Often “regular people” view us “animal lovers” as freaks. We’ve all heard the term “crazy cat lady”. Or, they believe we use our pets to replace our children or lack there of, etc. There are many misconceptions out there as to why we love our animals the way we that we do. Thankfully, in the last decade, especially in the past 5 years, there has been a drastic shift to this thinking. It is becoming more “normal” to treat our pets as part of our family, rather then segregating them to their area of the yard or garage. More hotels are allowing pets to stay in the room with us and they are even providing them with fluffy beds and treats. Some restaurants even permit animals, if you are seated in the outdoor area. Boarding facilities are beginning to look like mini 5 star hotels with all the creature comforts of home. It’s wonderful to finally see this movement.
Unfortunately, I have personally not experienced this same forward thinking when it comes to losing a pet. It has been a very difficult time for me recently. In the past 22 months I have lost 2 of my precious yorkies , one of my lovebirds and both of my sweet bunnies. Thats 5 fur/feather kids in less then 2 years and my heart aches. I feel these losses so deeply. They stay with me. They are not fleeting emotions. While it is true that there are thousands of products available to us now to help memorialize our pets, I have found that for the most part, people expect you to be fine as soon as your pet is buried or cremeated. This lack of understanding of the bond that true animal lovers form with their pets is hard to endure. I want to mourn my loss. I NEED to mourn my loss. I need to talk about it and express my emotions. I need to tell stories about my pet and laugh and cry. Most importantly, I need it to be ok for me to do this and not be considered just this side of crazy. Hopefully, we will see a shift in the right direction when it comes to the way “regular people” view the way “pet lovers” mourn their pets as well.
Until then, I would love to share with you some things that have helped and continue to help me grieve the loss of my angels. I write this through tears, as the hole in my heart will always remain and if you are reading this, chances are good that you have that hole as well, so please accept my deepest and most sincere sympathies for your loss. Now back to the subject at hand…things that have helped me find my way through the grief. One of the biggest things that has helped me is taking the time to find the right place to bury your pet or their ashes. Too often I think people just choose an out of the way spot at the back of their property. I never understood this. Take the time to choose a special spot, whether it’s a spot in your garden where you like to spend time or it’s a place in your yard that your pet seemed to favor or enjoy. By doing this small thing, you have done something huge to help you begin to really mourn your pet.
I mentioned earlier the thousands of pet memorial products available to pet lovers now, from memorial stones and jewelry to urns and even little caskets. I have been quite the little consumer of these products, I have to admit. While I do cherish the items I painstakingly chose to buy, I began to notice something with each new product that I purchased. I would eagerly await the delivery of the item, only to feel an emptiness once it arrived. It never made me feel any closer to my pet that I was dearly missing. I needed to find my way through the grief differently.
Because my animals go to work with me every day at my gym, they are loved by many and this is a beautiful thing. I was on the receiving end of so many thoughtful and loving gifts with the loss of each pet. Now here is the cool part…as I sat back and really looked at them collectively, each pet somehow ended up having a theme to the gifts. This was not planned. Nobody was aware of what other gifts had been received. So I came up with the idea to make a little garden for each pet where they were buried. I designed the gardens around the gifts that we had been blessed with and the sunlight or shade that the spot is in and they are a blooming, ever changing, work in progress. When I work in the little gardens, I get some one on one time to chat with my little fur angel and each time, I heal just a tiny bit more…
I hope that at the very least you found some words of comfort or maybe I sparked an idea of your own that might help you work through your grief. If you give the garden idea a try, don’t forget to add some solar lights. It’s just a good, warm feeling when they light up each night. They never fail to make me smile or cry. Either way I figure it’s a good thing!