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Does Love Go On With Memories?

by Joy Davy, MS, LCPC, NCC

Even after death, the relationship goes on. This is an idea that brings comfort to many. You have your animal companion in your heart, a part of you, and as you go on through life, and think of your friend, the relationship continues to develop.

Your perspectives change, your appreciation may increase, and the love is always there.
eskie in snow
Whenever we get a big snowfall, my husband and I always think of Buddy, our American Eskimo mix, who loved to run out into snow showers and scoop up the soft snow on his nose, and then roll around in it, making snow-dog-angels.

When our kids would go to the sled hill, Buddy would go, too, running up and down the hill, greeting every man, woman and child there joyfully, beside himself with happiness.

When the kids would be shoveling, Buddy would be right there, lying in the snow, soaking in the crystal white ambience.

When the children would make a snowman, there would be Buddy, running in circles, playing, and guarding “his kids.”

“There was never a dog like him,” I say, whenever we get a good Chicago snowfall.

“There will never be another,” my husband says, looking out into the snowy yard that Buddy would love to dive into.

“What a great dog,” our (now grown) children say, remembering the sled hill.

And although we loved and appreciated Buddy at the time, I think our understanding of his special qualities continues to grow as time goes by.

We remember when we first got him as a pup. We had stopped in to a local shelter “just to look,” and came out with what looked like a little polar bear cub. He grew to be a strikingly beautiful dog, with a swagger and a smile that would make you think he understood full well what a charismatic impression he made.

eskie in grass
He was gentle and tolerant, and tuned in to the emotions and needs of his human family.

Even now, five years after his death, I feel a warmth in my heart when I think of Buddy. I feel his support, his sense of fun, his unwavering optimism that each day was going to be a great one, and each motion I made might result in something good to eat, or an adventure of some kind. And for Buddy, any time spent with his people was an adventure.

Even now, I think of Buddy as one of the important beings in my life, one of those milestone influences whose message of love and support stays with me always. He gave his full attention to making us happy, and we were his sole purpose in life. He was with our family during the growing up years of our children, and in my mind he stands for everything that was fun and beautiful and full of heart about those days.

I feel that even now, his message to me is, whatever you think it’s all about, think again: it’s all about the love.

Thank you, Buddy, for being who you were and are. Love you.

Please write your memories of your animal friend. What are the memories that still bring warmth to your heart?

joydavy2013

Joy Davy, M.S., L.C.P.C., N.C.C.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
15 Spinning Wheel Road
Suite 417
Hinsdale, Illinois  60521
Phone:  630-935-7915

website:  www.joydavy.com

please see my Pet Grief Blog:            http://joydavy2013.wordpress.com/

 

Why Don’t Other People Understand?

by Joy Davy, MS, LCPC, NCC

If you had a close bond with a pet, and he or she has passed away, you may find yourself feeling that a part of you is gone.
man n dog

Sometimes, it’s hard to find anyone who understands. The people who are closest to you may say the most foolish things.

They try to put it in perspective when they say, “It was just a pet.” They try to be helpful when they say, “Get another one.” They don’t know that these are the unkindest things they could say, because remarks like these show that they do not understand the depth of your attachment to your friend.

For you, “just a pet” does not describe the relationship you had. Your animal companion may have accompanied you through many stages of life, and was often your best support.

Many people say that their pet was truly their best friend, and that they would actually have preferred to spend time with their pet than with most people they could name.

Often, pet lovers identify so strongly with their pets, they feel that they have lost some of their identity when their pet passes away.

As for “getting another one,” when your heart is broken, this is probably not what you want to hear. Someday, when you have healed, you will think about that, perhaps. But people who want to rush you into replacing your irreplaceable friend are not helping.

When they exclaim, “What? You’re still upset about that animal? It’s been (x amount of time)!” here is something you can tell them: “I have lost a member of my family. I don’t expect you to understand, but I do expect you to respect my feelings.”

Do not allow anyone to rush you through this grief, any more than you would be rushed through grief following the death of anyone else important in your life. Allow yourself to go through all the stages of reaction to death: denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, acceptance.

If you feel that you are getting stuck in the depression stage, by all means, seek counseling with a professional counselor with an understanding of pet grief.

You have the right to grieve, and you have the need to grieve. You have had an important loss, and need time to work through it.
woman n cat
Helpful ways to mourn are to have some kind of ceremony to say good-bye, and to make a memorial for your pet. You may want to make a scrapbook, or put keepsakes such as tags, collar and favorite toy in a decorative box.

When you are feeling low, remember how your animal companion comforted you. What would he or she want you to feel now? Realize that you have your friend in your heart, internalized, for the rest of your life, and that love remains with you.

joydavy2013

Joy Davy, M.S., L.C.P.C., N.C.C.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
15 Spinning Wheel Road
Suite 417
Hinsdale, Illinois  60521
Phone:  630-935-7915

website:  www.joydavy.com

please see my Pet Grief Blog:            http://joydavy2013.wordpress.com/