Tag Archives: Grieve Alone

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Losing A Beloved Pet

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Words can’t describe how it feels to lose a pet. For many, a furry friend is a beloved member of their family. For others, their pet is the only family they have. Often when a pet passes away, people resort to incorrect mechanisms to deal with the grief. Sometimes they even attempt to replace the pet immediately. Unfortunately, there is little effective guidance for grieving pet owners. As a result, many pet grievers either isolate themselves or pretend like “everything is fine” for fear of being judged or criticized – especially by non-pet owners.

Another problem is that friends and family don’t know what to say to someone who lost their pet. Oftentimes they resort to statements that are not helpful at all to the griever like:

“It was only a dog (cat, fish, lizard, etc).”

“Don’t feel bad you can always get another dog (cat, fish, lizard, etc).”

“Just give it time and you won’t remember your dog (cat, fish, lizard, etc) anymore.”

In fact these statements are not useful at all. They are almost cruel. They actually break a grieving pet owner’s heart into a million more pieces. This is why many grieving pet owners often choose not to share their pain with anyone. Non-pet owners just wouldn’t understand the special bond they shared with their pet. They wouldn’t understand the feeling of unconditional love they received on a daily basis. It’s just too hard to explain so pet grievers find it easier to just bottle it up inside.

My first real experience with the death of a pet was when I was about 11 years old.  We were living in England and had “adopted” a local cat and her kittens who were wandering around our neighborhood. One of the kittens was completely black. I fell in love with him. I called him Blackie. Blackie went everywhere with me. He had a collar and a leash and we would walk around the neighborhood, go to the park, and ride together in the car. We were inseparable. Then one day my parents told me that Blackie was sick and wasn’t going to get better. Not get better? How was that possible? He was just a kitten and hadn’t even gone through one of his nine lives yet. This couldn’t be happening. I had no idea he was sick. I was completely devastated.

After my parents told me Blackie was going to die, I remember sitting with him in the living room. I just held him while the saddest song from the Disney movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” played on the record player. I played that song over and over again. I just held Blackie  while listening to the sad music. I cried and cried. I didn’t understand how he got sick or why he was sick (my parents told me he had feline leukemia). The next day he was gone. I just knew my heart was broken.

Here is the song “Hushabye Mountain” I played to Blackie over and over again (Note: This is more proof that time doesn’t heal grief because I cried just like I was 11 years old again while posting this video):

The heartbreak and pain stuck with me for a long time. Having other cats around didn’t make it easier. In fact it didn’t help. It just made me miss him even more. The others cats weren’t my Blackie. Blackie was my cat. Blackie was my best friend. I could talk to him about everything. My school. My sister. My parents. My friends. He listened and just cuddled up to me as if to say it would all be okay. I felt so alone.

Now that I think about it, I am glad I allowed myself to openly grieve for Blackie. From what I can remember, my family was supportive. They didn’t make me feel like I was doing something wrong or that I needed to get over it. They let me play Hushabye Mountain over and over again. I am very thankful for this because their support helped set the stage for how I would face loss and grief over the years.

Here are some things we need to keep in mind when losing a pet:

  • In any household in which a pet has died, it is important to remember that each family member will have a different reaction to the loss. Each relationship to the pet was unique, so each person’s grief will be unique to them. This needs to be respected and honored. Never compare your reaction to that of another family member.
  • Talk openly and honestly about the loss. Trying to hide your feelings will only make it confusing – especially if you have children.
  • Don’t turn to short-term energy relieving behaviors (STERBs) – anger, alcohol, drugs, shopping, etc.- to deal with the loss. These only make you feel better for a little while and don’t help you to “complete” the relationship you had with your pet – i.e. face your grief.
  • Remember that although your pet is no longer here physically, we continue to have an emotional and spiritual relationship with them.  These aspects of the relationship need to be “complete” so memories of your pet don’t turn painful.
  • Being in pain over the death of your pet is not an expression of love. Completing what was left unfinished (especially if your pet died tragically – hit by a car, etc.), will get you out of the pain. You will still have sad and happy memories, but those memories will no longer turn painful.
  • Never use the word “guilt” or say that you “feel guilty.” Guilt implies intent to harm, and most pet owners would never do anything maliciously to harm their pet. A better descriptor would be “unresolved grief” – things you wish you had or hadn’t done with your pet. Unresolved grief is very different from guilt.
  • Think of those things you wish you could apologize for (“I am sorry I yelled at you when I got home from a bad day at work”), forgive (“I forgive you for ripping up my favorite pair of shoes”) or wished you had said to your pet (“I loved how you used to greet me when I came home. It was the best feeling in the world”).

If you are having a difficult time, you are not alone. The Grief Recovery Method®, through their Grief Recovery Handbook for Pet Loss, offers a structured action plan to help grieving pet owners discover and complete what was left emotionally unfinished and ultimately, have fond memories of your beloved pet not turn painful.

Click for the Grief Recovery Webinar: Dealing with the Death of Our Cherished Animal Companions

The webinar will:

  • Help you become aware of any grief-related myths that may be keeping you stuck in your grief.
  • Guide you to look at the pet losses that have affected your life, and see if they are still limiting you.
  • Encourage you to take actions to complete what is left emotionally unfinished for you.

Bottom line, grieve for your furry friend. Be sad. Remember the time you spent with them. Hold them in your heart forever.

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!


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grief diaries: surviving loss by suicide

Suicide Book in Popular Grief Diaries Series Earns Second Literary Award

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SEATTLE – Oct. 4, 2016 – PRLog — AlyBlue Media announced today that “Grief Diaries: Surviving Loss by Suicide” has won a second national literary award. The anthology is one title in the popular Grief Diaries book series created by Lynda Cheldelin Fell, an award-winning author and founder of the National Grief & Hope Coalition.

Named a Finalist by Book Excellence Awards hosted by Literary Excellence Inc., the silver medal award comes with a prize package worth $1,500. Entries are judged on the design and quality of writing.

Authored by Cheldelin Fell along with certified grief recovery specialist and reiki master Sharon Ehlers, the book features stories from 12 women whose lives have been impacted by the suicide of a loved one. The stories are shared to help others struggling with the same loss find comfort and healing, as well as help society gain greater understanding and insight.

“Every year we lose more than 42,000 loved ones to suicide just in the United States alone. Because the stigma surrounding such a death leads to underreporting, that number sadly is a low estimate,” said Cheldelin Fell. “It’s my hope that sharing these stories will bring greater awareness and help families and individuals who lose a loved one to suicide feel less alone in the aftermath.” A portion of proceeds from the sale of Grief Diaries: Surviving Loss by Suicide is donated to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The Grief Diaries series features true stories about real life journeys shared by people around the world. Since publishing the first eight titles in December 2015, more than 450 writers from across the globe have contributed, resulting in 16 titles in print in just nine months. According to AlyBlue Media, 14 additional titles are due by December and an additional 20 are slated to be published in 2017.

The series tackles a wide spectrum of topics including loss, alcoholism, addiction, mental illnesses, infertility, rape, eating disorders, bullying, and more. The series has earned acclaim from some of the world’s most notable experts including Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King; Candace Lightner, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving; and Carolyn Costin, founder of Monte Nido Treatment Centers. “The brave individuals who share their truth in this book do it for the benefit of all,” she said.

The Grief Diaries series is available in more than 40,000 retail outlets around the world. For more information about Grief Diaries, visit www.griefdiaries.com.

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power of love radio show

Power of Love Radio Show (9/7/16)

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For a second time, I was very honored and privileged to have been invited by the Dee Dee Jackson Foundation (DDJF) to appear on their Power of Love Radio Show to talk about grief and loss. The Power of Love Radio Show, broadcast on LA Talk Radio, shines a light on loss and grief and how it impacts our lives. It provides hope, resources and a community so no one feels alone in their grief.

Listen to the 9/7/16 broadcast archive here.

The Grief Recovery Method

The Grief Recovery Method® is an action program to move beyond death, divorce and other losses.  It was founded almost 30 years ago by John James and Russell Friedman. Grief Reiki, LLC leverages material developed by The Grief Institute®, which provides training coast-to-coast, border-to-border in the United States and Canada with affiliates in Australia, Mexico, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Some the things we spoke on the show about included what you can say to someone who is grieving:

“I can’t imagine how heartbreaking this must be for you.” – Grief is about a broken heart. How do you even begin to understand how that feels for your friend? This statement indicates that you respect how sad and difficult their grief must be for them.

“I really don’t know what to say.” – Words can’t even describe the feelings associated with grief. Saying you “don’t know what to say” is one of the most honest answers you can give. This way your friend knows you are not trying to judge, analyze or fix them.

“I am so sorry for your loss.” – Sorry in this sense means to be sad or mournful. It reminds your friend that you are also sad for their loss. It’s another way of answering them honestly. 

“Can I give you a hug?” – Virginia Satir, a respected family therapist, said “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Hugs reduce the amount of stress in our bodies. Grieving is one of the most stressful events in our lives. Offering a hug (or two) to your friend will be good for their emotional, physical and spiritual health.

“What happened?” – Grievers need and want tell their story. They want you to hear and understand to what they have to say about their loved one. Don’t avoid talking about them. The most loving thing you can do for your friend is to listen without judgement. Be a “heart with ears.”

Henri’s Personal Journey

The producer of the Power of Love Radio Show, Henri Hebert, talked about her own grief journey. She is currently going through the 7-week one-on-one Grief Recovery Method® educational program. She spoke about some of the things she had already learned in just two weeks of attending the class.  Things she now realizes had affected her over the last five years like moving, changing jobs, going through a romantic break-up and losing her best friend to brain cancer. Henri will be sharing more of her journey on future radio shows.

 

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Sending you love, comfort and peace!

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