Departed Friend Newsletter No. 38 Mar ’10


I will never forget watching, many years ago, a television programme in which a man with tears streaming down his face poured out his grief at the accidental death of his twin brother by electrocution.  I assumed, as many people would, that the tragedy was quite recent.  Then the man said it had happened 40 years ago but it felt like yesterday.

As with human bereavement, so it can be when we lose our beloved companion animals.  Things can trigger a fresh stab of pain long after we think we have come to terms with it, like the owner who still feels sad going on particular walks, 4 years on from the death of her dog – or it could be a chance remark, or a tune that comes on the radio.  But sometimes the feeling seems to bubble up out of nowhere, like the sudden eruption of a volcano that is mostly dormant. I get moments when I feel again the losses of years gone by, including that of Julipuss who went missing in 1968.         (see DF no. 23). 

All this is perfectly normal – and only to be expected, especially if there are unresolved issues or the bond was strong.  But luckily the pangs are likely to be intermittent – sometimes few and far between, and most of our memories will be happy ones.

The following tribute is a moving example of the enduring love that we have for our animal friends:

Sparky ~ our first love

It’s funny how the past comes back; it’s like looking through a window, like yesterday..……

    Our first house was at the top of a dirt track road:  it was nice and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle – a neat little cottage with a field at the back; it was ok for cats. 

    The people in a cottage close by had a black cat called Blackie. She came in a lot to see us; she would curl up have a sleep then go home again. She had 2 boy kittens – a Tabby like his dad and all black like his mum. She was a wonderful mum but after 8 weeks the little black one went to a nice home and we kept the Tabby and called you Sparky.  You were so cute; your mum came every day to play with you then you would snuggle up together and sleep and you would nuzzle up to your mother. It was so funny to watch because sometimes she would pick you up and carry you back home.

      A few months later the family moved to a new home.  Blackie liked her new home but you would look and wonder as if to say ‘Where’s my mum gone?’ You were a happy cat – the kitchen window was always left open for you it was like your own personal entrance.

    I noticed one morning I had not seen you for a couple of hours. When I called you, there you were sat in some long grass; you didn’t look well.  I picked you up and brought 

you inside. You were very quiet, you didn’t want to eat or drink.  The vet gave you an injection but that didn’t help much; your eyes were tired I noticed.

    You did seem to pick up for a day or two but then it all came back. I took you in a taxi and he gave you 2 capsules and said you had a form of Leukaemia and in a few years’ time there would be a vaccine although some cats may be born with it.  I was very upset and instead of going home I went to my parents’ house and with you in my arms. You wanted to go under the coffee table; you laid down. You were so ill the capsules the vet had gave you were running out of your  mouth. I thought you were just sleeping but when I looked again you had slipped away…. my darling Sparky had left me. Heartbroken, I cried and cried till silent tears wet your fur – you had gone to Rainbow Bridge.  The music from Watership Down kept haunting me and always will: Why does the light that burns so brightly suddenly burn so pale? – Bright Eyes. But that’s how it was – your eyes always so bright – only 5 years old. 

     We were moving, couldn’t leave you there. We buried you in my mum and dad’s garden; at least there I could still be near you. And over the years our love of cats has grown and you know what? That’s thankyou to you Sparky  – our first love and always in our hearts.

 Mum and Dad xxxx



It breaks my heart

When it’s time to part.

I never know what to do.

I’m lost and sad

And the pain is bad

All for the loss of you.


Each cat is greatly treasured,

So how can love be measured?

The bond is strong for each and every one.

Decisions are made with care for you

And at the end I see you through

Hoping all I could do, I’ve done.

Eileen Clarke

Remembering, too, my beloved dog, Lassie.


Following the request from a DF reader for a care home that would accept animals (see DF no. 35) I am happy to say she  got in touch again, to say that her friends had found somewhere where they are very happy with their little dog.

DF reader Gladys Radwell kindly sent me the following article from the Surrey Advertiser, 14 August.2009:

Animal Campaign is taken to Westminster

“The manager of an Ash Vale care home has travelled to Westminster to speak about the benefits of allowing animals to live alongside residents.

     Alex Strong, from Abbeywood, was invited to a meeting at the House of Commons to speak about the advantages of pets in care homes and sheltered housing schemes. Those who live at the Anchor Homes’ residence share it with a cat, rabbits, chickens, lovebirds and goldfish. The Westminster audience included Dr Nick Palmer, MP for Broxtowe, who said: ‘Alex’s strong feelings on the issue shone through. It is obvious that she cares enormously about animals and the older people in her care.

     ‘The fact is that in the majority of cases pets contribute significantly to the quality of an individual’s life. Equally the grief caused by unnecessary separation from much-loved pets can be intense’”.

Your letters …… * 

I was so pleased to receive my copy of DF (no. 37) and both David and myself were so honoured that Henry was in the newsletter – looking very relaxed – I might say. I’m so pleased he plays with Sammie and the older girls get some peace as a result. We couldn’t have wished for a better home for Henry and will never be out of yours and Peter’s debt. Thanks. x

Gerry Robinson

Having now read several books on the subject, I am well on the way to believing our fur babies never leave us and their souls do indeed live on, though this does not stop us missing them, or take away that horrid ache deep in our hearts…..

December 2nd is the anniversary (of Polly Angel’s passing ~ see DF37, Ed.)  I have a shrine in her memory – a small table upon which stands her photo; memory box; an angel and a cross, all surrounded by fairy lights – it is close to my bed. On the bed are two cuddly teddies as nights are still lonely without her.

Lynn Burman

Thank you so much for the DFs. Our neighbour Gemma* recently lost her beloved dog Sampson*. She was so comforted by the DF we gave her. It’s such a vital thing you are doing. (*Names changed to preserve confidentiality) ~ Ed.

Rob & Becca

Thank you for the latest copy of departed friend. You work so hard on this and it’s such a tribute and comfort to all of us who have lost a member of our animal family. It’s so kind of you to give up your time and put so much effort into it.  A big thank-you again.

I hope all your cats are well and looking forward to being even more spoiled at Christmas than they usually are! Our Christmas will be tinged with sadness for all those we have known and lost personally and, of course, all those suffering out there in the world with no one to care for them; human and animal. This is especially hard for us because our wonderful Gordon has liver cancer and although he is doing really well at the moment, we know we will only have him with us for a short while longer. We have lost so many now and it never gets any easier. Jack died in the summer and that is still very raw, although he went downhill very quickly and died at home in my arms so we did not have this long period of extended heartache which I must say made the whole thing a little easier. Just this morning we lost a bird we rescued. We had got him through a couple of nights so we had hoped he would be o.k. but it wasn’t to be.

Tina & Mark Hughes

The Departed Friend Newsletter is, as it always has been, very interesting.  As you are aware, a pet becomes part of the home life and when the time comes, for whatever reason, their life has ended, it is very traumatic for the owner.  Your newsletter helps to heal the pain and for that alone you deserve full credit. 

Last year one of my tortoises who was about 60 years of    age and had been with me for 35 years had to be put to sleep.  As soon as he became ill I tried everything possible over about 10 months to cure him.  During that time the vet had seen him six times but a cure wasn’t to be.  It was then on the advice of the vet to say “goodbye.”  I know tortoises don’t do much, you can’t train them to any great extent and they don’t take any notice if they are shouted at.  However,  I was still upset when his life ended. 

Apart from one of my tortoises, all have been unwanted by previous owners.  The ages of tortoises I have are:

2 @ 5 years.  Confirmed age.
1 @ 7 years.  Confirmed age.
3 @ 55 years.  Estimated age.
1 @ 80 years.  Estimated age.

Ronnie Pigram


Hello Debby, I have very sad news, poor Jessie, she passed over on the 18th December to the spirit world. I can`t believe she is gone, she was such a little fighter and used more than 9 lives, she was getting so weak and thin since November and I was even boiling yucky things like chicken bones for her  – anything to help her get stronger. Two tumours had grown large and then two weeks before Christmas she was falling over a lot and walking like a new born lamb and couldn’t hold her head up for long, then she was getting so thin and she couldn’t poo and then a couple of days before she went she was gasping for breath. Mum and I took her to the vets and he had to help her into the next world, the vet had helped her through her illness for the last 3 years and she went very quickly as I held her wrapped in blankets and she was curled up like a foetus, I held her wrapped in blankets for ages before we buried her in Mum and Dad’s garden, their friend dug a deep hole for her and we put her in a box curled up still like Celtic people buried their dead, we have put things of hers into a memory box that I keep for cats who have left the mortal life.
I miss her very much, I had her almost 12 years and she battled with her cancer for almost 6 years and had 3 ops for it. She was 15 years old, Shadi her daughter misses her but she has Obi to cuddle up with and us. Her and Jess would huddle up all the time. It isn’t the same without her. I haven’t felt her spirit yet so I think she is catching up with her babies who died, she lost her second litter of kittens so I think she is spending time with them as she was very sad and distressed when she came to us after having lost the babies and she used to hide teddy bears round the house and cry, I think she is catching up with her little family.

Where her grave is a pink flower grew up so that is special, I miss her so much.
I went to her little grave at Mum and Dad’s house and put some little flowers there. I am going to choose a shrub in the spring to plant there over the grave.

Ali Browning


Dear Debby

Would you please include this photo of dear Happy in your next newsletter and as a dedication to him.  He was at the Centre in Nepal (Street Dogs of Nepal)*  

I support this organisation.



Because of the language barrier we don’t really know when he died exactly.  As you can see Happy was  severely disabled.  An old lady had been feeding him and then contacted the Centre where he has lived there for the past couple of years.  Bernie Wright goes over to Nepal about once a year – she is the founder.  She lives in Ireland and helps dogs there too – she works hard to help many animals. 

Many thanks and in sadness.

Best wishes  Sharon (Hopkins) 

*FOUNDED IN 2006 – SDON is a small sanctuary for those unfortunate dogs who cannot survive on Kathmandu’s streets. They operate a ‘no-kill’ policy for all dogs except the terminally ill or those beyond help.


 to Michelle & Daniel –

Serafina (RTA)

to Jose & Michael  –

Thomas (pts to prevent further suffering)

Please accept our deepest sympathy in your losses

Rest in peace …

It was the afternoon of 27 February, and we were on our way home, driving along the Old Bedford Road.  We saw a small bird fluttering in the middle of the road. We stopped the car. I did not know what I was going to do, only that I had to do something.  The bird’s head and neck appeared to be covered in blood, and I was trying to work out how to kill it quickly and painlessly….

When I got close, I saw that what I had mistaken for blood was the characteristic “red breast” of a robin.  The little bird had no blood on him and appeared to be uninjured.  I picked him up and cupped him in my hands to keep him warm on our journey.  While we were debating whether to take him to the vets, or take him home and keep him warm, the fluttering stopped; he was now quite still.

Though it was almost certain that he was dead, we decided to take him home, wrap him warmly in a blanket and put him quietly in a room – secure and away from the cats – till we were quite sure.  I examined him; there was not a mark on him.  I had never been that close to a robin before.  He was  very  beautiful.   Though I  am no  expert  on  birds,  he seemed quite young – what a waste of life.

I buried him in the garden, near to our beloved cat, Eric, and then lit a candle.  ~ Rest in peace.

My grandest foal
~ Author Unknown ~

I’ll lend you for a little while my grandest foal, He said.
For you to love while she’s alive and mourn for when she’s dead.
It may be one or twenty years, or days or months, you see.
But, will you, till I take her back, take care of her

for me?

She’ll bring her charms to gladden you, and should her stay be brief,
You’ll have treasured memories as solace for your grief.
I cannot promise she will stay, since all from earth


But, there are lessons taught on earth I want this foal to learn.
I’ve looked the wide world over in my search for teachers true.
And from the throngs that crowd life’s lanes, with trust, I have selected you.

Now will you give her your total love, nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to take her back again?
I know you’ll give her tenderness and love will bloom each day.
And for the happiness you’ve known forever grateful


But should I come and call for her much sooner than you’d planned
You’ll brave the bitter grief that comes and someday you’ll understand.

For though I’ll call her home to Me this promise to you I do make,
For all the love and care you gave she’ll wait for you, inside Heaven’s Gate.

 Thanks to Tina Hughes for this lovely poem – Ed.


Click on the right button of your mouse and select OPEN with the cursor on the line below.

Departed Friend No.38 March 2010


One Response

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    Thumbs up, and keep it going!


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