The entire team at Loyal Companions Pet Cremation & Memorial is pleased to provide you with an online newsletter, which we update on a regular basis with interesting, educational articles to help you and your family in your time of need.

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Current Newsletter Topics

Coping with Guilt After a Pet's Death

Being your pet's primary caretaker, death can often be accompanied by feelings of intense guilt. You may feel like you could have or should have done more, acted sooner and so on. This is a completely natural and normal reaction. Placing the blame on yourself is often easier to do than accept the reality of the situation - that each life will end in one way or another. When a pet is lost through an unfortunate accident, sudden illness or planned euthanasia, however, these feelings can be intensified.

Guilt is a major hindrance to healing and the feelings surrounding it must be worked through. Healthy guilt affords you the chance to make amends, forgive yourself and do things differently in the future. Unhealthy guilt will keep you locked in a state of emotional turmoil, shame, unworthiness and self-punishment.

Cause and Effect

As a human, it's natural to assume a cause and effect for everything. When a pet dies or falls ill, you will ask, "Why?" Questions will bridge out from there and when no rational answer can be found, you may let the blame fall back on yourself. Guilt is an emotion, but it's also a belief or conviction. Although its onset can't be controlled, how you react to it can be. It is important to realize that you cannot control life's "random hazards of existence" nor the instances that lead up to them.

Relieving Feelings of Guilt

• Don't Rehearse It – If you keep running over the same guilt-driven thoughts in your mind, stop. Catch yourself in the act, setup a mental roadblock and change course. Instead, focus on something else – something positive.

• Accept What Can't Be Changed – Many seem to think self-punishment is necessary and will somehow serve as a tribute to their deceased pet. If there are positive steps you can take (such as vaccinating your surviving pets or scheduling a veterinary visit), than take them. If there aren't, accept it, forgive yourself and focus on your future actions instead.

• Focus on Your Intent – Purposefully remind yourself of the times you were an outstanding pet parent. You would never have done anything to purposefully harm your pet. Accidents happen, but some stem from our desire to provide a better quality of life for our pets. If you had always kept your pet completely out of harm's way, how happy would he or she have been?

• Share Your Feelings with Your Pet – If your pet is ill, share your thoughts out loud. If you pet has passed, consider writing a letter. This may help you realize that your pet wouldn't want you to be sad or feeling guilty forever. Getting your feelings out may help release some of your pain.

Supporting a Loved One in Grief

It isn't uncommon for a pet to share a particularly strong bond with one member of the family. Maybe your husband or wife was closer than you to a pet who has passed and is therefore grieving in a much different way. Or, maybe you've never had a pet before, but someone near and dear is coping with the loss of one of their own. To help your loved one cope, offer a nonjudgmental listening ear.

Helping Your Loved One Heal

Supporting a friend, spouse, or relative as they grieve the loss of a pet is as easy as sharing physical space and listening. You don't need to have the right words or clichés to share, some of these may even be hurtful. Listening without judgement or advice and talking about the deceased pet will help your loved one feel better.

As everyone grieves differently, some may want more space and time alone than others. Respect your loved one's wishes and be attentive to their unspoken needs. You may consider helping out around the house or doing the things your friend just doesn't feel up to. Never push the person into getting a new pet. That decision is a personal one to make and shouldn't be made while in an emotional state. A pet is a commitment. If and when your loved one wants another pet, he or she will make that decision.

Continued Support

Being there for your loved one immediately following the loss of a pet is important, but this is a time when an outpouring of love and support may occur. Checking in with the person days, weeks or months down the road when the bereaved may feel like everyone has since forgotten and moved on is especially important.

Signs You're Healing After Pet Loss

Recovering from the loss of a cherished animal companion takes time. As you move through the stages of grief you'll encounter emotions based on denial, anger, bargaining and depression. The last stage, that of acceptance, is where you will begin to truly heal.

The following are all indicators that you are beginning to show signs of healing:
• You begin to reminisce about your pet's life more than dwell on his/her death
• You don't intentionally try to avoid everyday reminders of your pet
• You are able to think more freely of the "good times"
• You aren't as emotionally distraught when thinking of your pet's death
• You have more control over your emotions
• You are acting more like yourself again – eating, sleeping, hobbies, etc.
• You are able to enjoy yourself without feeling guilty
• You no longer feel guilty for not dwelling on the death
• You don't feel like you're betraying your pet by regaining normalcy
• You are able to talk about your pet without feeling intense sadness or crying
• You are focusing more on the present and future instead of on the past

It is important to note that if a loss occurs suddenly or unexpectedly, such as from an accident, you may deny yourself the opportunity to reach a place of acceptance. Coping with grief is an entirely personal journey that can't always be outlined in fluid stages. You should, however, consider seeking professional help if you are experiencing symptoms of clinical depression and/or it has been more than two months since the death of your pet and you are still experiencing feelings of intense grief.

Ways to Memorialize Your Pet

Following the loss of a pet, you may want a unique and special memento by which you'll always be reminded of him or her. Now more than ever, there are a bounty of memorialization options - from the standard grave marker to the extreme of having your pet's ashes launched into space or transformed into a sparkling diamond.

The following are all ways to preserve your cherished companion's legacy:

• Hold a funeral or memorial service
• Write a song, poem, or farewell letter
• Paint or draw pictures
• Make lists of things you'll miss & things you loved about your pet
• Create a photo album or scrapbook
• Compile photos/video clips into a digital scrapbook or movie
• Keep a locket of your pet's fur/hair
• Plant a tree or flower in remembrance
• Create a personalized headstone, memorial, or stepping stone
• Buy a flower that blooms at a significant time of the year
• Burn a special candle when thinking about your pet
• Create a special box for photos and memories
• Keep your pet's collar tags on a key-chain or necklace
• Write letters or send cards to your pet's veterinarian, groomer, pet sitter, etc.
• Write and publish a book about your pet's life
• Make a donation to a shelter or rescue in your pet's name
• Commission a professional portrait or stuffed-animal version of your pet
• Transform some of your pet's ashes into a diamond or other jewelry or art
• Have some of your pet's ashes pressed into a vinyl record or mixed into tattoo ink
• Turn your pet's ashes into fireworks or bullets (hunting dogs)
• Send some of your pet's ashes on a journey to space
• Commission a taxidermist or have your pet freeze-dried
• Have him or her cloned