Carrie Ball Pet Bereavement Counselling

A service as individual as your grief

ANGER. The first in a series

A to Z GRIEF - ANGER

 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

 

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

 

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

 

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 OF GRIEF - 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 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

A TO Z OF 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

 

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

 

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.

A TO Z OF GRIEF- JOURNEY

 It may seem strange to look at the loss of a pet and life thereafter as a journey. But it is a journey of sorts. We have to carry on without our furry, feathered or scaled friends.

It can seem lonely and bleak and in some cases may seem like there is no point moving forward. Every day is a new step forward on this journey to the end goal which is acceptance and recovery.

Now acceptance doesn't mean getting over the loss and suddenly being ok with it all. Acceptance means letting go of feelings that may hold us back, accepting that what has happened cannot be changed.

Recovery is when we reach that point where we begin to be able to speak the name of a loved one and it doesn't make our voice catch, or make tears stream down our face. It is when we are able to talk about our pet and the loss and although it will always hurt to some degree, the pain is a dull ache that we can live with.

Wherever you are on your journey, whether you're starting it, already along the way.you will be making new memories and living new adventures and one day I would like to think that we can recount these experiences to our loved ones when we meet again.

'We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.' - Kenji Miyazawa

A TO Z OF GRIEF - KEEPSAKES

 

Keepsakes can come in many forms and are as individual as you are. You can choose whatever you want as a keepsake, whether it is a lock of fur, a nail clipping, a whisker, a collar, a blanket or a favourite toy.

You can even use the ashes and turn them into a tribute piece. My Pets Ashes have a beautiful range of glassware that can incorporate the ashes. Black Squirrel Jewellery do some amazing memorial pieces all hand crafted and made with care and respect Artemis Cremation Ash & Memorial Keepsake Jewellery do beautiful pendants, rings etc that can be worn always or kept to treasure.

Maybe you want to keep the bedding but want to do something different with it. Andrea's Memory Cushions & Keepsakes based In Atherton Manchester makes beautiful cushions out of a loved ones blankets, so you can curl up on the couch and hug it as long as you need to.

BEAR In Mind Keepsakes make beautiful bears and other animals out of a loved ones clothing and bedding, absolutely beautiful and well crafted work. Keepsakes can be anything that triggers a memory, something that you cannot part with and will keep safe for as long as you can. Journals are a good keepsake too, making notes about what you are doing day to day, writing to your pet and including them in some way.

Scrapbooks are lovely, favourite photos will bring comfort and take you back to that moment that it was taken. You could write about what memory is brought to mind so that others can share in that moment.

Memory boxes are a nice way of preserving memories, each member of the family can place an item that means something to them inside the box.

A TO Z OF GRIEF - LOVING ANOTHER

Loving Another.

I want to make something very clear to you, whoever needs to read this and know this.

There is no right or wrong time to take another pet into your life after a loss. There is no rule that says you have to even take on another pet. You can never replace the one you lost, however you can replace the normality of having a pet in the home.

You have a lot of love to give and any animal would be lucky to know such love. If you do decide to take on another pet please do so only because you feel ready. If you know deep down that you are still too raw yet, then that is fine, wait. If you feel that you want a pet sooner rather than later then that is fine too. If you decide to open your heart to another please bear the following in mind: It may sound obvious but your new pet is an individual in their own right, with new behaviours, new personality, new coat colour, scent and style.

It would be unfair to you and them to take on a pet solely because they look like the one you lost. Sometimes people do this because they want to keep the memory alive, and cannot move through the grief. But then you risk losing out on the new bond and friendship that could be formed if you allowed this new companion to be themselves. Plus it only causes upset when the new pet does not act like the one we lost.

There is no shame or guilt in loving another, there really isn't. It is not disrespectful, it is not removing all traces of the pet we lost and it is not to forget them. You may decide that you would rather not take on another pet, and that is fine too. There is no set in stone rule that says you must. Whatever feels right for you is right for you.

Take care, and remember that your beloved pet will always be with you in some way.

Moving Forward - Picture shows two people walking a dog along a woodland path

A TO Z OF GRIEF - MOVING FORWARD

Moving Forward.

I often have clients ask me how they will get through the pain of losing a pet. How can they move forward?

It would be wonderful if i could say some magic words and the pain would disappear, that the grief would be resolved. Unfortunately there are no magic words, there is no easy way around it. The only way to get over grief and the pain of the loss is to go through it.

Be kind to yourself, are you beating yourself up over something that you did or said? The pain will lessen to a dull ache you can live with, but it takes time and support and kindness.

You have been through a very traumatic time, there are bound to be days when you wonder if life will ever be the same again. Each day is a new day, and each new day is one step closer to closure and recovery. The pain will lessen, there will always be days that are harder than others. There will be days where we can look back and smile and take comfort in the memories.

Moving forward does not mean that you are forgetting your pet, it does not mean you are suddenly completely ok with what happened. It does mean that you have accepted that what happened cannot be changed, and that you are learning to adapt and cope with each new day as it comes.

You can move forward and will always have the memories and the connection with your pet. You will always love them and miss them, but it will get easier to put one foot in front of the other.

A TO Z OF GRIEF - NORMAL

https://www.peteden.com.au/

To bring you the topic associated with the letter N is the wonderful, compassionate and dedicated Tracey Woods.

Tracey is an amazing veterinary nurse and pet bereavement counsellor. She lives and works in Australia, and i am so happy that she has provided her valuable input.

Pet Eden - Grief Counselling for Pet Parents

Normal What is ‘Normal’? : Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. And everyone’s grief journey is different and individual. Normal experiences of grief include: Crying, feeling lonely, helpless, numb Headaches, feeling exhausted Sleeping patterns change (sleeping more, or unable to sleep) Lack of energy Changes in Appetite, not wanting to eat at all, or over indulging comfort foods. Difficulty concentrating on work or hobbies Withdrawing from social events

This is where good meaning family and friends may tell us ‘to get over it and move on’. Easier said than done. Start off slowly. Start with getting a healthy meal in once a day, a salad or a protein shake. Do some light exercise or a hobby that you get joy from doing. Don’t force yourself to attend parties or gatherings, ease in slowly by catching up with a friend for a coffee (or wine) Mix up the routine, if you normally took your dog for a walk after work, finding something else to do, like watering the garden or practicing some self care.

We need time to adjust to ‘A New Normal’ - life after our pet’s Passing. You will never forget your pet, but with time, and action, you will be able to cope with their absence

Normal - Picture shows Tracey Woods a Veterinary Nurse from Australia, and her beautiful Australian shepherd Opie

OBSTACLES - Picture shows a wood and metal barricade with a lamp on top.

A TO Z OF GRIEF - OBSTACLES

 

Obstacles are those things that get in the way of our moving forward, that hold us back whether we know it or not.

Obstacles can be mental, such as denial and being unable to accept what has or will happen and then we cannot begin to heal and move on. Obstacles may be physical such as being unable to move food or water bowls, toys, or a bed.

It is worth remembering that even though we may struggle, we can overcome those objects or mind sets that are impeding our progress. Do what you can, when you can. Talk to family and friends or a pet bereavement counsellor. Sometimes a different perspective is all that is needed in order to get over the hurdle. Sometimes we come up against a hurdle or obstacle because we need to slow down, have a good think and process fully what has stopped us.

Once we know why we stopped and see where we need to be we can seek the support or answers we need to move on. Remember, you are not in this alone. You do not have to struggle, you do not have to feel that no one gets it.

Please reach out to your veterinary practice, pet bereavement resources and even social media support groups. Whatever is stopping you, there is a way over or around it.

A TO Z OF GRIEF - PEOPLE PRESSURE

People Pressure.

How many of you have been given 'advice' that was well meant but not well placed? How many of you reading this have had people try to coerce or even bully you into moving forward at a pace that was unacceptable or unattainable?

Most people around us mean well, they want to help but may not take on fully what we actually need. Some people may go off what they would prefer and what would help them, and then they use this to try to 'help' us.

Some examples may be commenting on how you are coping. 'shouldn't you be over this by now?' 'It's only a (insert pet type here)' Some people may suggest things that they feel would help such as noticing that the loss of a pet is causing pain, so the obvious solution would be getting another?

But in suggesting this people only see the very basic issue, that there is a pet missing and so taking on another will make it all ok. However what they don't take into consideration is that it isn't the fact a pet is missing, it is the fact that it was Your pet that is missing, and that is the point.

Some people may try to hurry you along with your grief. They may be uneasy and unable to comfort you in a manner that will actually help and so they try to gloss over it and try to get you back onto their familiar territory. When someone makes a comment or a suggestion it is important to take a moment, and think about who is making the suggestion, are they important to you and is what they are saying coming from a good place? Are they actually trying to help but misguided? Or are they just trying to hurry you along?

Most people will try to comfort and support you as best they can, but they need to know what you need also. Do you need space, a hug, someone to listen or someone to just acknowledge your pain and just be there in the moment?

Don't feel you have to be rushed, listen to what is being said but only you can decide what is right for you.

eaking to a pet bereavement counsellor may be beneficial, a neutral non biased view that can help you put things in order and see things from a perspective that helps you.

PEOPLE PRESSURE - Picture shows asphalt and a chalk message. Leaves are on the tarmac

QUIET- Picture shows Green leaves and shrubbery and neon tube lights that say 'and breathe'

A TO Z OF GRIEF - QUIET

Quiet.

Quiet can be associated with the quietness in the home after a loss. it can also be the need for space. Quietness in the home. The silence can sometimes be deafening.

There may be times when you think you can hear nails clipping on the floor, or the jingle of a bell or tags on a collar. This can sometimes be the hardest part, coming home to an empty home where there was once a loved one whose presence filled every room. Time and support and talking about how you feel can help.

It may seem pointless as the only way this could be made better is unfortunately gone.

Take a breath, go for a walk and listen to what is around you. Listen to the birds and try to decipher what bird you hear, what are they saying? Listen to the song and let it relax you a bit.

Go to a friends house for a brew and a chat, a change of scenery. Maybe you need space, the quiet although loud is also what your battered heart needs.

You may need to hear nothing and just be.

You may be tired of the platitudes and words of others, well meant but not for your ears just yet. You may want to just be alone with your thoughts and that is ok but remember that you are not in this alone.

Breathe, it will get easier but there is no quick fix

A TO Z OF GRIEF - RESPECT

 

Respect for feelings, respect for the companion we lost. Respect is so important, we are going through such a difficult time, and for many of us we have never faced this sort of loss before. There is no textbook or manual to tell us what to feel or how to grieve.

Grief is as individual as we are. Our circumstances, our pets, our bond is unique to us. So respect for others: Ok, so there will be those out there that don't understand the loss, or why someone would be so upset. Those people who say "it's just a........" those that say "it's not a human why are you so upset?" those that say "can't you just get another one?" You may have encountered such people, you may be friends with such people or related to or living with people that have these opinions.

So, here's the thing:

For those grieving: You are not: 1.Going mad

2.Being silly

3.Overreacting

You are: In pain, Grieving,Experiencing something you may feel unprepared for.

Be kind to yourself, don't try to push through and move aside your feelings because you feel that it is what is expected, or that you are being told that you should. This is your grief and however you feel and process it is right for you.

But if you feel overwhelmed or are not sure how to cope, get in touch with a pet bereavement counsellor or a service such as The Blue Cross, or information on the Ralph site www.theralphsite.com

There will be times when you are faced with others who have not heard from you for a while or have no idea what happened. They will ask where your pet is, how have you been, what are you going to do. You may worry about what to say, or how you will react. But you have control over this, you can decide how much you want to say and to whom. ' I don't want to talk about this' or 'can we talk about something else please' are both ways to cut short an uncomfortable questioning or encounter. You don't have to explain anything to anyone if you don't feel up to it.

Others should respect your personal space and feelings at this time, but you must also be respectful, grieving needn't make us rude. You may bump into people that you normally spoke to while walking your dog and for this reason, some may avoid going along that path or route. We may avoid places we normally went to for fear of being asked a question we are not ready to answer out loud. Please remember that the people we knew through our pets are only trying to help, they are only trying to keep the friendship going. If you feel up to talking then do so, and if they ask then you can always either talk about this or say something like 'another time maybe'.

As fellow pet owners, they will understand but we don't always know what to say to someone else. If you know what would help you out a bit then please tell others, they cannot help if they don't know what you need.

Respect the bereaved, respect their space and feelings. Respect one another because we don't know what someone is truly going through. Be kind.

RESPECT - Pcture shows a man wearing a black jumper with Respect written on it in red.

SADNESS- Picture shows a woman holding up a paper with a smile drawn on it, her makeup is smudged as if she was crying

A TO Z OF GRIEF - SADNESS

Sadness.

When we lose a pet, whether it has died, or gone missing or been rehomed we will feel sadness at some point.

Sadness can be all consuming, it can affect our day to day activities and can even turn into depression. Sadness can range from feeling a bit low and tearful to inconsolable.

However you do not have to go through this alone. It is a natural response to a loss, but you do not have to face it on your own and struggle. Talking to friends and family about how you feel can help to alleviate the pain.

Whilst it is normal and expected to feel sad, as this is indeed a very upsetting time, there may be cause to speak to a professional if you feel that your sadness is causing problems with your day to day living. Such issues are: Eating too much or too little Sleeping too much or too little Distancing yourself from friends and family Becoming preoccupied with photos or reminders of the deceased.

There is a good article in Psychology Today that goes into more detail https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-new-grief/201203/when-does-grief-become-depression

A TO Z OF GRIEF - Tributes

Tributes.

The photo is from the Memorial Woodland at Dignity Pet Crematorium. There are many ways to pay tribute to a loved companion that is no longer physically with us.

Some people do social media posts that are shared far and wide. Some people make scrapbooks and collages. Some people make memorial corners or dedicate shelves in cabinets to the cremains or collar and toys that belonged to their companion.

You can name a star and receive a map of the whereabouts of that star see the link at the bottom of this site.

You could create a video of favourite photos and put music to it and keep that for years to come. There is no set rule about how to do this, what you need to do. It is personal, as unique as the loss and the bond you had. Whatever you choose to do is the right way, whatever feels natural and right to do.

Be aware that there will be those out there who may disagree with the choices made, who will say they wouldn't do that or in that way. That's up to them, they can do what they like when it comes to tributes for their loved ones. Let no one tell you what you can or cannot do. As long as it harms no one, and is not dangerous then go ahead. There are those who will have a permanent tribute, such as a tattoo, and some people will add some ashes to the ink.

There is the option to have your pet taxidermized if you feel this is what you want. This can be quite a divisive option but it's up to the individual. It isn't everyone's ideal but then if we were all the same life would be boring. Shiner Skulls & Articulations do some amazing works, and they treat every pet with dignity and respect which you can tell from the quality of their work.

Remember however you pay tribute and remember your loved one is up to you, it is ok, it is right and it will be perfect.

TRIBUTES - Pictures shows a grave marker in the woodland at Dignity Pet Crematorium

UNDERSTANDING - Picture shows a face with a tear sliding down the cheek and a quote written at the side

A TO Z OF GRIEF - UNDERSTANDING

Understanding.

You may have been in a situation where you listened to someone talk about something that happened to them. Where they talked about how the event happened and what it entailed. They may have spoken about their feelings then and now.

You may have experienced the same or a similar life event. You may know first hand how that person may feel. You understand. But what would you do if you had no experience of what that person was talking about, if you had never been through it yourself? You would try to understand.

You may not feel the same way, you may not agree but you would understand. You would listen and you would take it in. You don't have to lose a pet to know that it hurts. That it leaves a hole in your heart that it seems nothing will fill.

When someone opens up to you about how they feel you don't have to have lived it.

You just need to try to understand.

If you need someone to talk to, someone that truly understands then please get in touch with me. I understand.

A TO Z OF GRIEF - VETS

Veterinary surgeons.

They train for years, they may choose a specialty, they dedicate their lives to the lives of their patients. They are human. Vets are not cold, clinical machines, they are dedicated.

" ABOVE ALL, my constant endeavour will be to ensure the health and welfare of animals committed to my care." https://www.rcvs.org.uk/setting-standards/advice-and-guidance/code-of-professional-conduct-for-veterinary-surgeons/

Vets do not make light of euthanasia. They do not make the decision or suggest this for no good reason. No vet wants to lose a patient. They will do whatever they can to help that patient and keep them alive.

But they will not do so if it goes against their code of conduct. If a pet is severely injured, is chronically ill and is suffering or is likely to suffer, then they will suggest euthanasia.

I have worked with many vets while I was a VCA (Veterinary Care Assistant). there is pain as they came to the conclusion that euthanasia was the only way. You hear the almost inaudible sigh as they realise it. You see the almost imperceptible sag of the shoulders as the burden of having to end a life hits them.

Because they are human too.

They may be the one to end the life but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt them. That we only see the loss of our companion there and then, but for the vet this may be their second, third or even seventh and more of that week, month. If you ask a vet what would they do in your situation, and the vet tells you that if it was their pet they would consent to euthanasia then they are telling you the truth.

They mean it, they agree with your decision and they support it. They will always support any decision you make that is for the welfare of that pet. They will gently guide you to the best option for your companion. They will give you the facts, the statistics the pro's the con's. They will help you all the way.

Vets are only human. Losing patients hits them hard. Seeing death on a regular basis is difficult. Being the one to decide that death is the only option for a pet is very difficult.

It is a responsibility that weighs heavily on white coated shoulders, on scrub topped shoulders. It is a burden that is carried with grace and humility. There are worse fates than death, and the vet knows this, and that is why they say enough is enough.

VETS - Picture is of multi coloured animals and a hand with a heart on it with a stethoscope.A graphic made on Canva

WALKS - Picture shows a woman walking her dog through a woodland. The leaves are brown like it is Autumn

A TO Z OF GRIEF - WALKS

This post is aimed mainly at dog walkers, but could apply to other people. When you have a dog it is likely that you will walk a regular route.

Daily walks taking you all around your neighbourhood, meeting other dog walkers or talking to people in their gardens as you pass. You develop a route, maybe you walk the same way every day and meet the same dog walkers.

Maybe you walk past a particular shop and your dog wants to go in. Maybe you walk to a café or pub and sit outside with your companion and people watch, and sit whilst your dog gets spoilt from the owner or landlord who knows you now and your dog.

Maybe there are people you always bump into because their walks coincide with yours. Or there may be people that are so used to you going past at a certain time that they actively seek you out for a chat and a fuss of your dog. It is nice isn't it.

Nice to meet new people and make friends. It is nice for your dog to socialise, meet new dog playmates. Let them exercise and play and smell a world away from their homes. We look forward to the interactions, we may be a little disappointed when Mr Smith with Bobby isn't out and about as normal. We may wonder where Mrs Jones is and how her gardening is going.

The people we meet may wonder where we are when we don't go out for the regular walk we used to. They may be wondering how we are doing too. It is the regular interactions and the friendly chats we have with others that affects us and our grief. We may not be able to face that walk alone, we may not be able to think about bumping into someone we know. Because they will do something that will hurt us without realising it.

They will do something innocent and well meant that will shatter us. They will ask where our companion is. And we will have to tell them. Say it out loud. This may be why we avoid going for a walk again after the loss. Why we choose a different route even though we may take on another companion, or have another companion already.

We cannot bear to see the same faces, to stop and talk. Because our lives are not the same any more. We are without one that we love very much. And to say it out loud makes it real. Makes it final. Cuts a little deeper when we realise there are those who have no idea of the tragedy we have endured.

People with no idea that their 'oh, where is (pets name)?' cracks open the wound a bit more.

A TO Z OF GRIEF - X - TRA CARE

 Because I couldn't think of a word that began with X I am going with X-tra Care. 

Extra, or X-tra care for the sake of this piece, is vital. Extra care is not given only to our companions before they pass but is something we could do with giving to ourselves.

It isn't selfish to take time for yourself. It isn't bad to feel some relief that you can now have a moment to yourself. Some people may use the pain to punish themselves for things they feel they should or shouldn't have done. Reliving painful memories so that they never forget the moment that felt they didn't do enough. Please don't feel that you have to be in constant pain in order to show how much you loved your pet. Look after yourself, do something nice for you and only you.

You gave so much of your time, your energy and just you that now is the time for you. You don't have to be thinking of your loved one every second of every day to be able to miss them or grieve for them. You will have moments where they are not on your mind or constantly on your mind and you miss them just the same.

You've got this, you really have, and I've got you if you need a shoulder.

X-TRA CARE- Picture shows a red square with Love written on it in paper cut outs and x's and o's around the edges

A hand reaches out towards a sunrise

A TO Z OF GRIEF - YEARNING

A to Z of Grief. Yearning. The Oxford Dictionary defines Yearning in the following way: 'have an intense feeling of longing for something, typically something that one has lost or been separated from'

In grief we may say that we have lost a loved one. Or others may say they are sorry for our loss. But there are those who will say they don't agree with the term 'loss or lost' as they have not misplaced their loved one, their loved one has died.

But getting back to Yearning that feeling of wanting, needing, missing that which we once had. Or even wishing for and yearning for that which we feel was robbed from us.

So is there anything we can do about this? We cannot do the impossible and bring back our loved ones. But we can do something else about the feeling of yearning. We must learn to accept it, feel it and be at peace with it. We cannot change it, we cannot remedy it so why fight it.

Feel it, acknowledge it, answer it in your head, you know why you are feeling this way and you are aware and move forwards.

Reach out to others, talk about your loss and feelings because when we say it out loud others are there to help.

A TO Z OF GRIEF - ZEN

How to find peace and look after yourself whilst grieving and beyond. Mindfulness seems to be a topic that is being explored by a lot of people.

I have started a training course in Mindfulness and it's good, I am calmer and am looking at the way I respond to situations and feelings and thoughts. There are many ways we can choose to relax, pamper and look after ourselves.

It is not selfish to want to take time for yourself. To want to have some time alone to reflect and acknowledge. If you find it hard to get a moment alone then even a minute or two whilst doing something else can help.

Breathing, listen to and feel the breath coming in and out. Listen, go outside and really listen to the sounds, doesn't matter if its traffic or birdsong just listen to the sounds without thoughts.

When having a shower let the water cascade off your head, brush it off your arms and legs and feel as if the tension is being swept down the drain. Bath time, get a bath bomb or a nice bath gel and really take in the scent, the feel of the water and the warmth.

Try a retreat if you can get away for a day or so somehwere such as : Chetham farm Retreat

https://www.chethamfarmretreat.com

Speak to someone that is trained in Holistic therapies such as :

Eden holistic practitioners

https://www.edenholisticpractitioners.co.uk

Lynn Meadowcroft

lynnmeadowcroft.com

This won't suddenly make everything easier or better, but it will help to ease some of the tension, some of the pain.

You need to be kind to yourself, you are hurting, you are missing a piece of your heart and it will take time to ease the ache, but in the mean time take care of you.

A female in a Yoga pose facing a sunrise, on a blanket on a wooden platform