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There is no easy way to deal with
losing a furry love. Our lives take on new meaning when
we are enveloped by their ever constant love,
companionship, and soulfulness. We consider ourselves
the lucky ones, though, as we have clearly discovered
the secret. A secret that is only shared by those who
have been nurtured by a kindred soul's simple teachings
of goodness and compassion.
As our animal
companions are forever dependent on our care, they assume
those roles typically assigned to children. And, there is no
greater despair than to endure the loss of a child. Research
indicates that after experiencing the death of a child, it
may take three to five years for one to move on or begin to
live their life again. We believe the same holds true for
our furry children. The amount of pain we experience when a
loved furchild dies is also a function of the level of the
relationship. If you were the person responsible for your
dog's needs, the one that your sweetheart cherished most,
the one who was always there, then you will need more time
to deal with this loss. All of that time that went into
building this unique bond with your dog needs to be worked
through. It can happen, but it takes time. The grieving
process is an important one, despite society's demanding
pace to move on.
I think of the many Goldens' whose time here with us is not
as long as we'd like... I wonder why? It may be that they
are able to give all the goodness they have within them, to
us, and do it so well that their mission here is over faster
than it might be for other dogs. Perhaps, like an evolved
soul, they don't need to live as long to learn what they
would here on earth. They already know most of what they
need. And they are experts at bestowing their presence on us
in a compacted period of time. So often, they are like
mentors and can impart the lessons which will teach us many
extraordinary things, by the simplest, kindest gesture from
I think Goldens unfurl their wings when we are
not looking. Have you ever noticed an expression they
have, especially when they smile, that gives hint to
something wondrous and grand? As if they have the most
incredible gift they are hiding behind their back but
you can tell they want so very much to show you what it
is. Well, when I see that expression I could swear I
feel the flutter of their wings in my heart. ... It is
said Goldens are puppies until the age of two. And that
for a few, they will always be pups. Yet in many ways
they are old beyond their years. They can touch and mold
our hearts, our spirits, and our minds. And in so doing
they bring us a little bit closer to embracing, within
ourselves, the goodness they are. Which is grander than
any concept of humanity.
We can never forget or replace the radiant place that our
furry loves hold in our hearts. But, we can hold on tight to
the memories of how they taught us to live, love & laugh.
"Life is not a journey to the grave, with the intention of
arriving safely, in one pretty and well-preserved piece, but
to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, worn out and
shouting 'WOW...what a ride.'"
The following words from Tracey Norris, from Scotland, illustrates this in such a
special way. "Rochelle, It was so kind of you to
think of me, I know you will know exactly how my heart is
feeling right now, but I am eternally grateful for the 15
wonderful years that Toby gave me, full of excitement and
Love, and a wonderful friendship that I will never forget.
Even though I no longer own a Golden I will continue to
visit your site daily as I always have. You are truly a
inspiration to us all. When we feel like it's the end of the
world when the death of our Golden happens, you are there to
inspire us with wonderful stories of love and affection.
That is what life is all about. Not dwelling but looking to
the future, knowing that our Goldens are having a wonderful
life over the bridge, and that we will all meet up again
someday and be reunited."
9 Important Essentials to Know Your Golden is truly one
of the family. A Golden is a cherished member of the family. He or she can take you for a walk
or just listen when you need someone to talk to. Their presence can also lower your blood
pressure, change your heart rate or take away feelings of loneliness. Just as we have the
ability to love, it is necessary to be able to grieve when our best friend
dies. And, the entire family needs to be allowed to grieve. Parents may feel uncomfortable
talking about the death to their kids. They think this will spare them some of the pain
and sadness. But, this is wrong. The whole family needs to talk freely together, even if
through tears. Kids certainly love their Golden pals with all their hearts and souls. Now
that their best friend is gone, they need to be allowed to grieve.
Your Golden's death will be an intensely upsetting
experience. This is not just a dog. This Golden family member helps us to define
exactly who we are and what we mean when we say the word family. Our society,
though, may not understand how distressful the event really is. They don't think you need
to grieve for a pet. And, you may even be teased for openly and honestly
showing your feelings. This may cause you to bury, hide, or ignore your sadness. But, this
is not a good thing. You cannot heal and come to accept this loss, if you haven't
expressed your painful feelings. Clichés don't help you feel better at all. You and your family will probably hear many clichés when this death happens.
Clichés are simple little comments that are meant to help you feel less pain. But, little
Band-Aids don't work when you're heart seems to be breaking in two. Comments like,
It was just a dog, or You can always get another one, or Be
glad you dont have to take care of him anymore are really hurtful rather than
helpful. They make your grieving more difficult. Golden memories are extremely helpful and healing. Memories are truly one of the best Golden legacies after a death like this has
occurred. It really does help to talk about and cherish these memories. Even those
memories of destructive puppy-ness are important. It's healing to remember when this
Golden wonder made you laugh, helped to comfort you, showed true love & devotion for
you, or simply made you scream out in frustration. And, it's okay if some of the memories
make you laugh. But remember, some are also likely to bring you sadness and cause tears.
But, memories that were made in love can never be taken away from your heart.
You could have mixed emotions about the death. When your Golden dies, you may experience many different emotions or feelings.
You could feel confused, sad, angry, or guilty. But, it's important to express these
feelings as ignoring them may keep you from overcoming the pain that you now feel. People
may tell you not to show these feelings. But, that may only be due to they're feeling
uncomfortable when they see you this way. And, they'd rather not see your distress when
they know they have no ability to change what has happened. Just remember, its healthy and
normal to feel this way. Each family member may have a particular way of showing their
grief, because each probably had their own special Golden relationship. No way is the
right or wrong way. Each of us has to grieve in our own way. Euthanasia can actually be an unselfish, loving thing to
do. This is the toughest thing that anyone could be forced to admit. But, the choice
to euthanize may be the right and loving one to make, especially if your guy is in extreme
pain or the quality of his life has really deteriorated. Usually, your veterinarian can
talk to you and explain how he thinks your buddy is feeling and what he thinks would be
most humane at this point. The euthanasia procedure causes no pain, and the doctor can
explain to you how everything works. Families have the ability to be with their hurting
buddy when the procedure takes place. But, they do not have to be present. Each family
member needs to do what is best for him or her. But, it is always important to spend some
special time telling your guy what he has meant to you and making your final good-byes.
Golden family rituals can honestly be helpful. Allowing a Golden funeral can be helpful and healing. It can allow time for each
person to share memories and openly express their emotions. Of course, some friends or
even people in your family may think that having a funeral is silly. But, this is the time
to listen to yourself, and what you want. Each person does what is right for him or her. A
funeral may provide relief as it allows you to formally pay tribute to your lost friend
who was and will always be very much loved. Trying to replace your Golden too soon can cause
problems. Families are often tempted to run out right away
to get another dog after one has died. Certainly, that's
what lots of friends and people in their family are telling
them to do. But, it's really not a wise idea. We have to
have a lot of time to heal, because we spent a lot of time
loving. Having a new pup will demand lots of energy and
attention, which will prevent you from having time to do
your grieving. We need to be careful not to send out the
wrong message. Your special buddy can never be replaced,
just like any other family member could not be replaced.
Could we simply go out and buy another brother if one died?
And, what would that person think about your being able to
replace him so quickly? There will surely come a time when
you know that your family's grieving is over. And, then will
be the time to build a new, though different, Golden
There Is One Best Place to
bury a Golden. "If you bury him in this spot, he will come to you
when you call—come to you over the grim dim frontier of
death and down the well-remembered path and to your side
again. And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel, they
shall not growl at him nor resent his coming ... for he
belongs there. People may scoff at you, who see no slightest
blade of grass bent by his foot fall, who hear no
whimper—people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at
them for you shall know something that is hidden from them
and which is well worth the knowing... The one best place to
bury a good dog is in the heart of his master." Ben Hur Lampman, Portland Oregonian, September 11, 1925
We have celebrated much during the many years that the
Land of PureGold has been online. Yet, with that
happiness comes tears due to continued losses. This
video montage, Golden Angels, pays honor
to some special loves who have lost their battles to
cancer. The honored Goldens include: our own Ollie &
Darcy, Blues, Georgia, Kaytee, Harley, Jake, Bullet,
Nikie, Abel, Elwood, Chip, Cooper, Meggie, Libby, Kenna,
and Devo. The music is by Livingston Taylor, a Golden
lover from way back.
Hopefully the resources below may provide guidance. However, they are merely a
guide—not a substitute for professional bereavement services. When we are no
longer able to rest our hands on soft contented faces for support, such
counselors sometimes are needed.
Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement's Chat Rooms are designed to provide a safe and supportive
haven for those who have lost a beloved animal companion. Discussions are not
ones for social chatting, as they are solely designated to cover topics related
to pet loss and bereavement. It is important to
note that while these chat rooms are caring
and highly effective discussions, they should not be confused with clinical
psychological counseling sessions. Rather, the focus is solely on pet
bereavement. Although the tone is
one of compassion and constructive supportiveness, this association cannot always
regulate the variables that may arise in such an environment. In addition, advice or
other considerations that are offered should not be construed as part of a
professional counseling session. Those who are newly bereaved and visiting
a chat room for the first time
should try to come in as early as possible. In that way, more
individual attention can be provided as chats can get crowded later on in the
sessions. To enter a chat room session, just
Wolfelt: Center of Loss and Life Transition
Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., C.T. is an internationally noted author, educator
and grief counselor. He serves as Director of the
Center for Loss and Life
Transition and is on the faculty at the University of Colorado Medical
School's Department of Family Medicine. Dr. Wolfelt writes the "Children and
Grief" column for Bereavement magazine and is the author of
When Your Pet Dies: A Guide to Mourning, Remembering and Healing.
Affirming a pet owner's struggle with grief when his or her pet dies, this
book helps mourners understand why their feelings are so strong and helps
them overcome the loss. Included are practical suggestions for mourning and
ideas for remembering and memorializing one's pet. Among the issues covered
are understanding the many emotions experienced after the death of a pet;
understanding why grief for pets is unique; pet funerals and burial or
cremation; celebrating and remembering the life of one's pet; coping with
feelings about euthanasia; helping children understand the death of their
pet; and things to keep in mind before getting another pet.
Best known for his model of "companioning" versus treating the bereaved,
Dr. Wolfelt is committed to helping people mourn well so they can live well
and love well. His 2009 book,
The Handbook for Companioning the Mourner: Eleven Essential Principles,
is partly a counseling model and partly an explanation of true
empathy, exploring the ways companionship eases grief. For caretakers
who work with grieving people or for friends and family just hoping to stay
close, 11 tenets are outlined for mourner-led care. These simple rules call
for understanding another person's pain, listening with the heart rather
than the head, not filling up every minute with words, respecting confusion
and disorder, and relying on curiosity rather than expertise. We love his
Companioning vs. Treating model below, also
available to print as a PDF:
Companioning is about honoring the spirit; it is not about focusing
on the intellect.
Companioning is about curiosity; it is not about expertise.
Companioning is about learning from others; it is not about leading.
Companioning is about walking alongside; it is not about leading.
Companioning is about being still; it is not about frantic movement
Companioning is about discovering the gifts of sacred silence; it is
not about filling every painful moment with words.
Companioning is about listening with the heart; it is not about
analyzing with the head.
Companioning is about bearing witness to the struggles of others; it
is not about directing those struggles.
Companioning is about being present to another person's pain; it is
not about taking away the pain.
Companioning is about respecting disorder and confusion; it is not
about imposing order and logic.
Companioning is about going to the wilderness of the soul with
another human being; it is not about thinking you are responsible for
finding the way out.
Dr. Wolfelt recently created a
Companioning Certification Program. This retreat is co-taught by Dr. Wolfelt (Day One Facilitator) and Coleen Ellis, Founder
Angel Memorial Center and
Two Hearts Pet Loss Center (Day Two,
Three, and Four Facilitator). This learning retreat explores a variety
of sub-topics related to pet loss, such as, the Six central needs of
mourning; Dimensions of response to pet loss; Application of
"companioning" philosophy of caregiving; Special need of children; and,
Development of pet loss support groups. Dates: 2010 February 1 - 4, 2010
February 7 - 10, 2011.
Grief: General —
These thoughtful articles provide guidance and direction for anyone
touched by grief.
Funerals, Memorials, Cremation and Related Topics
— The days following the death of a loved one can be
filled with sadness and confusion. The following articles can help
you understand the importance of the rituals surrounding death.
Helping Yourself with Grief —
Someone you love has died. You are now faced with the
difficult, but important, need to mourn. Mourning is the open
expression of your thoughts and feelings regarding the death and the
person who died. It is an essential part of healing. The following
articles provide many practical suggestions to help you move toward
healing in your unique grief journey.
For and About Grieving Children and Teenagers
— Children and teenagers have special needs following the
death of a friend or family member. The following articles provide
wonderful insight in helping children and teens understand and
express their grief.
store Remembrance and
Healing Purchases help fund Cancer Treatment Grants
for working dogs. We have included many ways to more
positively acknowledge a loss, for a cherished friend or
relative . . . or, for yourself.
You can see the wide array
Celebrating a dog's blessing in our lives is always appropriate, especially
when they have left our sides . . . as the wonder they shared with us remains in
our hearts forever.