Summer is coming to an end here in Calgary, you can feel it in the air. I noticed today that the leaves are starting to change. Last year on Aug 28th, I posted here about our move to our new home in one of the most beautiful parts of Calgary…by the river…lots of space and close to nature. My connection to this city is strong. On the 28th we always remember our boy Kirby by going down to a special place in Fish Creek where we scattered some of his ashes, now eight years ago. Boomer doesn’t mind tagging along ~ he knows he will be remembered just as lovingly many years from now. Oh these dogs ~ they’ll break your heart one day you know.
This past summer I was fortunate to write about pet loss in Modern Dog Magazine. As summer wraps up and they are set to release their fall issue, I wanted to share my article here on my own blog. This is the perfect day to share it. Many of these tips below are inspired from personal experience and the experiences of my clients. And as always, if you are interested in contributing to the Heeling Project be sure to check out the site info here or send me an email.
The summer issue of Modern Dog will still be available for a couple more weeks, so make sure you get out and grab your copy 🙂 (Chapters, London Drugs, SuperStore …)
6 Things To Help You Through Pet Loss Grief ~ Modern Dog Magazine, Summer 2015
Losing a pet can be one of the most devastating experiences a guardian can go through. Grief is a profound emotion that challenges us to stop and honour our loss. It asks us to take the time to heal. The following ideas may help you to navigate through this difficult process.
#1. Hold a Funeral, Memorial or Wake
A ceremony can provide a formal setting in which to say your goodbyes, offering an outlet for expressing grief in a supportive, compassionate atmosphere. A funeral, memorial or wake can also give your fellow dog friends the chance to show their support and comfort you during your loss. Many pet crematoriums are now accommodating a wide variety of pet loss services, though you can also choose to hold a ceremony at home or at your dog’s favourite park.
#2. Connect with an Animal Communicator
One session with a great animal communicator can provide immense relief from grief or other accumulated feelings such as guilt or anger. Animal communication is an intuitive process that incorporates energy work. Do some research and be sure that you are working with a highly reputable communicator. After that, all that is needed is an open mind and a willingness to trust that there are people who, like our dogs, have maintained their ability to perceive more than meets the eye.
#3. Create a Tribute
Creative activities can be extremely cathartic and help you to move through your emotions. Projects such as photo books or videos are great ways to commemorate the relationship you had and the memories you hold. Piecing together custom shadow boxes with your dog’s toys, leash or collar is another great way to honour the connection you shared.
In the case of a prolonged decline in health, the months spent at veterinary appointments managing a dog’s illness can often overshadow the years of health and happy moments. Creating a tribute gives you the space and time to reminisce over all of the good times you had together, from puppy breath through to the final moments.
#4. Take Leash Walks
Simply walking is very grounding and therapeutic. Being outside in the fresh air can help to clear our heads and let go of thoughts that do not serve us. For months after the loss of my beloved dog Kirby, I continued to walk our favourite routes every day. I brought his leash with me, draping it over my neck and tucking it under my coat. It connected me to the bond we had shared and the memories I had of him. It became a daily act of letting go and accepting what is.
Familiar faces out walking their dogs will likely want to help you too. Stop to say hi to other people’s dogs. Neither will mind.
#5. Seek Professional Support
Much of our social conditioning causes us to undervalue or negate how we feel. This can be compounded when those around us become uncomfortable with our outward expression of loss. Unfortunately, the tendency to suppress or ignore the messages of our emotions can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health.
Even when you have the support of friends and family, connecting with a professional who is empathetic to pet loss can make a world of difference in your overall wellbeing. Booking a session or two with a grief counselor, an EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) or BodyTalk Practitioner are all great ways to help you to fully experience and release your emotions in a healthy way.
#6. Open Your Heart
When you’re ready, consider welcoming another dog into your heart. There are so many great dogs sitting in shelters that are in need of homes. Though it may not feel like it to begin with, there is room in your heart for a new canine love, and welcoming a new dog into your household in no way diminishes your love for your departed friend—in fact, I think it’s a rather wonderful tribute.