Pet Loss – The Devastion and The Healing After

300x180“When your heart is broken after the death of your beloved pet, it is hard to find hope or to adjust to daily life without your animal friend.”  That’s how I felt after the loss of my little Dachshund Turby I mentioned in the last post.

A capture of this book description Healing Pet Loss: Practical Steps for Coping and Comforting Messages from Animals and Spirit Guides (Healing Pet Loss Series) by Marianne Soucy caught my attention as I was searching to find some guidance. This Book was written to help heal your heart, bring comfort, inspiration, and suggestions for coping with situations surrounding pet loss.

I had not expected such amazing comfort and spirited uplift reading Marianne’s reassuring words. She has a gift to use her spiritual wisdom in providing concrete steps that help in the healing. It was even uplifting. I wish I had prepared myself better while my dog was failing and his death nearing.

We anticipate intense sadness but not an emotional conflict or guilt that might surprise you as it can different from losing a close family member or friend. This is why I want to share some insights I gained from various sources to help you when facing a loss of your pet or when comforting others.

To lose a pet is most devastating!

Whether the loss is sudden or the result of an illness or debilitating condition, it is a hard reality, often overwhelming. The impact could be even  greater than the loss of a family member or friend.

“How could the loss hurt even more than the death of my grandmother? Am I the only one who feels this way?” I asked myself while feeling guilty, confused and embarrassed.

A moving article: The Death of Pet Can Hurt as Much as the Loss of a Relative by Joe Yonan, the Washington Post’s Food and Travel editor, reassured me that I was not alone in feeling the conflicts. Yonan wrote:

I’m no stranger to death. I was a mess of anger and confusion when my father, suffering the aftermath of a stroke, took his last gasps one day in 1995, his children gathered around his hospital bed. And three years later, the death of my sweet, beloved sister Bonny after a withering battle with brain cancer was nothing short of heartbreaking. Yet somehow, and much to my distress, the death of my dog seems even harder. I haven’t felt grief quite like this since, well, the death of my previous dog five years ago.

In his further search to better understand his emotions, Yonan found that multiple studies revealed different answers to reactions of the death of a companion animal: “. . .  it can be ‘just as devastating as the loss of a human significant other,’ not quite as severe, ‘far more intense’ or, well, just about the same.”

The Healing

You can’t sleep, you can’t stop crying. You are so scared that tomorrow no one will understand why you are such a mess and that someone might think she was ‘just a dog’. All you want is your best buddy back.  You may find yourself very alone.

It takes time to heal. Experienced veterinarians understand that pet owners’ grief vary widely in intensity and longevity. Complex emotions are natural reactions to the known stages of grief that may involve  guilt, denial, anger and depression, though not necessarily in that order.

You will find many coping strategies in the literature. I summarized a few to point out reassuring directions and understanding to support the natural healing process:

  1. Feel the pain and celebrate the love you shared. Have a loving conversation of all the memories together with your pet. Write a journal or letter. And allow your tears to flow.
  2. Seek support from people who have experienced the loss of their loving pet and know what it feels like. They will be most understanding.
  3. Avoid people who never had a pet. Or, if they did, they were not closely connected. Though well-intentioned, they might think that losing a pet cannot be such a big deal and urge you to: “get over it!”  Such well-meaning support will only enhance your loneliness.
  4. Understand that intense and often conflicting emotions during your initial grief is natural and normal. If it becomes unbearable or you just can’t get a handle on your emotions, seek support from your vet, or a counselor who specializes in grieving pet owners, or contact a Pet Loss Support Hotline.

Realize that losing a pet and the healing process that follows is also a loving and deeply spiritual journey of a fun life you shared and can celebrate. Each time I envision Turby’s happily wagging tail and his bright and big brown eyes begging for that special treat, I smile.

Here are a few additional resources I found most helpful:

The death of pet can hurt as much as the loss of a relative by Joe Yonan

Pet Grief Recovery – The Stages of Grief

Coping with a Dog’s Death   (Cesars Way)

Read more:

The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, Inc. (APLB)

American Veterinary Medical Association: Pet Loss Support Hotlines

Coping with the loss of a pet explains well the stages of grieving, though they may vary with each individual.

A wonderful resource to seek comfort and reassurance to help healing after a pet loss. It offers a newsletter, blog, articles all about grief and stories

 

Spring Walk After a Broken Heart

Spring walk III 350x260Spring!  Bright light breaking through. For many of you the winter was long, cold and treacherous at times.

This morning let me share my daily walk with you in my favorite park. It is a beautiful crisp, bright sunny day. It is here where I rekindle life within me and cleanse my soul. I have walked this path for many years through all seasons. Each is a new discovery.

Spring walk II 350x260

It has been long since I shared with you here in this Fun, Fit and Healthy Grandma community. Too long!

But when faced with life challenges, we easily close down and inward to cope while searching for our strength. This is what happened.

resize 375x269February – My little buddy and companion Turby, a miniature dachshund 17+ years old, gave all signs that it was time to go to sleep in peace. Four years ago he became blind and deaf; then, increasingly dependent, weak and frail. Turby loved this park and left his many markings on nearly every tree. This was a last picture, Oct. 2013.

128px-Broken_heartOne week later – “You had a heart attack, not a common one caused by a blockage, fortunately a mild one. It is an over-stressed heart, a failing heart,” the doctor said while I was tied to tubes and beeping monitors in the emergency room. “A failing heart? A stressed heart? That can’t be. I am a healthy person feeling fit most of the time! And I just finished half the training for a 10K race. Sure, I had to deal with stressful situations! But who has not?” I argued in disbelief and felt defeated.   “I am not finished with life yet,” I thought as I was silently overcome with fear and uncertainty.

Final diagnosis –Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy” or ”Broken Heart Syndrome.” A heart damage, only recently more recognized and researchers are paying attention. It is often fatal and happens to mostly menopausal and post-menopausal women who have experienced intense or sudden stress.

Naturally, I had to understand the magnitude of this serious women’s health issue, especially afflicting senior women. Since I am feeling better now, I am in the process of writing an informational book about this heart condition, how we can help each other and become a strong advocate for research, early detection and prevention: “When the Heart Strikes!”

The daily walks in the park has been my healing, especially at the awakening of spring. And I encourage you to do the same when down, when recovering, or whatever in your life pulls you back.

Nature talks to us in so many subtle ways and releases powerful healing energy. It shows us the beauty of life renewal. I had to bend down to really see these little delicate stars or the cracked shell of a bird’s egg.

Spring 350x260    Bird egg 350x260

Enjoy your spring walks if you can. If not, enjoy nature from your window or garden, or pictures.

Can You Achieve True Wellness?

Yes, you can!

The winter has been long and brutal for many this year. Spring is still far away. Depending where you live, you may be shoveling snow or have to deal with icy roads. Your nose is stuffy, your head feels heavy and you are just not feeling up-to-par. That’s the time you just like to snuggle up with something hot to drink and a good book. I did exactly that. I grabbed a book long neglected on my shelf: The 22 {Non-Negotiable} Laws of Wellness by Greg Anderson.

You may ask why would I choose a book about Laws of Wellness instead of an exciting novel or mystery book to carry me into a world of endless imagination? And why would I now try to convince you to pick up this book, read it or read it again and keep it always near you to refer back to it? [Read more…]

Walking or Running for Meg: A Community Mourns!

crop 400x200Throughout the years we grandparents accumulate a rich repertoire of life experience: highest  joys and deepest sorrows; gains and losses.  We learn to deal with harsh realities in life that make us stronger, more resilient, and wiser.  But we never get used to tragic events that touch our core: FAMILY – families of our children and grandchildren. Such events force us to stop, reflect, and deal with emotions that overwhelm us.

A shock wave traveled fast through our small community in Virginia:  “Meg Cross Menzies was tragically killed by a drunk driver while out for her morning run on January 13, 2014. Meg was an avid runner, member of the Richmond Road Runners Club, and Boston marathoner, she was a member of the running family nationwide.” She was a mother of three young beautiful children. [Read more…]

Winter Blues or Feeling Down? Suggestions to Quickly Claim Your ‘Self’ Back.

new year conceptThe New Year is in full gear and it is freezing in many regions of the country.  The days are still short – dark in the morning and dark early in the evening. The holidays are behind us.  Many of us are left with a gift of extra five pounds, signs of the holiday left-over goodies.  An easy prescription for the so-called ‘winter blues.’

To make matters worse, this morning I heard on the radio the host announcing that January 6th is a “Depressing Day” – back to work, holiday bills piling up and tax forms reminding us of the famous or infamous April 15 tax day ahead.  Just listening to the announcer almost gave me the ‘winter blues.’ [Read more…]

The Day I Fell in Love With a Kindle!

Depositphotos_4048892_xsAre you a book lover? Is one of your best treats to browse around in the bookstore? Read in a comfy chair with a nice book and a cup of coffee or tea? Yes, I believe most of us grandmothers are. We did not grow up with electronic gadgets – in this case, with an eReader. The word did not even exist!

Just browse the Amazon site under eBook Readers and the variety of eReaders with accessories is mind-boggling. The most Ereaderspopular types of eReaders and household names today are the Kindle and the Nook. I will continue to refer to a Kindle as a general term as eReader.

How in the world could one fall in love with a Kindle? An electronic gadget that takes away the feel of a book? [Read more…]

The Joy of Teaching Grandchildren to Knit

KnittingLooking for a perfect Holiday Gift for your grandchildren?

Knitting with my grandmother were the best times! She was fast; she knew every pattern, how to fix my totally messed up loops or cast-on disaster. And so I learned and loved it. I remember knitting all kinds of cute outfits, scarves and hats for my dolls and later advanced to more ambitious projects, like a sweater, socks or even finger mittens. Just the various gorgeous bright colors and feel of soft textured yarn was and still is an absolute delight. I am still amazed what we can create with simple manipulations of just two long needles and a roll of yarn!  [Read more…]

Holiday Magic Begins – Thanksgiving is Near!

350x260 pumpkin1Magic is in the air, bright fall colors announce the holiday season. Thanksgiving is knocking on the door. Good smells begin to fill the kitchen.

What a great time to share with the grandchildren our memories wherever they are or we are! It’s especially during the holiday season when we grandparents can shine and have great fun with the kids. We just have to start saying: “When I was your age, I  still remember the most delicious smell coming from the oven before Thanksgiving . . . it was a special spice my mom, your grandmother, used to bake apples.” [Read more…]

50 Years Ago – A Day of Shock Remembered: JFK Assassinated.

350x229 John_F_Kennedy_1964_Issue-5cWe all know the  ever-burning light on J.F. Kennedy’s resting place but not everyone was alive or too young when it was lid.
“Where were you?” was the question today among many of us – boomers and pre-boomers – old enough to remember. Or, our children, grandchildren or the young who are curious ask us.

And so the question circled in the women’s locker room at the YMCA. A group of us had just finished a water aerobics class. Most of us are old enough to remember this day 50 years ago. The conversation became lively.  Everyone shared some brief memories of the moment. But Elsa shared a vivid picture of the common mood everyone recalled: shock, stunned, disbelief, intense grief, almost despair. [Read more…]

National Grandparents Day

320px-Myosotis_victoria_dsc00894Today we celebrate National Grandparents Day – a wonderful day of celebrating a three-generation family tree, filled with wisdom and resolve of life.

I included a picture of Forget-me-not. This brilliant spring flower is the official flower of U.S. Grandparents’ Day. It symbolizes so well, as I see it, the relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren. Grandchildren awaken a new spring in us grandparents with their infectious exuberance and zest for life. [Read more…]