Issue No. 9 Aug ’03

DF Debby on stall0001

Departed Friend stall at Luton Carnival

Bank Holiday Monday

26 May 2003

CHESTER

DF Chester0002

Chester, do you know how much

I care?

Loneliness gets to me when you’re

  not there.

Of course I loved you, Silly!

  You don’t have to ask.

You know that I know our love

  would always last,

Even when the final curtain

  was drawn

I always knew you would be

  Re-born.

And our love would last for

  Eternity.

Don’t worry about me Love,

  I’m doing OK.

But still wait in hope for that day

When we can meet on the other

  Side,

Where you have waited so long,

  patiently, just waiting,

Till we meet in Heaven where

We both belong.

                                                 ~ Jamie.

In Loving Memory of Teddy

1985 – 2003

 __________________________________________

MY BROTHER RAYMOND owns a freight forwarding company in Bradford, Yorkshire, and one sunny morning back in 1985, Raymond was sat with his door open in his office when a little kitten walked in.  ‘Hello’ he said.  ‘Where have you come from?  You’re too young to be out.’

Keith walked in (the warehouse manager).  ‘You’re lovely’ he said.  ‘Just like a little teddy bear’ and from that day on, Teddy, you never left the warehouse.

“SHE WAS A GIRL” and a lovely friendship formed between you and Keith.  You liked to chase paper balls in the big office.  Always full of fun.  You had a bed in Raymond’s office, in the kitchen, you had beds all over – but your favourite was a big kennel Keith made in the warehouse with a radiator fitted; it was very safe, and it kept you warm on those cold winter nights.  You loved it.

My mum came every Tuesday and brought you fish and chicken and lots of cat food for the week.  You always ran to meet her; you looked forward to your treats and she changed your beds and kept them clean.

You kept away from the fork lift trucks but liked to have a little snooze on them when they were quiet.

AND OVER THE YEARS everything was the same apart from three miserable men in the office who didn’t like cats.  But that didn’t worry you.

At the beginning of June, Keith took his holidays.  That was OK.  Raymond was with you; it was always arranged like that.  When Keith came back, Raymond took his holidays and, as usual, picked you up and said: ‘Behave yourself.  See you when I get back.’  One of the miserable men in the office was left in charge.  His name was Robert. 

On the Tuesday of that week Keith noticed that you weren’t breathing very well.  ‘I think it’s time for a visit to the doctor’s’ – said Keith.

The vet kept you in two nights for lots of tests and    X-rays and they found a tumour on your lungs. 

On Thursday morning Keith was out of the warehouse on a job.  When the vet rang up the office to give some very sad news, Robert took the call.  He said while Teddy was still under sedation and very poorly it would be kinder if Teddy was given euthanasia now and Robert said: ‘Yeh OK.’

The vet later rang back and asked: ‘Would you like the body back for burial?’ and Robert answered: ‘No.’

Keith came back later that day and rang the vet – only to be told the news and it was too late to bring Teddy back.  ‘Why?’ thought Keith.  ‘Why are people so hard and cruel?’  He was devastated.  Robert didn’t like Teddy for some reason, but what right did he have to make a final decision?  “I could think of a few names to call him.”

Keith has put her photo up in the warehouse and knows her spirit will always be with him at the warehouse until Keith retires one day – and they will walk home together.

C M Francis

 ************************************

KOREA ANIMAL PROTECTION SOCIETY

2004 CALENDAR

 This is a bargain at £10.00.  If you want one, please send a cheque or postal order made out to KAPS to Anne Phair: Amyas Way, Northam, Bideford, Devon EX 39 1UT. Tel. 01237 47729127.

 As well as getting a beautiful and unusual gift for yourself or a friend, you will also be helping to save cats and dogs from a terrible fate – cramped conditions, followed by torture, slaughter and consumption as meat or soup.

——————————————————- 

Your Letters ….. #*

        Thanks a million for sending the Departed Friend newsletters.  They are great.  I especially liked the article about companion animals grieving for their deceased friends.  I have been going through that with Missy – she really misses Princess.

Are the newsletters a ministry of your church?  I’d like to start some kind of pet ministry at my church – any suggestions or ideas?   We have the annual pet blessing every October, but I’d like to do more.

Linda Shipp

 Departed Friend is itself non-denominational, though we like to feature different beliefs and experiences.  If anyone has any ideas or suggestions for Linda, please let us know and we will pass them on.                   

 Ed.

 ____________________________________ 

       After nine months I am finally coming to terms with losing Tiss Tiss but I still can’t get his photographs out.  I think of him every day and especially as the kitchen window faces the garden and the spot where I first saw him and when he had been fed, he always went back to this spot in the garden to wash himself.

I have put a large white tile (12” x 6”) with a blue design in the middle on “his spot”.  I thought about having a plant there, but it is under a tree and I don’t think it would have survived unless you can think of a perennial plant to put there. (Any ideas?  – ed.)

I usually find something good to come out of bad experiences but I’m hard pressed to find something good to come out of Tiss Tiss’s tragic death.  The only thing I can come up with is that the experience has made me draw closer to Spiritualism and I am working harder for the animals’ charities (giving leaflets out etc.)

Una Milner

 *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

I am writing to ask if you have copies of all the DF newsletters as I have given all mine away to people….. 

I wonder if you would put this little bit in about Badger, our great friend who we lost this week very quickly over 2 days.  He was diagnosed with FIV 3 years ago so we knew he wouldn’t go on forever.  But it’s still a great shock and we missed his lovely face and greeting when we got in yesterday.

So sorry to hear about your losses.  It is very helpful for people to read DF especially those living alone who lose a dear Animal Friend.

Rob & Becca

DF Badger the cat0001

WHEN GRIEF IS MADE WORSE

       Losing a much loved animal is painful whatever the circumstances, but sometimes there are additional factors which can make everything seem worse and our loss more difficult to come to terms with.  The following examples come from research, personal experience and testimonies* given to DF . They are not exhaustive (you may think of others not mentioned here) and they are very different from each other. It is all very individual; what devastates one person, another may take in their stride.  (*Identifiying details have been changed to preserve confidentiality.)

Though nothing can take the pain away, there are things you can do that might blunt the edges and tide you over the worst.  The following suggestions are made in the hope that something will help a little.  If none of them appeal to you, knowing what would not be helpful to you may inspire you to come up with ideas of your own.

Examples

  • Human and animal bereavement close in time.   Whichever way round this happens, it can be devastating to lose two loved ones close together.  John and Mary had been married 44 years when John died.  They had adopted Jake, a dog of exceptional character, from Battersea Dogs’ Home.  When he died 2 years after John, Mary was left on her own with no close family.
  • More than one animal loss in quick succession. .See DF’s 7 and 8 for accounts of two special cats from the same family (Tinker and Spooky) who died within 7 weeks of each other.
  • Sudden, unexpected death. Road traffic accidents account for many of these.  It can be hard to accept this senseless-seeming loss, with no warning and no chance to say goodbye.           4 weeks after losing his young cat, Sooty, in this way, Chris feels depressed and unhappy and, though he knows this is impossible, he keeps calling for Sooty and hoping he will come back.
  • Untimely death, including loss of a very young animal.  This is accentuated by the feeling that it is unfair and unnatural – a tragic waste.  Liz was devastated when the baby guinea pig she was hand-rearing died.  Though she only had it a short time, she had formed a very strong bond.
  • Where the death is traumatic.  Una writes (See above and also DF 7) of her cat, Tiss Tiss, who had gone missing:  “I enquired all around and then a young woman said 2 dogs had killed him.  Her neighbour said that he had seen the dogs with my cat, but he didn’t do anything about it.”
  • Where traumatic death is witnessed. A letter from a woman in Canada is quoted in DF6  “When I was 5 years old, a neighbour and his dog came to visit our farm.  While there, his dog killed my ‘kitty’ who had been my closest companion for as long as I could remember.  … I watched my white Persian kitty suffer and die out on the snow.”
  • Disappearance.  It is very hard to come to terms when there is no  ‘death’ as such; no knowledge of what has happened and no body for which to make final arrangements.  DF1 recounts the distress of Alex, a teenager with mild learning difficulties, who took years to come to terms with losing Cindy,  his adored mongrel dog.
  • Where choice is denied.  What arrangements we make for the final disposal our animals’ remains is a deeply personal decision.  See article ‘In loving Memory of Teddy’ above for a distressing account of when that choice was denied.
  • Absent when animal dies or is put to sleep. Some people choose not to be present when euthanasia is carried out, and that is right for them.  For others, prevented by circumstances or in hindsight, this can cause distress.  Joan left her ailing rabbit with the vet overnight, only to be told in the morning that he had died.  She was overcome with guilt.  Likewise, Paul was not there when Sandy (his old cat) had to be put to sleep.  He thinks of her every day and feels guilty – unable to move on and say goodbye.
  • Feel isolated in grief – what is ‘normal?’  Because this subject is still relatively unrecognised, it is sometimes hard for us to know if what we are feeling is normal.  We bottle it all up because (like Paul, mentioned above) we fear other people may not understand or will make fun of us or say insensitive things.
  • Feel guilty if grieving more for an animal than for a human.  This is a common occurrence and examples are quoted in DF6, including the different reactions I had when Spirit (a pony I loved) died and my mother died a few weeks later.

Suggestions

  • Talk to someone.  The old adage ‘A trouble shared is a trouble halved’ contains some truth.  If possible, find someone who has been  through it as well.  Knowing you are not alone can lessen the sense of isolation and reassure you that your feelings are natural.
  • Telephone helpline, books, e-mail or website.   See the ‘Resources’ section at the end of this newsletter for details.  It often helps to read of  other people’s experiences and can help you to feel that you are not the only one.
  • Write about the event to pinpoint what is causing you the most pain.  I have personally found this very helpful.  I was stuck in grief over Spirit the pony (see DF1) and it was only when I was able to work out why, through writing about it,  that I was able to move on.
  • Write a letter to the animal.  ‘If only….I hadn’t left the gate open….. had noticed earlier that you were ill….. had not waited all that time to have you put to sleep….’ etc.  Guilt can play such a large part in our grief.  By writing a letter to the animal, we can sometimes get things out of our system, letting go of aspects we don’t need to feel guilty about and saying sorry for those that we do.   This can be a personal and private exercise.
  • Write a poem or tribute; draw or paint a picture. Doing something creative to commemorate your special animal can sometimes be very healing.  This can be for private or public consumption
  • Create a photo display/album.  If this is not too painful, it can be healing to build that special collection of memories when you are ready to do so.  It can also help you to see once again all the good times you shared and not just focus on the distress caused at the end. 
  • Special place or objects.   You can treasure a special place or objects (the grave, the ashes, collar and lead, some of her fur) or a commemorative plaque or plant.
  • Ritual/memorial according to your beliefs.   Studies have shown that ritual is vitally important in helping us come to terms with the loss of a loved one – human or animal.   You may find that something appropriate already exists or you can devise your own – by yourself or with like-minded friends or family.
  • Try to take pleasure in unrelated things (music, reading etc.)  Even if grief is the dominant factor in your life at present, try to find something that interests you or that you like doing, so that despair does not take you over 100%.  Even if you can take your mind off it for as little as an hour a day – this is a start.
  • Be patient with yourself.  It is sometimes hard to  gauge how you think you ‘ought’ to be feeling.  There is no yardstick by which to measure this kind of grief and you might be wondering why it feels as bad as it does or why it is taking longer than you imagined to come to terms.   This may not suddenly happen; it is more likely to be a  process whereby the bad feelings gradually soften into something less painful and the good times start to return.
  • Allow yourself to move on when ready.  It is natural and right that you should do this; you are not betraying the relationship you shared with your animal by once again enjoying life or maybe deciding to give love to another.
  • If necessary, seek  professional help.  If you are suicidal or feel that everything is utterly hopeless and beyond your resources to resolve, then, as a matter of urgency, YOU MUST SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP.  Call the Samaritans and make a doctor’s appointment.   Taking that first step can sometimes ignite a tiny spark of hope.

 ———————————————————————————

The Power of the Dog

 When the body that lived at your single will,

With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)

When the spirit that answered your every mood

Is gone – wherever it goes –  for good,

You will discover how much you care,

And you will give your heart to a dog to tear.

Rudyard Kipling

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One Response

  1. Great post thanks

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