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Author Topic: Mourning the death of a pet  (Read 5119 times)
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3catkidneyfailure
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« on: April 22, 2010, 07:17:31 AM »

I'm reminded again this morning how often Itchmo posters face the loss of a beloved pet. This is a hard discussion
at any time. So I hope some of the suggestions here might help:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/mourning-the-death-of-a-pet/

http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/coping_with_pet_death.html

"Coping with grief
While grief is a personal experience, you need not face loss alone. Many forms of support are available, including pet bereavement counseling services, pet-loss support hotlines, local or online Internet bereavement groups, books, videos, and magazine articles.

Here are a few suggestions to help you cope:

Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it.
Don't hesitate to reach out to others who can lend a sympathetic ear. The Delta Society offers a list of pet loss hotlines for those grieving over the death of a pet.
Write about your feelings, either in a journal or a poem.
Call your local humane society to see whether it offers a pet loss support group or can refer you to one.
Prepare a memorial for your pet.
You may also want to ask your veterinarian or local animal shelter about available pet loss hotlines. Explore the Internet for pet loss support groups and coping information.

For children
The loss of a pet may be a child's first experience with death. The child may blame himself, his parents, or the veterinarian for not saving the pet. And he may feel guilty, depressed, and frightened that others he loves may be taken from him.
Trying to protect your child by saying the pet ran away could cause your child to expect the pet's return and feel betrayed after discovering the truth. Expressing your own grief may reassure your child that sadness is ok and help him work through his feelings.

For seniors
Coping with the loss of a pet can be particularly hard for seniors. Those who live alone may feel a loss of purpose and an immense emptiness. The pet's death may also trigger painful memories of other losses and remind caregivers of their own mortality. What's more, the decision to get another pet is complicated by the possibility that the pet may outlive the caregiver, and hinges on the person's physical and financial ability to care for a new pet.

For all these reasons, it's critical that senior pet owners take immediate steps to cope with their loss and regain a sense of purpose. If you are a senior, try interacting with friends and family, calling a pet loss support hotline, even volunteering at a local humane society. If you know seniors in this situation, direct them to this page, and guide them through the difficult grieving process."


« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 03:40:21 PM by 3catkidneyfailure » Logged
3catkidneyfailure
Guest
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2010, 07:02:41 AM »

Smorgi's contribution on pet loss (thank you, guardian love):

http://www.pet-loss.net/
Ten Tips on Coping with Pet Loss
by Moira Anderson Allen, M.Ed.

Anyone who considers a pet a beloved friend, companion, or family member knows the intense pain that accompanies the loss of that friend. Following are some tips on coping with that grief, and with the difficult decisions one faces upon the loss of a pet.

1. Am I crazy to hurt so much?
Intense grief over the loss of a pet is normal and natural. Don't let anyone tell you that it's silly, crazy, or overly sentimental to grieve!

During the years you spent with your pet (even if they were few), it became a significant and constant part of your life. It was a source of comfort and companionship, of unconditional love and acceptance, of fun and joy. So don't be surprised if you feel devastated by the loss of such a relationship.

People who don't understand the pet/owner bond may not understand your pain. All that matters, however, is how you feel. Don't let others dictate your feelings: They are valid, and may be extremely painful. But remember, you are not alone: Thousands of pet owners have gone through the same feelings.

2. What Can I Expect to Feel?
Different people experience grief in different ways. Besides your sorrow and loss, you may also experience the following emotions:


Guilt may occur if you feel responsible for your pet's death-the "if only I had been more careful" syndrome. It is pointless and often erroneous to burden yourself with guilt for the accident or illness that claimed your pet's life, and only makes it more difficult to resolve your grief.
Denial makes it difficult to accept that your pet is really gone. It's hard to imagine that your pet won't greet you when you come home, or that it doesn't need its evening meal. Some pet owners carry this to extremes, and fear their pet is still alive and suffering somewhere. Others find it hard to get a new pet for fear of being "disloyal" to the old.
Anger may be directed at the illness that killed your pet, the driver of the speeding car, the veterinarian who "failed" to save its life. Sometimes it is justified, but when carried to extremes, it distracts you from the important task of resolving your grief.
Depression is a natural consequence of grief, but can leave you powerless to cope with your feelings. Extreme depression robs you of motivation and energy, causing you to dwell upon your sorrow.
3. What can I do about my feelings?
The most important step you can take is to be honest about your feelings. Don't deny your pain, or your feelings of anger and guilt. Only by examining and coming to terms with your feelings can you begin to work through them.

You have a right to feel pain and grief! Someone you loved has died, and you feel alone and bereaved. You have a right to feel anger and guilt, as well. Acknowledge your feelings first, then ask yourself whether the circumstances actually justify them.

Locking away grief doesn't make it go away. Express it. Cry, scream, pound the floor, talk it out. Do what helps you the most. Don't try to avoid grief by not thinking about your pet; instead, reminisce about the good times. This will help you understand what your pet's loss actually means to you.

Some find it helpful to express their feelings and memories in poems, stories, or letters to the pet. Other strategies including rearranging your schedule to fill in the times you would have spent with your pet; preparing a memorial such as a photo collage; and talking to others about your loss.

4. Who can I talk to?
If your family or friends love pets, they'll understand what you're going through. Don't hide your feelings in a misguided effort to appear strong and calm! Working through your feelings with another person is one of the best ways to put them in perspective and find ways to handle them. Find someone you can talk to about how much the pet meant to you and how much you miss it-someone you feel comfortable crying and grieving with.

If you don't have family or friends who understand, or if you need more help, ask your veterinarian or humane association to recommend a pet loss counselor or support group. Check with your church or hospital for grief counseling. Remember, your grief is genuine and deserving of support.

5. When is the right time to euthanize a pet?
Your veterinarian is the best judge of your pet's physical condition; however, you are the best judge of the quality of your pet's daily life. If a pet has a good appetite, responds to attention, seeks its owner's company, and participates in play or family life, many owners feel that this is not the time. However, if a pet is in constant pain, undergoing difficult and stressful treatments that aren't helping greatly, unresponsive to affection, unaware of its surroundings, and uninterested in life, a caring pet owner will probably choose to end the beloved companion's suffering.

Evaluate your pet's health honestly and unselfishly with your veterinarian. Prolonging a pet's suffering in order to prevent your own ultimately helps neither of you. Nothing can make this decision an easy or painless one, but it is truly the final act of love that you can make for your pet.

6. Should I stay during euthanasia?
Many feel this is the ultimate gesture of love and comfort you can offer your pet. Some feel relief and comfort themselves by staying: They were able to see that their pet passed peacefully and without pain, and that it was truly gone. For many, not witnessing the death (and not seeing the body) makes it more difficult to accept that the pet is really gone. However, this can be traumatic, and you must ask yourself honestly whether you will be able to handle it. Uncontrolled emotions and tears-though natural-are likely to upset your pet.

Some clinics are more open than others to allowing the owner to stay during euthanasia. Some veterinarians are also willing to euthanize a pet at home. Others have come to an owner's car to administer the injection. Again, consider what will be least traumatic for you and your pet, and discuss your desires and concerns with your veterinarian. If your clinic is not able to accommodate your wishes, request a referral.

7. What do I do next?
When a pet dies, you must choose how to handle its remains. Sometimes, in the midst of grief, it may seem easiest to leave the pet at the clinic for disposal. Check with your clinic to find out whether there is a fee for such disposal. Some shelters also accept such remains, though many charge a fee for disposal.

If you prefer a more formal option, several are available. Home burial is a popular choice, if you have sufficient property for it. It is economical and enables you to design your own funeral ceremony at little cost. However, city regulations usually prohibit pet burials, and this is not a good choice for renters or people who move frequently.

To many, a pet cemetery provides a sense of dignity, security, and permanence. Owners appreciate the serene surroundings and care of the gravesite. Cemetery costs vary depending on the services you select, as well as upon the type of pet you have. Cremation is a less expensive option that allows you to handle your pet's remains in a variety of ways: bury them (even in the city), scatter them in a favorite location, place them in a columbarium, or even keep them with you in a decorative urn (of which a wide variety are available).

Check with your veterinarian, pet shop, or phone directory for options available in your area. Consider your living situation, personal and religious values, finances, and future plans when making your decision. It's also wise to make such plans in advance, rather than hurriedly in the midst of grief.

8. What should I tell my children?
You are the best judge of how much information your children can handle about death and the loss of their pet. Don't underestimate them, however. You may find that, by being honest with them about your pet's loss, you may be able to address some fears and misperceptions they have about death.

Honesty is important. If you say the pet was "put to sleep," make sure your children understand the difference between death and ordinary sleep. Never say the pet "went away," or your child may wonder what he or she did to make it leave, and wait in anguish for its return. That also makes it harder for a child to accept a new pet. Make it clear that the pet will not come back, but that it is happy and free of pain.

Never assume a child is too young or too old to grieve. Never criticize a child for tears, or tell them to "be strong" or not to feel sad. Be honest about your own sorrow; don't try to hide it, or children may feel required to hide their grief as well. Discuss the issue with the entire family, and give everyone a chance to work through their grief at their own pace.

9. Will my other pets grieve?
Pets observe every change in a household, and are bound to notice the absence of a companion. Pets often form strong attachments to one another, and the survivor of such a pair may seem to grieve for its companion. Cats grieve for dogs, and dogs for cats.

You may need to give your surviving pets a lot of extra attention and love to help them through this period. Remember that, if you are going to introduce a new pet, your surviving pets may not accept the newcomer right away, but new bonds will grow in time. Meanwhile, the love of your surviving pets can be wonderfully healing for your own grief.

10. Should I get a new pet right away?
Generally, the answer is no. One needs time to work through grief and loss before attempting to build a relationship with a new pet. If your emotions are still in turmoil, you may resent a new pet for trying to "take the place" of the old-for what you really want is your old pet back. Children in particular may feel that loving a new pet is "disloyal" to the previous pet.

When you do get a new pet, avoid getting a "lookalike" pet, which makes comparisons all the more likely. Don't expect your new pet to be "just like" the one you lost, but allow it to develop its own personality. Never give a new pet the same name or nickname as the old. Avoid the temptation to compare the new pet to the old one: It can be hard to remember that your beloved companion also caused a few problems when it was young!

A new pet should be acquired because you are ready to move forward and build a new relationship-rather than looking backward and mourning your loss. When you are ready, select an animal with whom you can build another long, loving relationship-because this is what having a pet is all about!

(For more information on choosing a new pet and determining when the time is right, please see Ten Tips on Choosing a New Pet.)


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A POEM FOR THE GRIEVING...
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die...

-Anonymous

NOTE: There is considerable conflict over the actual authorship of this poem. It is most commonly attributed to a Mary Frye (and believed to have
been written around 1932); however, nothing is known of the author. It is, however, believed to be one of the most requested (and reprinted) poems
in the English language!


« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 03:43:19 PM by 3catkidneyfailure » Logged
bug
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RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2010, 05:21:14 PM »

Thank you for this 3Cat, we all go through this so often -- when it happens and at anniversary dates. I have one coming up and I really appreciate it.
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My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
Mandycat
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Posts: 5610


« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2010, 06:34:56 PM »

Thank you, 3cat.  {{hugs}}
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lesliek
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Posts: 11119


Trooper,Remy & Fragile


« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2010, 06:39:16 PM »

Thank you 3 cats ! This does help,and I appreciate you taking the time for it now. Big hugs to you and IQ.
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"the world's most inept extortionist"
JJ
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Posts: 8531


« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2010, 07:03:33 PM »

Thx for this as I also have an anniversary date coming up too soon.
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May your troubles be less,
Your blessings be more,
And nothing but happiness
Come through your door
tesla
Hero Member
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Posts: 2260


« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2010, 05:42:35 AM »

Thank you 3cats.
{{{{hugs}}}}
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3catkidneyfailure
Guest
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2010, 08:08:16 AM »

I hope this helps as it is part of my journey over Smorgi, too:
Reaching out to talk to a counselor, and yes, death of a pet is considered a "crisis"

Telephone 24 hour Crisis non-profit helpline:

1-800-992-5757

My sweet guardian Smorgi reaching out to help as always ...
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Carol
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Posts: 3200


« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2010, 09:46:18 AM »

http://www.indigo.org/rainbowbridge_ver2.html
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“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead

United we stand     Divided we fall....
catbird
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Posts: 9410


Never underestimate the power of crazy cat ladies!


WWW
« Reply #9 on: September 02, 2010, 10:07:06 AM »

I have stickied this thread so that it will always be in the top area of the Memorials section and be easy to find.
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The problem with cats is that they get the exact same look on their face whether they see a moth or an axe-murderer--Paula Poundstone
catwoods
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Posts: 6804



« Reply #10 on: September 02, 2010, 02:40:20 PM »

Thank you for this thread, it's something everyone needs.
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3catkidneyfailure
Guest
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2010, 06:39:30 AM »

JM's Elvis was the original inspiration to start this thread, and so many, many other pet losses. Please
add your thoughts, too, any time.
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3catkidneyfailure
Guest
« Reply #12 on: October 10, 2010, 11:40:20 AM »

For some of us being able to name stages of grief helps and seeing how those stages might be affecting us all at once:

http://www.hospicenet.org/html/knowledge.html

“There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.” Arnold Bennett (1867-1931)

No amount of knowledge can prepare us for bereavement. Grief is the most intense and enduring emotion we can experience.


... "Some of grief’s ’shotgun pellets’
You may be wounded by all, most, or just a few of these ’pellets’. Your grief is unique to you.

Emotions

Sadness: This is the most common emotion and one we are all familiar with to some degree.
Anger: You may be angry at God, the doctor, the ’system’, even the person who died. Someone you love is gone. Why should you not feel angry?
Frustration: Death is final. You want your loved one back and you can do nothing.
Guilt: The questions may come up. “Maybe I should have.?” “If only I had...?”
Shock and Numbness: Initially you may feel nothing. Combat veterans are often surprised to discover their wounds following an action. Accident victims may become aware of their own injuries after they have cared for others.

Physical Sensations

General sense of fatigue or weakness:
Shortness of breath or tightness in your chest
Dry mouth
Men often describe their emotional feelings in physical terms. ”It knocked the wind out of me.”, “Hit me right between the eyes”, or “Her death just crushed me.” are common examples.

Behaviors

Loss of appetite
Insomnia
Retreating socially
Crying
Dreams or nightmares
Calling out the deceased’s’ name
Treasuring or avoiding momentos of the deceased" ...
« Last Edit: October 10, 2010, 11:42:35 AM by 3catkidneyfailure » Logged
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