bathroom and saw her static, with her head limp, her eyes wide open and veiled. I had a sussult, kneeled down, and touched her. She didn't move, her eyes still freezed. I touched her chest and felt no beat. I put my face in front of her nose and felt no breathe. I tried to do the cardiac massage: I can't do it properly, and it was too late. First I thought (and hoped) she was in a coma, but I was simply in denial. I started crying, instantly woke up my mother, and called the vet, then rushed to the vet with the car. She only could confirmate that she was gone.

Many people, including our vet, said that nothing could have changed even if I was there with her in that exact moment: she was quiet, warm, comfortable, at home. I know that many people aren't so "fortunate" and have to put down their loved ones. They say the precise minute or second was impossible to predict

Care member
Care member4 years ago


Luisa Barr
Luisa B4 years ago

I understand very well, i have loved all my pets and its defenitely sad to loose them.

Sophie le Roux
Sophie le Roux4 years ago

Thank you for an article that send tears streaming down my face, for it reminded me of letting go of my beloved Jennifer, a beautiful Abyssinian, more than a year ago. Although I've been blessed with a beautiful and feisty ginger that has become my shadow, I still miss my Jennifer.

Dale Overall

Over my life time many losses of dear pets and each is so very sad. In my hometown pets could be buried in the yard and we had burials at our home.

For some rituals for a pet is a way of remembering a pet that was part of the family. While all funerals are for the living it is a way to memorialize and remember those who have passed.

A few of our pets were cremated and their ashes sprinkled over the farm where they lived most of their lives and the home where they moved to.

The concept of The Rainbow Bridge is a peaceful one, what ever tributes and memorials you plan will have deep meaning for you and the pet left behind. I am not certain of what happens after we die, but there are so many diverse opinions that comfort us at this time while we remember the pets we so loved. Especially those pets who brought us comfort in a childhood where some children suffered abuse, be it sexual, physical or bullying.

Alicia Coker
Alicia Coker5 years ago

I would hate to lose a beloved pet...thank god i haven't had to feel that pain yet.


Thank God I haven't lose a pet yet, I think the It'll happen Ill die too. But I love this article thanks.