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I just received this wonderful message about my book. Keep your collective fingers crossed that the board accepts the proposal to make my book part of their required curriculum! It’d be a dream come true for me to be instrumental in helping other animal chaplains prepare themselves for doing such important work. Whatever the final decision, I offer my sincerest thanks to Dr. Kris for her kind initiative.—Sid


Hi Sid — Dr. Kris Lecakes Haley from Emerson Theological Institute here — I just took a look at your book and you really did a phenomenal job on incredibly important topic!  I have been searching for a comprehensive text that contains all of the critical components of loss and you hit every single one.  I would like to submit your book to the school (Emerson) for consideration as one of the texts we use for the Bereavement component of our Animal Chaplain program. … Really exceptional job.

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From a letter I received from a reader:

Sid,

I read most of your book [the same night I got it]—couldn’t put it down, and I’ve already lent it to a friend. I should definitely get more in the future. It’s a great resource. It even helped with some more grieving I needed to do for my parents.

Again, thanks,

— Cristina O.

This letter exemplifies a key, yet perhaps unanticipated point about pet loss: When you undergo the grieving process for a beloved animal companion, you also can expect to have the pain of old losses resurface. Grief is never really “done.” There are always new layers to experience, and these often link themselves to times when you’re experiencing similar emotions. This probably has to do with the particular neuro-pathways utilized for those kinds of feelings—can’t be sure, though; I left my copy of “Brain Surgery for Dummies” in my other suit—or maybe it’s a case of internal “misery loves company”-ism that brings those old emotions along for the current ride.

But revisiting old sorrows isn’t always a bad thing. Every time we do, we get rid of more toxins through our tears, we understand a bit more about our selves and how that person/pet fit into our lives then and now, we learn to value and appreciate what we have in the present, and so forth. A pet loss today can also open the heart to grief we avoided altogether in the past.

I was recently talking to a counselor friend of mine who told me the story of a rescued ragdoll cat, Teddy, she’d had for only a few short months before he died suddenly of feline leukemia. She said she sobbed uncontrollably for several days, only to realize that this cat’s purpose in her life was to remind her of an earlier loss she’d never fully grieved.

The cat she had for 21 years as she was growing up, the faithful friend who’d slept beside her head on her pillow for every day of their lives together, had been put to sleep by her father just after she’d moved out of her parents’ home and had just had her first child. Because of her emotional and energetic focus on her baby, she tucked away her really deep feelings for this cat and never shed a tear for his passing. It wasn’t until this recent rescue of a cat that resembled her childhood pet and his hasty demise that those four-decade-old feelings of grief got uncorked.

A ragdoll cat (Kodi Photo Credit: © Barbara Pierce )

Once she’d put the clues together for herself, acknowledging Teddy’s selfless purpose for entering her life, she noticed that a stray cat she’d never seen before would be sitting atop his grave in her yard every day as she walked to her mailbox. This went on for two full weeks, and then, as abruptly as it had appeared, that messenger cat was suddenly never seen before.

Because our animal friends have shorter life spans than we do, part of their jobs, as it were, in this lifetime is to help us humans become accustomed to and more accepting of death as a part of the natural order of things. They heal us and make us stronger as we mourn the passing of each of these dear companions. It’s just one more thing to thank them for.

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.

Pet Love Infos And Tips | Pet Loss Support – The Seven Worst Things To Say When Someone Has Lost A PetThis author shows a wonderful sensitivity to those who are grieving a pet’s death and brings up numerous good points. If you’re feeling awkward about what to say to a friend who’s lost a pet, consult this article before inserting your foot in your mouth and/or doing irreparable harm to your relationship with that person.—Sid


Pet Loss Support – The Seven Worst Things To Say When Someone Has Lost A Pet

By: Ryan Hendricks

When a friend or loved one has lost their pet it is often very hard to know what to say to help. With over 200 million pets owned in the United States most of us will, at one time or another, be called upon to support an important person in our life as they experience the often times devastating loss of a pet. While it may be very hard to know what to say, an important part of supporting the loved one is to know what not to say:

  1. ” It was just a dog (fill in here: cat, horse, bird, rabbit, gerbil, etc)” – There are millions of households in America who have chosen to own a pet, often as a very important part of their family. The love that a pet owner shares with this pet is indeed a unique and special part of your loved one’s life and should never be minimized as “just a…” anything.
  2. ” If losing a pet is doing this to you, I would hate to see what you would do if you lost something really important, like a child” – This cannot be a helpful thing to say under any circumstance. While this attempt at “tough love” may seem like it will shake the loved one out of their misery, don’t say it. As someone once said, “never be a party to someone’s deepest pain; you may never be forgiven for it”.
  3. ” At least you won’t have the kitty litter (carpet spots, horse stall, cage) to deal with anymore” – Many times with the loss of a pet, those are just the routines that a pet owner misses the very most. The daily reminder that those chores are no longer necessary while seemingly freeing to someone from the outside can be a very painful part of the loss of a pet.
  4. “They are in a better place” – While a very nice thought, in the beginning throes of a loss, it can also be a very discomforting thought. To a pet owner the “best place” for their pet is in their home or in their arms. A responsible pet owner feels responsible for every aspect of their pet’s wellbeing and the bereaved pet owner may feel that they are letting their pet down by not “being there” any longer for them.
  5. “You can get another dog (fill in here: cat, horse, bird, rabbit, gerbil, etc)” – The bereaved pet owner knows this, it doesn’t have to be stated right away. Often a pet owner will need time to process their loss before they can contemplate bringing another pet into their lives. Many bereaved pet owners feel that they would be “unfaithful” to their beloved pet in finding another so quickly. Some actually do need to fill the space immediately with another pet. This suggestion can remain unspoken in the beginning of the grieving period.
  6. “I thought you were prepared for this” or “You have known this was coming” – Even though the bereaved pet owner may have been dealing with an aging or ill pet for a long period of time, the actual loss is something that really cannot be fully anticipated. Each pet loss is unique, even for the experienced pet owner who has traveled down the path of pet loss before. While often prepared for the process, the finality of the event and the acceptance of facing the days ahead without their pet’s presence is something that pet owners need to deal with in their own way.
  7. “Enough time has passed, you should be getting over this by now” or “It’s time to move on” – Time actually is the only thing that will get the bereaved pet owner in a “better place” with their loss but sometimes it can take a very long time. Every pet owner processes their loss at a different pace and the best thing that a loved one can do is wait and be gentle and patient. Perhaps some lovingly suggested pet loss support groups, online pet loss sites or helpful pet loss books would be a better approach.

While it can be very hard to know for sure what to say when a loved one in your life is facing the loss of a beloved pet here are two simple suggestions which are guaranteed to be on the list of “Things To Say When Someone Has Lost A Pet”:

“I Love You” and “I am so sorry” Say them softly and say them often.

Author Resource:-> If you enjoyed this article, you might also enjoy articles on common illnesses and ryan carter.

Article From Pet Love Infos And Tips

I know my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” has brought comfort to a great many grieving pet owners, and I do my best to perform my Animal Chaplaincy Services both online and in person to validate their feelings of and support them through their times of crisis. I just really wish we had a pet loss funeral home in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area like the one started by Coleen Ellis in the story below. Anyone out there thinking of starting one, please contact me right away!—Sid

Pet funerals: When four paws go six feet under.

By Shannon Proudfoot, Postmedia News October 14, 2010 11:07 AM

Coleen Ellis, a leader in the pet-funeral business who runs Two Hearts Pet Loss Center in Greenwood, Indianapolis with her two step children Brian (right) and Amy (left) her husband Chris Burke and the pets Ellie Mae (the black Border Collie/Flat Coat Retriever mix), Rudy, the cat, Mike The Dog (the Golden Retriever), and Crisco (Yorkie/Chihuahua mix). Photograph by: Shawn Barney, Photo Handout

NEW ORLEANS — Coleen Ellis knows not everyone understands what she does for a living.

But those who don’t understand her services don’t need them.

Ellis is the owner of Two Hearts Pet Loss Center in Greenwood, Indiana, and a pet grief expert who spoke at the National Funeral Directors Association convention in New Orleans this week.

“I wanted to give families options, instead of them walking out of a vet clinic with a leash and collar in hand,” she says. “I wanted them to be able to do whatever was right for them, just as we do on the human side.”

Jocelyne Monette, founder of the soon-to-open Greater Victoria Pet Memorial Centre and a former pet funeral director in Montreal, says a big part of her job is simply telling people it’s OK to mourn their pets.

“You have so much support for the loss of a human and nothing for the loss of a pet,” she says. “Pet loss is such a disenfranchised grief, and as a society we’ve forgotten how to grieve, let alone grieve for the loss of a pet.”

Ellis worked for 15 years in the traditional funeral industry and grew to love the rituals that helped families say goodbye. When her beloved 14-year-old terrier-schnauzer mix, Mico, died in 2003, she found a traditional funeral home that would cremate her, but Ellis says they asked her to enter through the back door and not to disturb a family that was grieving a “real death.”

“When I tell people that my dad died, people say, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry, it’s been five years and I’m sure you miss him,'” she says. “When I tell the wrong person it’s been seven years since Mico died and I still cry, they look at me and go, ‘Are you kidding me? It was a dog!'”

Believing other grieving “pet parents” would need the same comfort she’d sought out, Ellis founded the Pet Angel Memorial Chapel, which she says was the first stand-alone pet funeral home in the United States. She sold the business two years ago and now focuses on education and consulting for the growing handful of pet memorialization businesses in Canada and the U.S.

Monette’s business will open in Victoria in November, offering pickup of remains, visitation, private cremation and delivery of the ashes to a family so they can avoid the trauma of returning to the vet clinic. Prices range from $275 to $450.

A couple of years ago, she conducted a visitation for a cat in Montreal that was attended by 35 people, she says, with the beloved pet snuggled under a blanket in repose.

“Our relationships with our pets are very special and we have the right, like anybody else, to grieve with loss the way we need to,” Monette says.

Kevin Woronchak was also inspired to join the pet death-care industry by his own heartache, after his family lost a cat and two dogs in one horrible week in 2006. Recalling that “devastating” week still chokes him up.

He and his wife Joanna run Until We Meet Again Pet Memorial Center in Vancouver, lovingly wrapping pets in blankets and removing them in small moulded-plastic caskets, offering grief support groups and giving families a calm and soothing place to say goodbye.

Woronchak is a firefighter by day, and much like a human funeral director, he says it’s incredibly rewarding to be there for families in need, but sometimes the pain hits too close to home.

“A couple of months ago, I had a really rough week. A lot of my good friends lost their pets and then I went to a house-call and there on the floor in their living room was my Kayla who I’d lost,” he says of a dog who looked just like his beloved German shepherd. “I had such a hard time trying to provide comfort to the family, yet I was hurting, too.”

Ellis says many people worry what their friends will think if they have a visitation for their pet. Just as with human funeral rituals, she tells them the farewells are for sake of the living and not the dead — and if their friends laugh instead of supporting them in a moment of pain, she advises them to find new friends.

“So many people whisper the sentence to me, ‘Do you think pets go to heaven?’ They whisper it because they get embarrassed,” she says. “My comment is always, ‘Do you think they go?’ and then they whisper it back to me, ‘Yes.'”

Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/FUNERALS/3665190/story.html#ixzz12MRQpEBM

 

I was just interviewed by Susan Loving, managing editor, ICCFA Magazine International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association for their December issue. She was asking me questions about pet chaplaincy, but I learned a lot about the official business. It is really exciting to learn of current thinking about pet loss and the services various enlightened businesses are beginning to provide to grieving animal lovers. For instance, some places have Grief Therapy animals on-site for bereaved families! It’s a long, slow process, but we (as a society) are learning!

Lucky for me, my high school aptitude tests showed I should either be in advertising or a funeral director. Promoting this book, I guess I’m doing both!

You know it’s true. We animal lovers get a raw deal when it comes to mourning the death of our pets. Case in point, a woman who’d lost a companion animal emailed me this: “I feel so guilty for grieving over the loss of my pets over the years…maybe your book will help me to let go of that guilt, as so many people will say, ‘God, it’s only a dog’!!!!”

I wish it were as easily accomplished as my saying to her, “As a bona fide animal chaplain, I absolve you of your guilt here and now!” Say, I wonder how I’d look in a pet-hair-covered leotard and cape?

Seriously though, her feelings are not uncommon. In researching my book, Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss, I repeatedly heard that people had an easier time getting past the death of a human relative than they did the loss of their pets. This comes as no surprise since our society gives us “permission” to grieve a person’s death. They offer us compassion and patience as we process the feelings of loss.

Surely they would extend that same support to us for our grief over the death of the companions who were by our side 24/7 and who loved us without conditions or complications, right? Nope. Flying in the face of all logic, most people expect us to shrug off that kind of loss; they even perceive us as defective for feeling lingering sorrow or pain. This is absolutely ludicrous! The amount of grief we feel is commensurate with the amount of love we shared with our animal family members. Such feelings are normal and appropriate. However, we mustn’t unconsciously vow to be “stuck” in a negative emotion forever.

Risking loving again is precisely what will heal our hearts, as long as we don’t rush into adopting another pet too soon. We must still work through the worst of our grief beforehand, as denying or burying those feelings can produce disastrous effects in our health and relationships—even those with future pets.

For folks who feel trapped in their grief, try this visualization technique: Imagine your deceased pet’s spirit is working on the Other Side to bring you another pet, one paw picked just for you, to arrive when your heart is ready to receive him or her. This allows you to be open to moving on without fear that you might be betraying his memory. Instead, you’ll be honoring your departed pet by entrusting him to help you choose wisely, to give you a sense of certainty when the right new critter comes along.

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