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  • Julie Kuhn

5 Ways To Channel Your Grief Following the Loss of your Pet Companion

When you lose your pet companion it’s important to recognise that this is a unique type of suffering. Grieving for the loss of a pet can be an emotional upheaval and sometimes more significant than the loss of a human relative or friend.

I have drawn on my own experiences, that of my training and those of my clients to create a short list of some of the ways in which you might channel your grief.

1. CREATE A MEMORIAL Following the initial loss you might create a memorial. As with human loss grieving for your animal companion is important and a memorial is similar to that of a funeral in that it gives you access to your grief. Although this is a difficult stage of your grief it is worth taking some time to think about how you might go about your memorial, where it might be and what you might include. For instance, you might want to create a space in your own garden or perhaps choose a specific Memorial garden. You might include a plaque, plant a tree, have a piece of stone or slate engraved as a marker or perhaps paint some words on some pebbles or shells and lay them at the memorial site. 2. USE IMAGERY TECHNIQUES SUCH AS CREATING A COLLAGE A collage can be both a lovely keepsake which you might want to have framed as well as giving you an opportunity to access your grief. You might want to include photographs according to activities you shared or perhaps those of people involved or maybe places you visited. Include whatever is meaningful for you.

When grieving it can be a good idea to experience both negative and positive feelings and emotions related to your pet companion and by exploring your pictures and memories it gives you the opportunity to do this. When I created my own collage, as a child, I found it difficult to sit with my emotions for long amounts of time and so it became a work in progress on my bedroom wall. I created a green background to represent all the times we spent at the park and then I added photographs, cut out pictures of flowers that had made his nose twitch and also of his favourite food.

Your relationship with your pet companion is unique to you just as your grief is. 3. READ BOOKS AND POEMS Reading books written by those who have coped with the loss of their pet companion can help you to feel normal and give you the opportunity to understand the process of grieving and what you might be going through. Books can also help with practical suggestions, provide resources, help to provide compassion and sometimes to help you cope as well as provide you with reassurance that you are not alone. They can help you to explore a range of feelings and emotions and can be used as a tool for opening up conversations with others.

Poems can be used in the same way - you might even write your own. 4. CREATE A SAFE AND COMFORTING SPACE Creating a safe and comforting space can be done either physically or through imagery. You might create a room in your home where you can retreat to such as your bedroom. It can be a place where you can be who you want to be, feel what you want to feel and in particular a place where you can restore and nourish yourself.

That space might be virtual. You might create a picture in your mind of somewhere that feels calm and peaceful such as a walled garden with flowers and trees, a hammock and running water. You can see yourself climb into your hammock and then lay looking up through the trees to the sky, listening to the birds, the rustle of the leaves and flowers and the running water as you gently rock. 5. GROUND YOURSELF If you are feeling overwhelmed with your feelings, thoughts, emotions and difficult memories take some time to try ground yourself by focusing your attention on what is happening around you. Breathing in to the count of four then breathing out to the count of seven. Focus on what you can see around you, notice what you can hear both up close and in the distance, what you can smell and what you might possibly be able to touch such as your clothing or skin and maybe you have a taste in your mouth. You might use positive self talk such as “I am safe and this

will pass” or “I am okay right here, right now.” Whilst acknowledging your grief it is also important to remember your own self-care and to be able to share your pain and suffering as much as possible with others.

The thought that I will leave you with is... we don’t necessarily get over the loss of our beloved pet companions rather that life grows around it. Don’t struggle alone

You can make an appointment with me to help you with your loss by calling 07478754839

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