It’s natural to assume that the grief associated with pet loss is a purely post-mortem event. Not true. For many, the grieving process begins the minute they receive a serious or scary diagnosis, even if the animal has the potential to live for another year or two. This is why I established and continue to facilitate a Client Support Group within my community. Not only are people who have lost their pets welcome, so too are those struggling emotionally while caring for a sick four-legged family member. The way participants support one another is fabulous- there’s typically a healthy mixture of smiles and tears as they talk about their beloved animals.
From time to time, someone recounts an event (I like to refer to them as little taps on the shoulder) that let them know that they’ve been “paid a visit” by their deceased pet. Last week Stephanie told just such a story. A few weeks after relocating from Seattle to northern California, her beloved Bear, a huge and gentle Labrador mix, became profoundly ill with symptoms referable to cancer within the pelvic canal. With a heavy heart, Stephanie opted for euthanasia after which she fled back to Seattle to receive the emotional support she needed from family and friends. Upon returning to her new California home a week later, a delightful surprise awaited her. Right at the spot where Bear urinated first thing every morning appeared a two-foot tall, solitary, pink flower on a thick sturdy stalk- one we affectionately refer to in these parts as a “Naked Lady” (Amaryllis belladonna). With a smile on her face and tears streaming down her cheeks, Stephanie described her encounter with this crazy looking pink plant, the likes of which she’d never seen before. She knew, in her heart of hearts, that it was a sign from her beloved Bear that he was okay. And I believe her!
Have you ever been “paid a visit” or received a “gentle nudge” from a beloved pet that has passed away? Please, do tell.
Now, here’s wishing you and your four-legged best friend abundant good health!
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.