Departed Friend Newsletter No. 36 Sep ’09

EASE

~ a unique bereavement service ~

EASE is an animal welfare charity whose purpose is to promote and support the special relationship that can exist between a person and their pet, in the following ways:

1) Education to promote animal welfare, including literature on care of small animals and birds.

2) School Visits to encourage young children to realise the importance of being kind and gentle to all animals. (This vital work could help reduce cases of appalling animal and human cruelty, which so often start in childhood).

3) Preparing for pet loss programme. This is a free email service for people who anticipate the loss of a beloved pet Just as Departed Friend’s unique feature is the newsletter, EASE is unique in offering support before and during, as well as after, pet loss, recognising that loss may be anticipated because of terminal illness, old age, euthanasia or separation due to, for example, the break-up of a relationship or other causes. Pet bereavement counsellor Angela Garner says:

I know from personal experience and from my work supporting many people through pet loss how painful and difficult this journey can be. Everyone should have access to understanding and support, and I believe that if the person is as best prepared and as settled as possible it helps both the carer and the companion animal. Settlement is so important, and this comes through being able to talk and think things through, such as how to cope with the different emotions that arise.”

Pet Loss Support Sheets can be downloaded free of charge (if you are not online, ask a friend to download them for you – or send me an SAE; I will be pleased to do it for you – ed.)

 ‘When the time comes to say goodbye’ – a practical guide to after-death services for pet-owners

*   ‘Blemie’s Will’– written by playwright Eugene O’Neill to help his wife when their beloved dog was  dying

*   ‘Coping with pet euthanasia’

*   ‘Supporting a friend through pet loss’

*   ‘Coping with guilt in pet bereavement’

*   ‘Coping with grief in pet loss’

Audio Support. For broadband users, there is a short recording written and read by Angela entitled Support in Pet Bereavement which can be listened to on-line free of charge. It can also be purchased as a CD.

(I listened and found it very comforting; I can thoroughly recommend it. ed.)

Other Material (prices are on the order form)

 ‘Remembering my pet’ – pet bereavement activity book for children up to the age of around 10 years

    (A4 spiral bound)

* ‘In remembrance of a beloved pet’ – special writing presented in colour as A4 poster

* ‘Sympathy cards’ – in a variety of designs: dog, cat, pony, hamster, rabbit, butterfly or deer

Memorial stones

These beautiful Garden of Remembrance Stones are situated in Waunifor in Wales – a centre for retreats and international conferences whose workers are supporters of EASE. The stones are a collection of  large pebbles with the name of a beloved pet who has died on one side and on the  other side is written a quality or strength chosen to best reflect the gift they brought to their carer during their life.

(For details of how to contact EASE by post or email, please see the ‘Resources’ section at the end of this newsletter.)

Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation   –                ~   Khalil Gibran ~

Resource Review

GOODBYE, DEAR FRIEND

Coming to terms with the death of a pet

~ by Virginia Ironside ~

pb. 2009: JR Books

I first reviewed this remarkable book in DF no. 10, October 2003.  It has now been updated and reprinted. Aspects covered include Our Relationship with Pets, Grieving, Burial or Cremation? Memorials – and Comfort, Do they go to Heaven? all interspersed with suitable poems relevant to each theme. (Many bereaved people derive great comfort from poetry – which can express feelings in ways that prose often cannot). There is also a short resource list at the end.

There are numerous quotes from devoted owners – including well-known figures like the artist Tracy Emin who says:

‘I should be feeling secure and comfortable, but instead I am filled with fear. As I lie out in the sun, tears burn my eyes as I recount in my mind the last eight years of my life. Today I was given the news that Docket, my cat, has contracted feline Aids … Docket is not just a pet to me. Without sounding too corny, he is really like my baby. I constantly say this. I love him more than anything else in the world.’

There is a very useful new chapter on children’s bereavement, with heartrending quotes and sound advice on how to answer children’s questions – in ways suitable to different age groups. Pet bereavement in childhood is often our first direct experience with death, and it can be devasting:

‘I cried and cried and cried until I could cry no more, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t know where I was.’

‘I cried all morning at school.’

‘He was the only thing I could count on when my parents split up.’

This book is a must for anyone wanting to know how to help someone who is bereaved; it will also bring you comfort and reassurance if you are bereaved yourself.

(See ‘Resources’ section for how to order a copy.)

My dear sweet Oxo.

I miss and love you so much.

Sleep in peace.

Love always Jackie XXX

Resource Review

A CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE OF PET BEREAVEMENT

~ by May Tripp ~

 pb. Animal Christian Concern

May Tripp wrote the first part of this bereavement resource with no certainty that it would ever be published – as a way of remembering two of her dogs, Chiquita and Ben, and recapturing the lost joys of their youth; they had both died in extreme old age.  But it was the traumatic and unexpected loss of their third dog, Tanya, at the relatively young age of 11 that plunged May into a depressive illness – and spurred her on to shape the memories (with the addition of Tanya’s story) into an article that she hoped would be of help to other people.  Judging by the tributes she has received, she succeeded.

As with many people who grieve for companion animals,  May’s life has not been easy: there has been hardship and heartbreak – and human losses – in addition to bouts of clinical depression.

Readers will readily identify with May’s honest account of her journeys through grief  – and feel relieved to know that they are not the only ones to feel racked with guilt, despair and anger and, if they have a religious faith, to find their beliefs severely challenged. May was fortunate to be supported by prayer and the healing ministry and was able, eventually, to find comfort in her faith.  In 1985 May founded Christian Animal Concern as a consequence of the impact of the dog Chiquita’s life and death upon her family.

May has a deep and compassionate insight into how people can react to the loss of a beloved animal:

These people have the same symptoms as those suffering from human bereavement, and in extreme cases their feelings of loneliness and grief can be suicidal. They need the reassurance that the strength of the bond … is sensitively understood. They need to be able to grieve.’  

As a Christian, May has found comfort and reassurance from Biblical references to God’s love for animals (Not one sparrow is forgotten by God) – and a vision of the life hereafter where the Lion and the Lamb shall lie down together in peace.  There is also a very interesting and useful addendum ‘The Bible and Animals’ which answers the following questions:

Are animals created to be our companions?

Do animals have souls/spirits?

Were animals redeemed with the death of Christ?

The answer “Yes” to all the above is backed up by scholarly but easy-to-read evidence that the Bible makes no distinction between the spirits of people or animals (the Hebrew and Greek words for  human and animal spirits being the same in each case). Psalm 104:30 clearly states that animals are created from God’s spirit – which is eternal.

Though it is written from a Christian perspective, there is much in this article to which people of all faiths and none can relate, and from which they can derive comfort:

The cathartic value of writing a short life history of a precious companion animal so that memories are preserved

The understanding and empathy of the author which will comfort the reader

The honest account of life’s hardships and  negative feelings worked through and overcome

The importance of help and support from others

The true place of animals in creation (priceless and equal with humans) and the uniqueness of each individual.  Though it is expressed here in Christian terms, people of other faiths may be stimulated to research their own belief systems for similar perspectives. For people who do not follow a religious or spiritual path, the secular parallel will 

be to show equal respect for all (whether human or other animal) in this life and to give support and understanding to those who grieve.

(See ‘Resources’ section for how to order a copy.)

Your letters ……” *

Dear Debby

Would you please put in your next newsletter that my dear cat Benny was put to sleep on 9 July.  He had kidney failure.  He was over 20 years old and we still miss him terribly.  I still look at the places in the garden where he liked to sleep and rest.  The vet came to the house and everything was done very peacefully and the vet was very professional.  Many thanks.

Best wishes  Sharon Hopkins

 ***********************************

I have signed the petition** as requested.  To lose that beautiful cat in such a horrendous way must have been terrible.  I can still remember the Dangerous Wild Animals Act becoming law.  Prior to it being established, people were keeping lions, tigers and leopards in their back gardens – at least, one man was; he was very threatening towards the neighbours when they complained.  So the government put the brake on it and not before time!  Anyway – Good Luck with the petition!

      Whilst writing, could I mention that I have at last managed to get “Departed Friend” on the screen.  So if it will save your postage, I don’t really need to have paper copies as well.  If I know of anyone who would like a copy to be sent to them, I’ll let you know.  Meanwhile, my very best wishes for all your endeavours.

     Love  Helen Constance

P.S. – Although my cat Domino is black and white (spotted like a domino), his facial expression is just like Wilbur’s –

kind of sad when he thinks I’m going to leave him, so I feel haunted by the picture of Wilbur.

(**The petition asks for a change in the law to protect pet animals like Wilbur the cat who, tragically, was asphyxiated and eaten by a pet python. The petition can be found at http://www.justiceforwilbur.co.uk)

Your newsletter is very interesting especially the information on the Cinnamon Trust.  (See DF35, ed.) What always worries me is not being able to have my dogs with me.

      At this moment in time I do not have a problem and hope that, like my mum, I will always be able to look after myself.  I also know that if I did have to think about a home and could not have my dog(s) with me then one of my sons would take them as they both love animals.  The point would be that I would be alone !   My dogs are a great part of my life and I can not imagine my life with out them !   When Angel sleeps at the end of my bed she gives me security.  I know that no-one can come near any part of my house without Sandy and Angel barking !! Keep up the good work.
 
     Best wishes  Maureen with Sandy and Angel x

You’ll be sorry to hear that we finally lost our battle with dear little Mystic Mog yesterday. She lost the ability to eat or drink Friday afternoon, and when we went to wash her legs, she buckled under the weight of the towel. It was so sad. We took her to the vet as soon as it opened yesterday 9am and he couldn’t do any more for her so we had to have her put to sleep. She is being collected for cremation on Thursday. At least my favourite vet was on duty which was a huge relief!

       Later yesterday evening, we were leaving the house to drive my niece and her girlfriend to the station, when my new neighbour came running down my drive saying a cat had been run over up the road, and was lying in the middle of the road! So we grabbed some towels and Bill ran up and got it. There is one vet where we live open at night so we rushed it up there. It was still alive, but its eye was completely hanging out and its jaw was broken. No microchip or collar, but Bill told a bystander where we were taking it, and as we were leaving the vets, the owners phoned up and were on their way. I just hope they had enough money for treatment, and didn’t have it put down cos the vet thought it could be saved. What a bizarre day!!!

Love  Joolz xxxxx

Dear Friends, I am sad today, my 15 year old cat Alex (see photo) has passed away. In March he had been diagnosed with unoperable liver cancer and today we noticed he was suffering so we called the vet who came to the house to gently ease him out of his painful little body. This evening we will bury him in the woods nearby.  

       Alex was an English aristocat, he hailed from Kent and he also lived with me in Spain and Holland; he was the best companion in the world. He was an officer and a gentleman, not at all interested in hunting or fishing, he was more the poet and the ponderer. He has left me to get his wings, he more than deserves them.

Goodbye Stan

Now I lay me down to rest

Tabby head on tabby chest;

They all say it’s for the best…

And I’m too tired to care.

He took me in the car again.

I couldn’t see. I heard the rain.

They’re going to take away the pain.

There’s darkness everywhere.

I’ll miss the sunshine on the lawn,

I’ll miss the thrush upon the thorn

The fireside in a winter storm –

They’re gone for evermore.

He trembled as he held me tight,

He told me it would be all right.

And then he shut the door.

We are grateful to DF reader Eileen Clarke for sending us this beautiful poem. If anyone has come across it  before and knows who wrote it, please let me know.  ed.

Pet memorial jewelry

Kimberly and Gervais are a remarkable couple living in Canada. They have 4 children and are caretaker to many companion animals: dogs, cats, horses, rats, birds and a potbellied pig. Kimberly is a talented jewelry artisan and Reiki 2 practitioner. Gervais has IT and business skills.  Together they make a powerful combination to offer help to bereaved people. It is well known that having a tangible memorial to a lost loved one, like jewelry, can help the grieving process. (I have lockets with photos or fur and t-shirts with photographs of animals I have loved and lost – ed.)

Kimberly and Gervais run a family business which offers cat, dog and horse memorial jewelry, with memorials to potbellied pigs coming soon; they know at first hand the pain of losing beloved pets.  

They also have a “Rainbow Bridge” service, where bereaved people can write a tribute to a lost loved one. This is free of charge, and can be very valuable in expressing and publicising how much a particular animal meant, and continues to mean, to the people left behind.

They also offer (via a separate website) memorial jewelry for human bereavement via “miscarriage, infant loss and loss of loved ones”.   Kimberly says:

One of my favourite quotes from my grief work is ” A broken heart is a broken heart.” You cannot have any one upmanship in grief. Grief after the loss of a loved one, be they a tiny baby, an adult or an animal, is devastating and painful. 

For contact details, see Resources.

Other commemorative jewelry.

 

  Commemorative diamonds can be grown from fur, nail clippings or cremated ashes.   The  stone  can be set  
in some of the owner’s existing jewelry or designs  from  the   provider. If preferred, bespoke designs can be created in consultation with the provider. This unusual memorial is expensive, one supplier quoting £649.00 for a diamond ring.For details of suppliers, see Resources.

Following the article about animal therapy in a psychiatric hospital featured in DF35, here is another testimony from one of the patients:

My Responsibility of Looking After the Hospital Hamster

I’ve had Lewis in my room for over a year now, although Lewis is the ward hamster I have been his main carer making sure he gets cleaned out, fed and given water daily and regularly handled.  It’s good in so many ways, having Lewis in my room, although he only wakes in the evenings he’s actually great company. 

Listening to him rustling around in his cage and wheel, Lewis being there has helped with my over-whelming feelings of loneliness. 

I love the responsibility of looking after him, knowing his routine, eating habits and general health.  I would know instantly if he was unwell, I even know if he’s feeling a little low himself. 

When I’m really struggling in mood, I often get Lewis out and handle him, I can tell him all of my problems, and although he can’t answer back, it still helps.  There have been times I look back and think Lewis has saved my life, as

I used to feel extremely suicidal, I used to look at Lewis’s cage and think about him and what would happen to him if I killed myself, it would prevent me from ligaturing, especially if he was awake, as I would never self harm or attempt suicide with him watching me-I’d feel so guilty. 

As little as Lewis is, his huge personality as a hamster makes me so happy; he always comes to me when I open his cage which makes me feel wanted and special.  I just hope he is aware of the difference he has and still does make to my life.

We are grateful to therapist Louise and to the patients for permission to print these inspiring articles: there will be more to come  in subsequent editions of the newsletter.  ed

Advertisements

One Response

  1. Hi, I am writing about the poem “Goodbye Stan” which was on your blog in Sept 09.

    Well, I have been searching for the poem for about 30 years since I was about 8 years old.

    My family and I have always had many animal friends and I always remember my mother had an old copy of “SHE” magazine (UK edition) from which she clipped out an entry into a poetry contest which was “Goodbye Stan”. The clipping was sadly lost but I remember that the author was a man and he had written the poem about his own cat who he had recently lost; Stan.

    Over the years, whenever one of our beloved animals has died, either by accident or illness we have always referred to this poem; I googled it by the lines and snippets I could remember.

    I am so very happy to have found it and will now copy it safely. My renewed search was prompted because one week ago we had to have our darling 13 year old Poppy dog put to sleep because of heart failure. As I laid her to rest in our olive grove (we live on the island of Crete) I said part of this poem.

    Now I have it all. Thank you so very much.

    Leonie Giddings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: