We have been overwhelmed by the response of the Do You Believe in Dog? community to the death of Mia's dog, Elke. It's obvious this has struck a chord because so many people can relate to this emotional time of losing a much loved canine companion.
Thank you all for your messages of sympathy and support.
We decided to compile some resources to help you, or a friend, prepare for and cope with this difficult (and inevitable) part of sharing our lives with dogs.
Understanding Grief: The Australian centre for grief and bereavement offer excellent information on their website. We have included some key excerpts and links.
About Grief Suggestions to help you get through this difficult time:
- Create a memorial - do or make something to honour your loved one.
- Develop your own rituals - light a candle, listen to special music, make a special place to think.
- Allowing yourself to express your thoughts and feelings privately can help. Write a letter or a poem (or a blog post!), draw, collect photos, cry.
- Exercise - do something to use pent-up energy, walk, swim, garden, chop wood.
- Draw on religious and spiritual beliefs, if this is helpful.
- Read about other people's experience - find books and articles.
- Do things that are relaxing and soothing.
- Some holistic or self care ideas that may assist include meditation, distractions, relaxation, massage, aromatherapy and warmth.
- To help with sleeplessness: exercise, limit alcohol, eat well before sleeping, and try to have a routine.
Sharing with other people can reduce the sense of isolation and aloneness that comes with grief.
- Allow people to help you, don't be embarrassed to accept their help. You will be able to help someone else at another time. It is your turn now.
- Talk to family and friends; sharing memories and stories, thoughts and feelings can be comforting and strengthen our connection with our loved one.
- Consider joining a support group to share with others who have had similar experiences.
- Talk with a counsellor to focus on your unique situation, to find support and comfort, and to find other ways to manage, especially when either your life or your grief seems to be complicated and particularly difficult.
Advice from the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement:
Explaining Death to Children:
- PsychCentral - helpful guide to explaining pet loss with age-group specific suggestions
- How to talk to your pre-schooler about death
- ASPCA Helping your child when the family pet dies
Fact Sheets and Support Services:
- ASPCA: Pet Loss FAQ, End of life FAQ, Pet loss helpline (USA) details
- Dogs Trust (UK) Fact Sheet: Coping with the death of your dog
- RSPCA Victoria (Australia): Grieving for a lost pet
- Grief Support Services (Australia)
- Pet Loss Support @Cornell (USA)
- Pet Loss Support @Tufts (USA)
- Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement Website (USA)
Our journeys with dogs are incredibly personal. End-of-life feelings and decisions can have similar elements. We hope these resources prove useful.
Mia and Julie
Fuhr N. & Ruthven I. (2012) Grieving online: the use of search engines in times of grief and bereavement, Proceedings of the 4th Information Interaction in Context Symposium, 120. DOI: 10.1145/2362724.2362747
Planchon L.A. & Templer D.I. (1996). The Correlates of Grief after Death of Pet, Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 9 (2) 107-113. DOI: 10.2752/089279396787001491
Packman W., Field N.P., Carmack B.J. & Ronen R. (2011). Continuing Bonds and Psychosocial Adjustment in Pet Loss, Journal of Loss and Trauma, 16 (4) 341-357. DOI: 10.1080/15325024.2011.572046
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