Pet Loss & Support

Unfortunately there comes that dark day when we have to let go of our pets. I am writing this after one such day. We love our pets with a passion and acceptance that is pure, no strings attached or ego based behavior. When we lose them it hurts, deeply and to the core. Here are some soothing words and a few places to go for support and information. We wish you well.

 

If you ever love an animal,
there are three days in your life you will always remember.
The first is a day, blessed with happiness,
when you bring home your young new friend.
You may have spent weeks deciding on a breed.
You may have asked numerous opinions of many vets,
or done long research in finding a breeder.
Or, perhaps in a fleeting moment,
you may have just chosen that silly looking mutt in a shelter —
simply because something in its eyes reached your heart.
But when you bring that chosen pet home,
and watch it explore, and claim its special place in your hall or front room —
and when you feel it brush against you for the first time —
it instills a feeling of pure love
you will carry with you through the many years to come.

The second day will occur eight or nine or ten years later.
It will be a day like any other.
Routine and unexceptional.
But, for a surprising instant,
you will look at your longtime friend
and see age where you once saw youth.
You will see slow deliberate steps
where you once saw energy.
And you will see sleep where you once saw activity.
So you will begin to adjust your friend’s diet —
and you may add a pill or two to her food.
And you may feel a growing fear deep within yourself,
which bodes of a coming emptiness.
And you will feel this uneasy feeling, on and off,
until the third day finally arrives.

And on this day — if your friend and God have not decided for you,
then you will be faced with making a decision of your own —
on behalf of your lifelong friend,
and with the guidance of your own deepest Spirit.
But whichever way your friend eventually leaves you —
you will feel as alone as a single star
in the dark night sky.
If you are wise, you will let the tears flow
as freely and as often as they must.
And if you are typical,
you will find that not many in your circle
of family or human friends
will be able to understand your grief, or comfort you.
But if you are true to the love
of the pet you cherished through the many joy-filled years,
you may find that a soul — a bit smaller in size than your own —
seems to walk with you, at times, during the lonely days to come.
And at moments when you least expect
anything out of the ordinary to happen,
you may feel something brush against your leg — very, very lightly.
And looking down at the place
where your dear, perhaps dearest, friend used to lie —
you will remember those three significant days.
The memory will most likely be painful,
and leave an ache in your heart —
As time passes the ache will come and go
as if it has a life of its own.
You will both reject it and embrace it,
and it may confuse you.
If you reject it, it will depress you.
If you embrace it, it will deepen you.
Either way, it will still be an ache.

But there will be, I assure you, a fourth day when —
along with the memory of your pet —
and piercing through the heaviness in your heart —
there will come a realization that belongs only to you.
It will be as unique and strong
as our relationship with each animal we have loved, and lost.
This realization takes the form of a Living Love —
Like the heavenly scent of a rose
that remains after the petals have wilted,
this Love will remain and grow—
and be there for us to remember.
It is a love we have earned.
It is the legacy our pets leave us when they go —
And it is a gift we may keep with us as long as we live.
It is a Love which is ours alone —
And until we ourselves leave,
perhaps to join our Beloved Pets —
It is a Love that we will always possess.

— © 2000 by Martin Scot Kosins,

http://www.petloss.com/

http://www.petloss.com/poems/poems.htm

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-loss

http://www.helpguide.org/mental/grieving_pets.htm

http://www.pet-loss.net/

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

http://www.aplb.org/

http://rainbowsbridge.com/grief_support_center/grief_support_home.htm

http://www.amcny.org/petlosssupportgroup

http://www.petpartners.org/page.aspx?pid=707

http://www.pet-loss.net/resources/NY.shtml

http://www.lightning-strike.com/

http://www.petloss.com/petlossbooklist.htm

https://riedelcody.org/blogs/kerrym/top-5-books-pet-loss-and-grief

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/the-death-of-pet-can-hurt-as-much-as-the-loss-of-a-relative/2012/02/21/gIQALXTXcS_story.html

Feline Grief 

   When a companion cat dies, owners often notice behavioral changes in their remaining cats. Some of these are due to adapting to a changed hierarchy, but other behavioral changes are due to a sense of loss.  Some researchers believe a cat’s concept of death is similar to a young child’s concept of death, i.e. they lack the concept of death being a permanent state.  Cat’s appear to comprehend a state of someone not being alive – body temperature changes, smell changes, etc.  Therefore cats probably have some comprehension that something dead cannot become alive again.

If the cats were sociable, the surviving cats may search, cry out (yowl or frequently meow) or even pine.  Other changes include sleep pattern changes, loss of interest in favorite activities, withdrawal (“sulking”) or conversely separation anxiety, depression and eating pattern changes. Because stress hormones are secreted, there may be physical effects including vomiting or diarrhea, hair-loss (often through over-grooming since grooming is a comforting activity), inappropriate elimination, anorexia, or weight loss.  Stress can often unveil an underlying medical condition and it is important to have it addressed by your veterinarian.  They will need individual attention and reassurance.  If they were unsociable or indifferent to each other, the survivors might simply rearrange themselves into a new hierarchy, dividing up their former companion’s territory between them.  Sometimes the surviving cat(s) blossom if they were previously bottom of the pecking order.  Cats are not hierarchical in the same way as dogs, but there are still boss-cats and under-cats.

On average, the healing process takes between two weeks to six months.  During this time, a grieving cat will need reassurance and attention.  This doesn’t mean forcing attention on a withdrawn cat, but is does mean little things such as offering food treats, catnip or new toys to draw a withdrawn cat out of its shell or to reduce a suddenly clingy cat’s over-attachment.  If the cat is severely affected or shows no signs of overcoming its grief, your vet may prescribe anti-anxiety medication.

If the cat is now on its own, some owners ask if they should get it a new companion to prevent loneliness.  While this may work for the more sociable and extrovert breeds, it doesn’t work for all.  The new cat will be seen as a stranger and a territorial invader.  For this reason, if you anticipate the death of a pet, it is usually better to introduce a new companion before the ailing pet dies to allow the newcomer to form a relationship with the existing cats.  If your cat has already passed away, give the remaining cats time to adjust before introducing someone new, and do it gradually to avoid upsetting the household.

In summary, it is important to allow your cat(s) left behind the chance to grieve in their own way and to support them in anyway necessary.  The only time human intervention is needed is if illness presents that warrants veterinary care.  By understanding the needs of your feline companion(s), you can help make the healing process easier.

copyright 2004-Sarah Hartwell 

 

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We really appreciate and learn from your kind words and encourage you to share your feedback.

“Thank you for that wonderful post. My beautiful dog Koba, a Shepherd/Pitbull mix, passed away about a year ago, and I, tall, burly, bearded, tough as nails 42 year old man still cry like a child every time I think of her. I never had a better friend. There were others before her and there will be others after, but there will never be one like her. Friends like that are only given to us once in a lifetime. And you are right, most people don’t get it (even my parents, who loved that dog, are unable to understand how I can still grieve a year later), but even more surprisingly, some pet owners do not get it either: my friend was sad for about a week when her pit-bull died and then went about business. I am Jewish, but all of us and our animals have one god, so god bless,”

Vadim K.

“Thank you so much for sharing this poem. It made me think of my pit bull Silva. She passed away 7 months ago, but it still feels like yesterday. This poem is really beautiful and it really touched me. So thanks again for sharing”

Serenity D.

“Thanks for the post…it’s been 5yrs since my Buddy went to Doggy Heaven and I still miss him dearly. Lately I been crying for him and wish I could have him back with me. He was always by my side when I was feeling blue. Now I’m just waiting to be reunited with him when it’s my time.”

Anonymous

“Thank you for your post. I lost my beloved cat Stevie Ray last May and the pain is still fresh and sometimes quite raw.

I wish you well in your own healing journey – the pain of the loss is more than offset by all the love that we give and gain with our wonderful companion pets, isn’t it. I am sure you were a great blessing to each animal that has been with you in this life including the kitty that you most recently lost.”

With love,
Teresa Y.