Below are 3 articles to help deal with and understand grief.
ARTICLE 1 : grieving For The Loss Of A Pet
ARTICLE 2 : A metaphor For Grief
ARTICLE 3 : Things NOT To Say To Someone Who Is Grieving
ARTICLE 1 : Grieving For The Loss Of A Pet
For many of us the love we have for our pets runs very deep. For many people the unconditional love they receive from an animal companion is their only meaningful relationship. They enrich our lives in so many ways. They give us a purpose in difficult times, are loyal companions, miss us when we leave and they are a calm and loving presence in our families.
"Our pets inspire us mentally physically and emotionally and make us better as human beings. There is a lot of bad in the world and they only bring good" Noel Fitzpatrick Supervet.
The relationship we have with our pets is probably the purest and easiest relationship we have. It it understandable then that the grief we feel when we lose them is as devastating.
What is grief?
Grief is an intense and complex response to loss of something in which we developed a strong affection or bond. Your journey through life and how you are put together as a person will be a strong influence on how you experience grief, making it a unique experience. It is a deep emotional response but it can also have significant physical symptoms too and taking care of yourself at this time is important.
Your grief can be made up of shock, denial, despair, loneliness, depression, anxiety, anger and hopefully eventual acceptance. This may all be compounded by feelings of guilt and second guessing if you put your pet to sleep or had to re-home them. Take comfort knowing you are most likely to pass through all stages of grief, but keep in mind that because grief and grieving is a hugely personal experience, it may not follow a set pattern or time frame. Our own grief comes from memories, feelings and thoughts about who we have lost, wrapped up in what they meant to us and how they made us feel.
Dealing With Pet Grief
Even though there are no easy long term fixes for alleviating grief, there are certainly things we can do to make things a little easier.
Talk about them with friends or other pet owners.
Look at photographs.
Avoid quick fixes like alcohol.
Keep up your routine.
Try to get lots of sleep.
Cry when you need to.
Create a memory box or memorial.
Expect many around you to not understand and offer well meaning but low value advice.
Be kind to yourself while you are grieving, give yourself time to heal and allow yourself to be selfish. If you need to shut out the World then do so, if it helps to be with around people who give you comfort then call on them.
Memorials For Pets
A memorial of some kind can be beneficial. A significant place to take your grief and hopefully receive some temporary relief in the early days. As time passes, hopefully the memorial experience changes from a place of relief to something more positive.
The memorial may just be a park bench where you sat and watched them be happy or something more formal. If you cremated your pet, we offer a biodegradable urn for your pets ashes along with tree saplings to provide a permanent living memorial that hopefully makes it feel less of a loss.
Our pet urns and tree saplings can be purchased here -
Further Support For Dealing With The Loss Of A Pet
If you are struggling with the loss of your pet there are places listed below for support -
ARTICLE 2 : A metaphor For Grief
I once read a powerful article that related a shipwreck to the experience of grief and grieving. Our experience of being bereaved are all uniquely personal to us, who we are, how we see the world and also the circumstances of the death can play a part in how we grieve. It seems though, that many people relate to the symbolism of a shipwreck to be a way of describing the complexity of emotions surrounding it.
If you have ever lived through the death of someone close and experienced the emotional turmoil and devastation it causes then the metaphor of a ship being smashed on the rocks may be something you can relate to also.
The first darkest stages of grief are the most shocking and disorientating, our ship has been battered and torn apart by the rocks and we find ourselves drowning amongst the wreckage. In these early days we simultaneously move between great pain and numbness whilst we struggle to catch our breath. The towering waves of grief are high above and behind us and when they crash they take us down, deep into despair to a depth that we cannot imagine ever surfacing from.
Surrounded by the wreckage we cling on to whatever we can to survive the hours and the days of this first stage of grief, this might be a loved one or a piece of clothing or just something of theirs that we can hold on to in an attempt to stay afloat. But regardless of our life rafts, the towering waves keep crashing upon us in what feels like a constant onslaught of overwhelming emotions. All we can do is float, survive and hang on whilst the world around us seems to carry on as normal.
Eventually over time we begin to be able to take a deeper breath in between the waves that crash into us. We have passed through those foggy and anaesthetised days and weeks following the death and we may find we have moments of quiet within the turmoil as we begin to attempt to function again. The waves of despair are still crashing upon us however, just with less frequency, they still drag us to dark places and give us that ache in the chest that only grief seems able to do. But in between these waves we learn to breathe again as we slowly swim for the shore and return to our familiar life.
It is a changed shoreline however, ravaged by the debris of the shipwreck and we are changed irrevocably as a result of the loss, so when we do find our way back to dry land we can feel anxious by this unfamiliar new world. Keep those familiar objects and people close by in this new world as they will provide comfort and a connection to the life we lived before.
It might take weeks or months for us to drag ourselves out of the ocean of grief and onto the shore. We all pass through these stages of grief in our own time and can often move backwards and forwards as we continue to grieve. A storm may hit and drag us back into the water, usually a trigger that makes us feel as if the loss has only just happened, and again we are left fighting for breath. These triggers, like their birthday, or the anniversary of their death can put us right back into the eye of the storm again wondering how we will survive. But we do survive. In time the storm will pass, hold tightly onto that thought.
We never get used to losing someone we love and we shouldn't. It should be something that matters, that changes us, not something we become accustomed too. It never gets easier, the pain we experience is because of the love and relationship we have with them, and when we lose them it should leave a void, a hole in our life and a scar on our heart.
As a way of providing comfort, a memorial tree buried with the ashes of your loved one is a way of keeping them close when they feel so lost to us. Nurturing the new life of a beautiful tree can be a way of focusing your emotions into something positive and allows you to care for and be close to the part of them that lives on in the branches and leaves of your remembrance tree.
If you have been affected by anything mentioned in this article and you would like to speak to someone about it, you can talk to the samaritans anonymously, or cruse bereavement care for support.
ARTICLE 3 : Things NOT To Say To Someone Who Is Grieving
"They had a good innings"
The death of a friend, partner or parent is very painful regardless of how old they were, it doesn't make it easier that they died late in their life. It might bring comfort in the future to remember all the years and memories you had with someone that lived to a ripe old age but when we lose them we want comfort, not to be told it should be somehow easier because they lived for many years.
"They are in a better place"
Are they? What is this based on? This statement is usually based on the speakers own belief system and may not bring any comfort to the grieving family. We cannot assume that what may bring some comfort to ourselves would actually help someone who is bereaved.
"Will you try for another child?"
This is an unbelievably insensitive thing to say, but it has been said and probably needs no explanation as to why this would be so painful to hear.
"At least you have your other children
Each child has their own unique personality and character, losing them is a gut wrenching and heartbreaking experience that we grieve for probably for the rest of our lives, there is very little that would give comfort to a family that is grieving for a child, no words that would help. It is ok to say that you cannot imagine what they must be feeling and to offer any help you can.
"Can I take the set of drawers they promised me?"
The death of a family member can often bring other family issues to the surface, the divvying up of a persons belongings needs to be handled sensitively and with much thought. There is plenty of time to deal with who has been promised what at a later stage.
"It was only a Dog | Cat | Horse!"
Not everyone understands the depth of love we can feel for our pets or animal companions, if we do not share this love then we should try to understand that other people do and we could hurt them if we belittle their grief.
"Are you not over it yet?"
Grief is a personal journey that can take months or many years to process the loss we have experienced. There is no set time to be 'over it' and we should not apply any limits to how long we may grieve for our loss.
"I bet your are relieved now aren't you?"
A great many people, of all age groups care for a member of their family on a daily basis. This demanding and emotionally challenging role takes its toll on the carer as it impacts on every part of their life. It is possible and probably likely to feel some relief when a loved one has passed away, especially if they were very ill or in pain, however it can come along with a lot of guilt feelings as we process our grief. Being confronted by what another person expects us to feel can make things more painful as we battle with all of our complex emotions at their passing.
"Will you adopt now?"
For many the silent and invisible grief felt alongside fertility treatments can feel as painful as losing a loved one. The assumption that after failed treatment people would immediately consider adopting a child is not only uncaring in response to their intense grief but also untimely and insensitive.
Things TO say to someone who is grieving
"I cannot imagine how you are feeling but I am here to listen and hellp"
"I have made you this food to put in your freezer so you do not have to cook for a while.."
"Can I help with anything?"
"Do you want to try and get some sleep while I make some phone calls for you?"
"Take your time coming to terms with this"
"Don't rush back to work"
"I am here for you if you need to talk"