Carrie Ball Pet Bereavement Counselling

A service as individual as your grief

ANGER. The first in a series

A to Z of Grief a series of posts about grief

 Anger.

Anger is a natural reaction and response to grief and loss. The anger may be self-directed, maybe we feel angry that we didn't do something sooner, or that we feel like we made a wrong decision. The anger may be directed at the vet, we may feel they did something or suggested something we later don't agree with.

Anger is natural, but it isn't always rational. it isn't always healthy. It is best to talk to people that you know and trust about how you feel. Once you have spoken out you may feel better and realise that your anger is misplaced. If it helps you may want to scream into a pillow, go for a walk where it is quiet and have a moment to reflect. It is important that you talk to someone, family, friends or a bereavement counsellor.

Letting out the feeling can make you feel better but please don't do anything that is rash or will cause harm to you or others around you. The anger usually comes when we start to come to terms with what happened when we start to make sense of all of it. But the anger is usually a flash reaction and isn't based on anything solid when we think about everything we know we did all that we could, we know deep down that the vet did all that they could.

Anger is normal but it isn't useful, and it isn't a place to stay.

A to Z of Grief. Bond

Bond

Most people get how important our animal friends are to us, to a lot of people their pets are family, they are their children. They are the reason for getting up in the morning, putting one foot in front of the other and getting through a day.

The bond is like no other. It is unique to you and your beloved companion. For those with disabilities, the bond is different, the service animal (usually a dog) is like an extension of that person. Enabling them to lead a life that is more independent than if they did not have that service animal.

The reason why we acquired the pet we have and the role they played in our lives will have an impact on how we grieve their loss. Some people may not understand why we take the loss so hard, and they may not support us in our time of need. But there is support available, pet bereavement counsellors, the Blue Cross, Samaritans, friends and family, The Ralph site, we are all here and we get it.

A to Z of Grief. BOND

A to Z of Grief. Cremation

A to Z of Grief Cremation

This installment is about  Cremation.

When we decide to have cremation there are lots of options and things to consider. There are different options for Urns and caskets, lockets and ashes into glass ornaments. It can be a hard time waiting, then going to collect them. There may be some things you had not known or considered.

1. There are options for caskets and urns.

2. You may be able to have your own inscription on the plate.

3. You may be able to take your pet to the crematorium and wait and then take the ashes home.

4. Some crematoriums will collect your pet from your home,

5. The casket may be bigger or smaller than you thought.

6. The casket may be heavier or lighter than you thought. (when we have a large pet or one that is a bit on the fluffier side, we may think that the ashes would surely weight more? or be surprised that a smaller pet weighs so much. This is all normal and depends on the pet and isn't necessarily a sign that the crematorium sent the wrong ashes. Pet crematoriums are very careful and respectful and will always make sure that you can be assured that the ashes you receive are those of your pet.)

7. You can have some ashes scattered in the gardens of remembrance at the crematorium (check first, and be aware that most crematoriums will only be able to scatter a small number of ashes and the rest would be disposed of as there is simply not enough room to accommodate all the ashes that may be requested to be scattered)

8. You can have some ashes put into a locket, or an urn or casket of your choosing, some vets will send them to you in a box or a bamboo pouch if you have not decided what urn or casket you like.

9. If you decide to bury the ashes, please consider whether you will be likely to move house in the future. It may be best to bury them in a plant pot with a plant on top so that it can be taken with you if you move.

10. scatter tubes are a great option if you want to scatter the ashes on a favourite walk. My personal belief is that the body is the shell that contains everything that makes our pets special. That they are not truly inside that little bag or box, just the shell is in there, they live in our hearts and the places we visit and the things that we see.

The vet staff and crematorium staff will understand how difficult this time can be. If you are struggling please talk to them. They may have a pet loss counsellor in practice or they can recommend someone.

A to Z of Grief Denial

 For the letter D, I bring you the topic of Denial.

Denial can come when we are given bad news, a poor prognosis, or find our beloved pet gone or passed away. Denial is the brain's way of trying to save us from the pain.

 Saving the events until we are in a better frame of mind to work through and process events. If the traumatic event didn't happen then we don't have to deal with it, and we can pretend it didn't happen, and we don't have to deal with the news we have been given.

It would be great to be able to deny what has happened and what we heard and then be able to go about our lives as if this horrendous time had never happened. Unfortunately, by denying what has happened or is about to happen, we risk either missing out on the time we have left with our pets, or we may struggle more through the grief. It is easier said than done to face what is or has happened and then begin to process it.

However, you do not have to go through it alone. Your veterinary practice can help you, the staff know you, they know or knew your pet, and they want you to be supported. Talking about how you feel is very therapeutic, it is surprising how much we keep bottled up. It isn't until we open up and express our fears and thoughts that we realise what we were holding in, and there is more chance of being helped.

There are great resources available for support, Pet Bereavement counsellors, online support groups and phone and email support.

Denial may feel like the least painful course of action, but it isn't a place to stay and can lead to a longer recovery.

A to Z of Grief. Denial

A to Z of Grief. Emotions

A to Z Grief. Emotions

 Emotions.

People have their own theories about what we should or should not be feeling. Trying to dictate how we should feel and when and how. When we lose a pet for whatever reason we may feel 101 things all at once or feel like we don't know what to feel when. We may look to books, social media posts etc to try and determine whether what we are feeling is 'right'. Emotions are whatever comes to you.

However, you feel at any one time is right for you. Some people may worry that they do not feel anything but numbness, and may be concerned that they will be overcome with all of the emotions all at once. There may be feelings of sadness, anger, numbness. You may cry a lot or not at all. But however you feel it is important to remember that it is normal, it is personal and is unique to you and your circumstances.

No one can tell you what to feel and when it isn't as clear cut as that. But there is support for you no matter how you feel. Please remember that the feelings will subside as you come to terms with what has happened.

Seek support from those around you. Friends and family and colleagues can only help if they know what is going on, and if you can explain what is or isn't being experienced.

I am are here for you. Please, whatever you feel, you don't have to be alone.

A to Z of Grief. Fear

 Fear.

Fear can be felt for many reasons. Fear of the unknown, what would treatment paths be like for all concerned. Fear of having to make the decision to say goodbye one day What will happen at the last appointment?

How will we cope with the loss? Fear of receiving ashes back Fear of facing friends and family after the loss Fear of facing each day Fear is a natural response to an event that we perceive will cause harm, pain or is dangerous. I think we can all agree that losing or preparing to lose a beloved pet causes pain, emotional pain, mental pain, it can be felt like a punch. There are steps we can take to regain some control over the fear.

Some ways we can make sense of what has or is about to happen, and then we are more prepared. The fear may still be there, but we will be in a stronger mindset to face it. Talk. Ask questions. Find answers to the questions that scare you, that you need to know the details of, but maybe scared to hear the answer.

If there is some aspect of the loss or impending loss that you are worried about, please ask someone who can answer it. If there is any concern or worry about what happens during euthanasia, please ask your vet or veterinary nurse to explain. If you are worried about what happens after the loss, regarding cremation or burial or tribute options, please speak to the vet staff or crematoria staff. If you are worried about how to go on, how to face friends, acquaintances and loved ones, talk to a pet bereavement counsellor. Talk to the Blue cross support line or email.

Please don't feel that your fears are not worth voicing, please never feel that no one will get what you are going through. If it matters to you, then it is worthy of speaking aloud. There are people out there to listen, to answer or advise.

A to Z of Grief. Fear

A to Z of Grief. Grief

Grief.

Grief can begin before we even lose a loved one. This is known as Anticipatory Grief. This is when we start to think about what life may be like when we say goodbye, or how we envision our pet to decline. We may mourn their passing before they have gone.

Anticipatory grief can begin when we receive a poor prognosis, or if we know we have to rehome a pet. It is natural, it is normal but it can rob us of the time we have left with our pets. Because we focus on the end and not the here and now. However, it can be useful, as we may be able to make arrangements and ask questions while we are still as clear-headed as can be. There are other types of grief.

Complicated grief, where there are a few events or factors that affect the way we process grief and loss.

Masked grief, where we may be unaware that our actions are in accordance with the loss suffered.

Delayed grief, where we may push our feelings aside and try to battle on, but it all comes to a head.

Exaggerated grief, where the bereaved may react in such a manner that they require extra support, they may turn to self injurous behaviours such as drug or alcohol abuse to take the pain away. Maybe even physical self-harm.

Chronic grief is a grief that takes the person longer than one would expect to move through. Although there is no time limit to grief there comes a time when we would expect to be functioning better and coping with the loss.

Disenfranchised grief, a loss that is not understood by society, almost a taboo, pet loss was and still is seen as a loss that is not socially acceptable but views and attitudes are changing for the better.

However, we still have some way to go. There have been texts written about the 5 stages of grief, and there are some of 7 and more stages.

The truth is that grief isn't as clear cut as 5 stages, and there is no set rule about what comes first or how to grieve. The five stages were

1. Denial

2. Anger

3. Depression

4. Bargaining

5. Acceptance

Although we may experience these stages, there is no telling what stage we experience first or last, or whether we go through all of them or not. Some people may become 'stuck' on a stage and require further support. If anyone would like me to expand on the 5 stages and how they may manifest please let me know. I am happy to send something in the post or email if preferred.

Please know that wherever you are, there is support available.

A to Z of Grief. Help

Help.

There are many reasons why we may be grieving.

Our pet may have been rehomed, gone missing, passed away or we had to choose euthanasia. We may feel lost, we may feel there is nowhere to turn. However friends and family may be supportive, they can support you through this difficult time.

But what do you do if no one seems to want to listen? Who do you turn to when it seems everyone is getting by and you are still in pain? There are people you can talk to that will understand, that will listen and will support you.

The Blue Cross Pet Bereavement Support Service is free to access, they have trained volunteers that are available via phone or email if you prefer not to talk. 0800 096 6606 pbssmail@bluecross.org.uk

The Ralph site has a facebook support group that is very helpful. Every member has their own experiences of loss and no matter where they are on their own grief journey they are always supportive of one another.

The Ralph Site There is also a list on their website of pet bereavement counsellors. www.theralphsite.com

There are pet bereavement counsellors worldwide and below are a few of them.

 Pet Eden - Grief Counselling for Pet Parents

Rachel Symons

Caitlin Royal Pet Loss And Bereavement Counselling

Kimberly Johnson Jonah

Debbie McLeod, Pet Bereavement Expert Pet Loss Bereavement Counselling

You can even contact the Samaritans if you need to speak to someone if you are struggling.

Please don't feel that you are alone. Your loss is valid, your grief is valid and worthy of support. We are here for you, please don't suffer in silence.

A to Z of Grief. Help

A to Z of Grief. Imagination

A to Z of Grief. Imagination

Imagination.

This post is not to get into a debate about whether or not there is life after death. Whatever your personal belief system that is whatever brings you comfort.

Some people have experienced visits from deceased loved ones. Whether a vivid dream, seeing, hearing or even smelling the scent of a loved one. There has been research into why we experience these post-loss hallucinations, but no one really knows why they occur or why some people experience them and not others.

It can be a great comfort to hear, see or smell a lost loved one, taken as a sign that they are with us in some way. People may have a vivid dream in which they see their pets. The visits can be taken as a comfort.

However, it is important to remember that if you do not 'see', 'hear' or 'smell' a lost loved one it doesn't mean that they have left you completely. Your beloved pets live on in dreams, memories, and photos and when we keep the memories alive we can always keep them with us in some way. Have you ever experienced a visit from a deceased pet?

 I personally have seen my partners' old dog. I was sat in the living room next to the door and I saw his image walk past the open door, look in then walk down the corridor to my father-in-laws' office. I mentioned it to my partner and he said that Jack used to do that, walk past and look in to see who was there then go to the office for a snooze. It was strange but lovely to witness.

Whatever your personal belief, please take comfort from any signs you may receive or perceive to have received. If it brings you peace and does not cause harm to you or anyone else, mentally or physically then enjoy the moments.