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I’m excited to announce another article of mine has made it to the presses! Check it out at the “Grief Digest” magazine site. This will get you started:

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[18 Oct 2010 | No Comment | ]
Pet Loss Grief is a Valid EmotionBy Sid Korpi
Myriad studies have shown that having an animal companion in your life is just plain good for you. Blood pressure is lowered, loneliness is diminished, psychological stress is reduced, social interactions and communication are enhanced, exercise may increase, and so on. Physical, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial benefits to animal interaction abound, as the following examples show.
As baby boomers age and become increasingly isolated senior citizens, cherished pets may be the only constant companions of the elderly. Many assisted living establishments, nursing homes and hospice centers recognize the benefits …

See the Grief Digest link for the rest of the story.

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If there is one tiny bit of positiveness to come from the Gulf oil spill, it is that compassion for animals (both wildlife and domestic pets) seems to be on the rise. I was touched by the mission of the Sumralls, below. Every time someone creates an environment like theirs to support and sustain the bereaved animal lover, humanity’s collective soul improves just a little bit.—Sid

Pet funeral home opens on Mississippi Gulf Coast

NICOLE DOW, The Sun Herald
Published: 04:00 a.m., Monday, August 2, 2010

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — Linda and Glynn Sumrall care about pets. So much that they opened A Pet’s Memory, a pet funeral home and crematory in Gulfport, so owners would have such a facility after the loss of a pet.

“They can sit down and talk to someone where their loss isn’t trivialized,” Linda Sumrall said.

The Sumralls came up with the idea for the business after thinking about what they would do if they lost any of their pets. The family has three golden retrievers — 11-year-old Cindy, 5-year-old Maggie and Molly, who is 2-1/2.

“When we were planning, I thought of how we would want to be treated,” she said.

Linda’s husband, Glynn, said they treat each animal that comes in as if it was their own.

“We meet people on a really bad day and try to make it better,” he said.

The Sumralls started the pet crematory business at the end of June. Before that, Linda had a pet pooper scooper service.

“That shows how much I’m into pets,” she said.

Glynn still works with the U.S. Postal Service.

In 2008, the Sumralls started the Pet Oxygen Recovery Mask Program to supply fire stations throughout Hancock, Harrison, Jackson and Stone counties with reusable oxygen masks to aid pets after a fire.

Linda Sumrall said she started the program after watching the news and hearing a story about a house fire in Gulfport. The family and their dog was rescued, but the pet had taken in too much smoke into its lungs and died, she said.

That’s when she made some calls and discovered that local fire trucks weren’t equipped with oxygen masks to fit pets.

“I thought for sure that the cities would have them,” Sumrall said.

The family decided to raise money to supply the pet oxygen masks to the fire stations across the Coast by hosting car washes and collecting donations from individuals and businesses.

“We’ve donated 66 sets,” Sumrall said. She said they have 32 more to go to supply all 98 stations with a set.

The family is now accepting donations at their pet funeral home. After they finish raising money for the oxygen masks, Sumrall said future funds raised will be donated to the Humane Society.

Sumrall said it was no easy task going from the idea of their business venture to opening the facility.

“It’s taken 2-1/2 years to get this business open,” she said.

Picking the right location was a challenge. They had to have the right permits and certifications and be located in an area suitable to the city and surrounding businesses. A Pet’s Memory is now located on 28th Street in Gulfport. Sumrall said she wanted to have a facility that was dignified and respectable.

The crematory is located onsite where pet owners can arrange a private viewing. The equipment used is similar to what a local funeral home uses, Sumrall said.

Cremation costs are based upon the weight of the animal. Sumrall said the cost of a private cremation starts around $80 and can range to about $210 for heavier pets. A Pet’s Memory has cremated cats and dogs as well as more unusual pets such as a bearded dragon lizard, a guinea pig and a ferret.

The first pet the family cremated was formerly one of their own. Sam, a golden retriever from their dog Maggie’s litter, was killed by a car when he was 2 1/2 years old. His remains are in an urn at the pet funeral home.

A Pet’s Memory Pet Funeral Home and Crematory also sells caskets for families who prefer to bury their pets at home instead of cremating them.

At the funeral home, the Sumralls have set up a “last moment room” where families can say their final goodbyes to their pets.

“A lot of tears are shed,” Sumrall said. “Men have cried, too.”

Sumrall has been certified as a pet bereavement counselor by the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. She said she has taken the equivalent of 10 college courses. She also lends her time as an online pet loss counselor for the organization.

“Grief is real, and grief hurts,” she said.

Sumrall said the service her business provides is something that was needed on the Mississippi Coast.

“I’m honored to do this,” she said.

___

Information from: The Sun Herald, http://www.sunherald.com

//

I don’t typically bash or even criticize another author’s work, but when I read the article highlighted below, I became more than a little irked. I commented on the site as follows:

I champion Ms. Litzinger’s efforts to fill the need of an important niche, grieving animal lovers. In writing my own book on the subject, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” I heard innumerable times of how much more difficult the process was for people to get through simply because of the dismissive attitudes of much of our society.

I must admit, as I read this article, I felt somewhat put off by what appeared to be a flippant tone used by the author. It doesn’t take a genius at reading between the lines to perceive the writer found the concept of providing counseling services to grieving pet owners to be a bit on the silly side. Quotes like “A Pennsylvania pet loss website (who knew?)…”; “…pet grief counseling differs from human grief counseling—besides referring to the deceased as Buster or Whiskers, of course”; and “This unique, uh, undertaking …” sounds like scoffing smart-assery to me. The subject deserves serious attention, and at least Ms. Litzinger’s quotes give it the proper tone, but the I-think-I’m-so-witty writer here does aptly portray the prevailing ignorant, insensitive sentiments out there.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Eric Heyl column: Western Pennsylvania woman finds purrfect niche

Read it for yourself and let me know if it struck you the same way. —Sid

It’s often quite difficult knowing what to do or say to help a friend through the pain of pet loss. I came across this article by Kali Winters and appreciated her suggestions. I found these ideas quite apropos and wanted to share them with you. See also my Pet Memorial Products listings page for more ideas.—Sid Korpi

Each person handles loss differently and the loss of a pet is no exception. A simple gift basket containing several sentimental items is a wonderful way to show someone you care and extend your deepest sympathies for his loss.

A Memory Box

A memory box is a wonderful item to include in a gift basket for pet loss. It can hold photos of the pet, the pet’s collar and certificates of birth and/or death. Often times a pet owner will keep some of her pet’s personal items and having a beautifully crafted box to keep them in will be appreciated.

Personalized Cards

A card with a personal note is a great way to add that sentimental touch to your gift basket. You can also find poems on pet loss and include one inside the card.

Inspirational Book

A book of inspirational pet stories or a book on pet loss can be included in the gift basket. If you are not sure which book to choose, simply give a gift card to an online bookstore or, if you are near each other, choose a local bookstore.

Personalized Items

If you are able to get a hold of a photo of the pet, you can have that photo put on a mug, a tote bag, mouse pad, or even a shirt. Many places online will personalize items. Personalized calendars are very popular as well and if you have access to several photos of the pet, having a calendar made is a wonderful gesture.

Figurines

If you do not have a photo of the pet but you know what type of breed the pet was, you can include a figurine of that breed in the gift basket. Go a step further and have it personalized with the pet’s name.

Photo Album

A blank photo album is perfect for the pet owner to use to keep photos of her pet. Offer to help her go through photos and add them to the photo album. This is a wonderful way to show your support and it gives her a chance to look through photos and be able to talk to talk about the pet and recall fond memories. This may even stir up some heart-felt laughter.

Tissues

A box of tissues show that you understanding of the magnitude of the loss and that it is okay to mourn.

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