When I was 11 years old, a stray, terrier-mix puppy was sitting on our back porch when I got home from school one night. I fed him some peanut butter. In spite of the abysmal meal, he decided to stay and become my dear friend and playmate. I named him Skippy.
Skippy was a smart dog. One of his favorite games was hunting for Easter eggs. He’d search through the house, find the eggs behind/underneath furniture, gently pick them up in his mouth and (eventually) return them to me. I could tell Skippy things I’d say to no other being on earth. He understood my moods and knew just the right way to comfort me or make me laugh when that was needed. Even though he died over 20 years ago, I still miss him and occasionally dream about him.
Losing an animal companion is a painful experience that non-animal-lovers simply may not understand. The bonds we form with these amazing creatures run deep, often deeper than our human relationships. When that animal is no longer with us, the grief can be unexpectedly strong.
Having spent much of my career helping people deal with the loss or impending loss of their human companions, it occurred to me that not enough support is available for those who are dealing with the loss of an animal companion.
I also realized that the much of the same process that had proven so helpful in dealing with human loss would also apply to dealing with the loss of a beloved animal. These include:
- Becoming familiar with the stages of a healthy grief process, which gives us a sense of perspective for the pain we experience
- Releasing any guilt or judgment we hold concerning our loved one’s final days
- Having our story fully and deeply heard so that we move through the grief and eventually move on to the next chapter of our lives
- Performing rituals that help us honor and celebrate the life of our companion
- Connecting with the place within us that our friend awakened so that the essence of their presence will remain in our awareness always.
This is the basic approach I use when working with anyone experiencing the loss of a loved one, whether that loved one is human, avian, canine, equine or feline. In addition, I am also interested in exploring with you the life wisdom that animal friends can impart, even after they leave us. Our non-human companions awaken us to unconditional love, instill a Zen-like equanimity concerning life and death, exemplify living without guilt or judgment, and invite us to flow with the Life that breathes us all into existence and yet continues gloriously on after we depart this world.
I am here to help you navigate this territory and would be honored to walk with you through your grief to a place of peace and resolution. Please contact me if you would like:
- One-on-one support as you seek to deal with the loss or impending loss of your animal companion.
- Email notification of pet remembrance events and pet loss support gatherings in which we celebrate the happy memories of our animal friends, acknowledge our loss, and engage in rituals together than help us integrate the gifts they gave us while also moving forward with a sense of their presence and blessing. These events are free of charge (donations welcome).
Blessings and peace, Scott