There is no doubt that people just love their pets to pieces – we share everything with them, include them in family holidays, and have a very special relationship with them.
Losing a pet is just as hard as losing a child; our pets are a part of the family, and we form strong bonds with them. They are involved in every single day of our busy lives, and their passing leaves us with an awful feeling emptiness – both in our heart and in our home.
When we lose a pet through old age or sickness, we are devastated and we go through the process of intense sadness, disbelief, anger that they have left us – and even feelings of frustration that we could have perhaps done more for them, or saved them somehow. The slightest mention of our pet brings us to tears again and again. We are heart-broken.
It’s hard to take in – no more rushing to greet you when you arrive home from work or waking you up in the morning because they need to go out! I would gladly get up at any time now without complaining, if only I could have my dog back.
So how do we get through this painful and heart-breaking time?
We all cope with loss differently, and on seeing my distress and heartbreak when we lost our dog Penny recently, a dear friend of mine made a brilliant and constructive suggestion to me, and I would like to share it here.
My friend suggested that one way that might help is to start a scrapbook of your pet’s life - the aim being to make the book a happy remembrance, not a sad one. In other words, a celebration of your pet’s life, remembering not with sadness, but with joy – for all the happy times you had together, and the memories you now have to fall back on. Those memories will be a lifeline for you.
The main thing you are going to need for a Scrapbook of course is photographs of your pet from when he/she first came into your life. Sorting though the photographs will be very hard at first, as memories will come flooding back of your years together.
Tears will be shed yet again and sometimes the pain might be too much for you to bear. You may feel like you just can’t do it, but try to persevere – it will get easier as the days go by, and in time, you will be able to look at a photograph of your pet with a smile instead of a tear.
Gradually, you discover that you can actually start to talk about your pet without falling to pieces in a heap of tears as you first did.
It will be good therapy, and it will be well worth it in the end.
Follow these 8 steps to create your Scrapbook.
1. Sort the photographs of your pet into date order; this will help you to chronicle your pet’s life from the first day you brought him/her home, right on through your years together.
2. Add little stories or comments to the photographs, explaining what the photo is about.
3. Pets make us laugh with their funny little antics, so pick out some humorous pictures of your pet and add a comment – this makes it more personal and meaningful.
4. Tell funny stories about your friends’ pets.
5. Add photos of your pet’s own little animal ‘friends’, with comments about them.
6. Add poems you have found about pets, some funny, some sad.
7. Include pictures of some of your own special friends with your pet and theirs; this will make it very personal indeed, and make it more interesting for anyone looking at your Scrapbook because they will feel involved.
8. Make a Friends Comments section at the end of the book (perhaps two or three pages), so that your friends can leave their own personal comments and thoughts about your pet.
They will feel involved, and it will be good therapy for you to read their comments later. You will experience warm feelings when you read what other people have to say about your beloved pet – and be prepared to be surprised by some of the comments, because your friends remember things about your pet that you might not know!
Creating a scrapbook will be the best therapy you could have for your grief; not only will it keep you busy and positive, but it will help you to keep your goal in mind . . . a special and unique book of your beloved pet’s life – one filled with wonderful memories of your years together, to treasure forever - and a book that will give you a chance to share special moments of your pet’s life with family and friends.
My own Scrapbook is now complete – it has done the rounds of family and friends to add their own comments. I can now open it without tears or a heavy heart and see my beautiful Penny, remembering the joy she brought into our lives.
And so, the healing process begins . . .