Family Pet - Golden Retriever

Dealing with the loss of a beloved pet!- Losing a pet can be devastating and heartbreaking. Your pet offers you unconditional love and companionship and when that ends your heart hurts. Whether you’re pet dies of old age or suddenly due to illness or injury it is important to honor that life and all the joy and memories they brought to your life, to your family and to the world.

All pets matter and the grief we feel when they die is real and important. No one likes to see their friend or loved one in pain but often offering a listening ear and some help in planning a memorial can be a wonderful way to show your understanding and care. Planning a time of remembrance gives the grieving an opportunity to look inwards when the world around them might feel chaotic and unmanageable. This ceremony can be very simple or more elaborate, here are a few ideas on what to include.

In his book Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet, Gary Kowalski suggests a four-part memorial gathering or as some call it a celebration of life:

  1. Centering Ourselves: Take a moment to breath and center yourself and the group gathered in a way that speaks to your beliefs. Whether you use a meditation, a reading or just a moment of silence, your goal is to invite everyone to be present in this moment.
  2. Acknowledging Our Loss: As difficult as it is to see a friend or loved one grieving, it is important that they acknowledge the loss and that you are present with them. Encourage those grieving to express their sadness, to put words to their pain. Share what loss feels like and how it affects you. There are readings and music which can help convey the feeling of desolation and sorrow. Tears can be a part of grieving as well as anger and denial, so give some space to express the emotions being felt.
  3. Honoring Our Memories: This is an opportunity for you to give thanks for this life, to offer stories of this beloved pet. Tell the stories that make you smile, the stories of the love this pet brought into the lives of those who loved and cared for them. Opening this section and all sections up to all those who gathered. You may want to let your friends and family who may join you for this memorial know they will have an opportunity to share their personal stories about this pet.
  4. Expressing Our Hope: What is your hope for the future, how has that vision been forever changed by your pet and the love you shared. Experiencing loss often causes one to reflect on others and how to be more caring and more hopeful. Do you look forward to another pet? Are you amazed when something reminds you of your pet?

Heidi Jakoby

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