Healing the pain of pet loss: letters in memoriam

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Charles Press, Feb 13, 1998 - Family & Relationships - 190 pages
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While as a society, we clearly recognize and try to validate the grief that is felt when 7 loved person dies, many of us do not feel the same way about grieving over the loss of an animal friend. When a person dies, we approach the bereaved with ultimate delicacy and care. We send condolence cards, we attend the funeral and we try to show our compassion and understanding: "I'm so sorry. We will do all that we can to help and support you". When a pet dies, however, a person's grief is too often met by dismissal and even ridicule: "Oh come on, I know it's sad, but he was only a dog" and "It's not the end of the world! You can always get another cat".

Devastated by the loss of her cat and deeply disturbed by the callous way people reacted to her grief Kymberly Smith thought she might be able to find some advice in books that would help her cope with her loss. To her surprise and frustration, none of the books helped her at all. They were mostly written by psychologists and were too "clinical" in their approach. They described stages of loss and different forms of grief, but this is not the kind of information that really helps a person heal -- it certainly didn't help her.

That's when Kymberly realized that a different kind of book on healing from the pain of pet loss was sorely needed, one that teed the ideas and solutions, not of detached "experts", but of people who had themselves lost a beloved animal companion -- "real people" who could give honest advice and practical guidance on how to cope with this loss. To do this, Kymberly issued a nationwide request for personal stories of losing a pet. When she read through the hundreds of letters she received, she immediately realizedthat the letters had the most unusual and remarkable healing powers. Reading them comforted her and gave her the kind of understanding and support that only people who have actually "been there" can give, She also realized that the insight the letter writers provided into dealing with the pain of losing a pet was far greater than anything she could say herself. So she decided to publish the best of the letters in a book as close to the original as possible. The letters are written by many different kinds of people of all ages, who discuss a wide variety of grief reactions and coping methods.

While there is no easy way to cope with severe loss, one surprisingly simple method that has helped millions is talking to and listening to others who have gone though's similar experience -- the people-helping-people dynamic known as self-help. In the same way, Healing the Pain of Per Loss is a self-help group in a book. By reading other people's stories of loss, readers will be able to learn how others felt and reacted to losing a pet and how they solved their problems and coped -- or didn't. By having the companionship of the letter writers, readers will also feel that they are not alone in their grief experiences and that they are not abnormal or simply overreacting (something many of the letter writers reported feeling).

The book also features an Appendix that looks at the fascinating spiritual aspects of pet loss and also gives the first annotated listing of the best Internet resources for pet loss, useful books, hotline numbers and organizations that can help.

This special book will be a very comforting resource for ever who has love and lost a pet. It will also be of tremendous use topeople who interact with those who have lost a pet, including veterinarians, counselors, teachers and parents.

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We Were a Perfect Family
We Had a Bond
Mom Gussie Died

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About the author (1998)

MICHAEL B. SMITH, PhD, is Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Connecticut at Storrs. His research interests focus on developing asymmetric reactions based on manipulating chiral, nonracemic lactams. This work is applied to the development of new synthetic methods and the synthesis of polycyclic alkaloids with antitumor or antiviral activity. Dr. Smith was responsible for developing a new reagent for determining the enantiomeric composition of alcohols and amines bearing a chiral center.