Friday, September 7, 2012

Ten Tips for Surviving Pet Loss

Pets are amazing connectors!

Because of our dog Toby, I have met some of the most amazing people, and animals. Our precious friend Toby passed away late 2011, and we miss him dearly....every single day.   Toby was a dog who lived life big and left pawprints on hearts around the world.  Sadly, our animal friends just are not with us long enough, however, their friendship and unconditional love is a beautiful memory of how our pets impact our lives.  The conversation about pet loss is an important one and I am delighted to introduce you to our guest blog author, Reisa Stone. 

Ten Tips for Surviving Pet Loss

by  Expert Animal Communicator Reisa Stone

Losing your dear companion to death is one of the most devastating things that will ever happen to you. You've lost your best friend and a source of completely nonjudgmental love.

When I lost my heart dog Chant, I was inconsolable. It took not one, but two interventions to get me to surrender her to a pet funeral service. I placed her body in a snow bank at my back door. For three months, I answered concerned inquiries with a brusque, "She's fine." I made disastrous career decisions. I gained 20 lbs. by watching TV all night, chain smoking and eating junk food instead of going to the gym.

Reisa and her beautiful dog Chant

Then, Chant visited me from the Rainbow Bridge. She taught me a profound spiritual lesson that eased my heart and mind.

Through the loss of many animals, both my own and those I've cared for, I've learned valuable lessons. I know that if your loss is recent, it feels as if your guts have been ripped out. Please believe me, the acuteness of the pain will lessen in time.

Below are ten ways to take care of yourself and your family while you grieve:

1. Minimize contact with anyone who minimizes your loss. Mainstream society still regards pets as "less than." Seek support from people who understand your devastation. Reach out to a pet loss hotline and work with a pet loss professional.

Create a bubble around yourself where the phrase, "Just a, bird, rabbit..." is disallowed.

An assertive statement might be, "She was much more than that to me."

Ask for practical support, just as you would expect if a human being had died: help with meals, transportation and funeral planning.

2. Allow yourself to genuinely grieve. Let the tears flow. Anger is also part of coping with death; work it out at the gym, in a journal, with paints or even by ripping newspapers apart. There is no time line for grief. It will come in waves and have its own cycles.

3. Take extra good care of yourself. Nutrition, exercise, hygiene, sleep, vehicle maintenance and a social life are vital. Keeping up these basics will help you get through the grief. If you can afford to hire house cleaning help, book a massage or take a cab when you feel too down to drive safely, please do so.

4. Support children through the loss. Ask them to express how they feel. Provide art materials so they don't have to find the "right" words. Tell neighbours and teachers, so they may expect sadness or anger.

Be honest with your child. Tell them their pet died, and that this painful fact is part of life. They didn't go to sleep, get taken by God, or run away. These concepts upset and confuse children. They may feel responsible for the loss of their pet, and fear both sleep and God. Tell them they'll see their pet again according to your belief system: in Heaven, at the Rainbow Bridge, in Nature, in another form, etc.

5. Hold off on drastic actions. If seeing your pet's toys, dishes, etc. is difficult, put them away in a safe place. Don't throw them out, as you may regret this. Give yourself time to work through the initial crushing emotions.

6. Wait to adopt a new pet. It's natural to want to salve your emotions, but you're best to give a new addition to your family careful consideration. It's very common in the initial stages of grief, that we try to find a "replacement." Of course your precious pet can't be replaced. If you make a hasty decision, you may find it's unfair to both you and the new animal. Both of you deserve a well considered relationship.

7. One of the best remedies for grief is to be with others who are grieving. Find a pet loss group, or simply open the subject with other pet owners. Almost everyone who has a pet, has also lost pets. They'll understand.

Shelter pets are usually in a state of bewilderment and grief. They don't understand why they've been abandoned by those they love most. If the thought of volunteering to give a grieving animal a bit of play time and sunshine doesn't drop you to you knees, try it out. When you are ready for a new pet, I guarantee they'll show up at just the right time.

8. When you're ready, create a memorial. Treasure your companion's memory with a scrapbook, special photo album, altar or garden.

9. Give yourself a break. While grieving is necessary, so is resting from grief. Linger in places that don't remind you of your pet. Unless yours was a service animal, they probably didn't go everywhere with you. Linger a bit longer at the coffee shop, read a book or use a computer in the library, stay a few minutes more at the pool.

10. Study and seek spiritual perspectives on pet loss and grief. Rainbow Bridge contact can be immensely comforting, as can reading literature discussing the fact that pets have souls. Write down dreams about your pet. These are often actual visits.

Note any impressions you have that your dear companion is contacting you: a vivid dream, the unusual appearance of a butterfly or other natural phenomenon, a fleeting glimpse of them from the corner of your eye. Our pets will seek to contact and comfort us. We need only be open and observe their messages.

I hope these ten tips have been helpful for you. In my experience, we never stop missing the soft fur or feathers, the wise and loving eyes. However, we can take care of ourselves and also reach out to our dear companions in the spirit world for assistance. The excruciating initial pain does heal.

I'm accepting submissions for my new book, My Dear Companion: Communicate With Your Pet at the Rainbow Bridge. Tell me your story: I'd appreciate a brief account of your experience with pet loss for my upcoming book. You don't have to be a professional writer, and your story doesn't need a beginning or end. Just something you experienced related to coping with grief, spirit world contact, creating a memorial, supporting surviving pets and children, etc. Your contribution will help many other grieving pet lovers, and you will be credited. Please contact me through my website:

Listen to Reisa on PAWsitive Radio- what an incredible conversation we had:

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