I have written about loss before, specifically about how hard it is to go through and what you can do to get through the sadness and the reality of the new normal. Recently, I have experienced grief once again, with the loss of my beloved cat, Big, and my little lizard, Norman. I feel compelled to address the subject of grief again for those who have lost a loved one, be it animal or human.
When we experience the loss of someone, or even something to which we have attached emotions, we experience physical pain. The Old English word for grief is heartsarnes which translates, “soreness of the heart”. It is important to know that grief can cause physical pain or illness. Along with the sadness, we can experience physical symptoms, ranging from high blood pressure, to muscle aches and pains, to loss of appetite and fatigue. Headaches are another malady, which is often created by dehydration due to crying.
Self-care is so difficult to think about when you are suffering the loss of a loved one. Sometimes we feel guilt for finding pleasure in even the essential things that sustain us, such as food and sleep. A definite need is to drink lots of water, even if you do not particularly care for it. Water is a powerful element in healing. You should also get sleep at every opportunity you are given and do it without feeling guilty, as sleep is how our bodies repair themselves. It is also important to move: take a walk, clean the house or garage, organize a closet or a cabinet. When you experience a loss, you feel a lack of control over your circumstances. Many people, including myself, find focusing on things they do have control over helps to navigate this part of grieving. Additionally, reaching out to others or volunteering is a great way to get outside of yourself. It has amazing therapeutic benefits for you and endless benefits to those you are helping.
Above all, allow yourself to feel how you feel. Grief is an emotion we must fully feel, as hard as it is to go through. It will resurface again if it is not addressed. There is no timeline on how long you should grieve, as everyone is different. If you find yourself still unable to get back to the things you love after approximately a month’s time, you may want to talk to a professional. Sharing how you are feeling helps get what you are holding inside, outside, which gives your body a better opportunity to heal.
In closing, I am so grateful to those who reached out to help me in my grief. It can be a lonely place to be without friends and family who understand these guys were part of our lives daily. Some of us see our pets more often than we see our own families! If you find yourself in a position where you do not know what to say or do to help someone who is grieving, it is ok to just say you are sorry, as that acknowledges they are experiencing pain. You can also send a flower or card if you are uncomfortable with speaking in times like this. I will always honor the memories of Big and Norman, and they can never be replaced.
When the leaves start changing color and summer fun is coming to a close, we must remember there are still a lot of warm days remaining. In fact, late summer months can be some of the hottest months in the South. With temperatures still soaring, here are some precautionary reminders to keep our furry babies safe and cool for the duration of the season.
Water: Keep plenty of clean water available to your pets and keep it out of the sun. It is easy to get busy this time of year, however keeping your pet’s bowl full of water is essential.
Shelter: If your Shelter: If your dog is going to be spending time in the backyard, you need to think about shelter from the hot sun. Trees can be a good source of shelter, as long as they are sufficient in size to protect your pet for the amount of time they are out. It is important to remember that dog houses are NOT shelter from the heat. If you need a good source for a quality dog house, check out this website: http://www.newagepet.com/product-category/dog/dog-houses/.
Exercise: Exercise is essential for our pets, but we must keep it to a minimum during the hottest hours of the day. When walking your pet, be aware of the pavement temperature
Try these ideas to stay safe and cool:
Protect your pals’ paws with booties, socks or paw protection wax.
Kiddie pools and water sprinklers provide a great way for your furry friend to cool down.
Cooling mats are always an option, and they are available on Amazon. I take one to the beach with me every year.
There is also an “All for Paws Chill Out Ice Bandana” that can be found on Amazon. They also make this in a vest.
Check out the crate/dog house fans. There are models that utilize ice rings, which are like a personal air conditioner for your dog.
Give your pal a frosty treat. I have included a recipe for one of my dog’s favorites below and you can find more at: www.doggydessertchef.com.
By: Leslie Reid, Pet Pilgrimage Crematory and Memorials
COPYRIGHT 2022 PET PILGRIMAGE CREMATORY AND MEMORIALS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Unconditional love. We all seek to find it in our human relationships. Where we often find it is with our pets, whether furry, feathered, or scaled.
This discovery of unconditional love is why we find it almost unbearable when our pet passes away. Our pet family members mark the passage of time and memories. We all remember the first day we met, the trials of getting to know each other, the development of routines, the replacement of chewed items from teething or boredom, potty training (agghhh!), and the countless road trips to the beach, mountains, parks, vets, groomers, and pet stores. Many of us spend more time with our pets than our extended families, so this is why saying goodbye is one of the hardest things we ever have to do.
When the time comes to say goodbye to our pet, all the memories and emotions attached to them come flooding back to us, sometimes rendering us incapable of carrying through with simple daily tasks. Grief is grief; it makes no difference whether it is human or pet loss, the pain is there.
If you are facing the loss of a pet in the near future, have recently experienced a loss, or know someone coping with the loss of a pet, keep these suggestions in mind:
Allow yourself time to grieve. There is no magic number of days for this process. It is a journey that is different for everyone.
Surround yourself with those who understand the human-pet connection, or who have experienced the loss of their own beloved pet. Not everyone understands that the grief associated with a pet is just as painful as the grief associated with the loss of any other member of the family, and it needs to be taken seriously
Indulge yourself in what brings you comfort: a latte with extra whip cream, mashed potatoes or chocolate ice cream, good books, a movie or a Netflix binge. It is important to do those things that bring you comfort.
Keep moving forward, literally. I am a big fan of exercise, of any type, to produce healing endorphins in the body. Take a walk outside, find an exercise class, or clean out a closet.
If you continue to struggle, do not hesitate to reach out to a support group where others are going through a similar loss. Sometimes we exhaust those who love us most and who may be going through their own grief in a different way. A support group is a way to share some of what you are experiencing, and perhaps by helping another person, you will find healing for yourself. Many towns have local support groups, like the one we have here in Mooresville, NC at Pet Pilgrimage Pet Crematory & Memorials. Our Pet Loss Grief Support Group meets once a month and is open to anyone that is grieving the loss of a pet. If you are unable to find a local support group, you can also seek helpful grief support online through forums such as Rainbow Bridge Pet Loss Grief Center.
Honor your pet in your own special way. There are many ways to honor your pet. You may find comfort in conducting an intimate memorial service with your family, releasing biodegradable balloons, or creating a permanent memorial in honor of your pet. Shadow boxes, photo albums and custom illustrations can also be helpful in archiving the life of your pet. Jewelry and other special pet memorial keepsakes are options as well.
It is best if you give yourself a little time before seeking out another pet companion. Our expectations are so high after we have lost “the perfect dog or cat.” We want what we have lost. This may bring disappointment for both the human seeking an adoptable pet, as well as the unsuspecting pet that has no idea they are expected to act like “Max,” the greatest dog or cat to walk this earth. We never love the same way twice, and if we allow each relationship to evolve in its own special way, we will reap the rewards of newfound love, while cherishing the memories of pets we have loved in the past.
Each pet enriches our lives in different ways. When the time is right, be ready and open to the joy a new pet can bring to your life. The love of a pet is priceless and, once experienced, is hard to live without. Sometimes there is guilt in the adoption of another pet. Our pets want one thing, and one thing only, to make us happy. Adopting another pet is a wonderful way to honor the pet you have lost. Allowing yourself to love again takes tremendous courage, but, in the end, LOVE is worth the risk. When the time feels right consider giving a rescue pet a home by seeking out those at local rescues.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss
By Leslie Reid, Pet Pilgrimage Pet Crematory & Memorials
COPYRIGHT 2022 PET PILGRIMAGE CREMATORY AND MEMORIALS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.