Pet Loss Support Available

A recent experience supporting a friend who has lost her small dog, a treasured soul companion who had seen her through many life crises, has served to highlight how important it is to be provided with some strategies to cope at this time.

It is now well documented that those of us who enjoy living in harmony with multi-species suffer very intensely when animal companions are dying. Many find the void almost unendurable to cope with. Unfortunately, not everyone understands the depth of grief associated with the passing of an animal companion.

If you are anticipating or coping with a significant loss in your life and wish to better understand the grief that accompanies such loss, you may need to spend some time connecting with someone who has had personal experience.

Having experienced considerable loss, I have found my own way through grief many times.  As one who’s always wanted and needed animals in my life, over the years I’ve loved, lost and mourned a number of cherished companion animals as well.

Last year I formally graduated as a Master of Social Work but over the years I have helped individuals understand and cope with their grief.  As a former volunteer at the Melbourne City Mission, I worked with carers who were mourning the loss of their partners and family. I have also supported a number of friends who have lost cherished animals. The Temple of Solace offers visitors who have signed in a safe place to express their grief.  All you need is a WordPress account.

My years of bereavement counseling have taught me that grief is indifferent to the species of the loved one who was lost. I believe that anyone who loves greatly in life and grieves deeply in loss is deserving of whatever respect, caring and support I can offer.

This site was designed to meet the needs of those who are mourning the loss of their loved ones, whether human or animal.  Whatever your particular circumstances may be, I hope that you will feel welcome and that you will find some comfort here.

If you need personal support I charge a minimal, one-off fee and I will maintain contact via email and offer creative suggestions to help ease the pain.

My Old Dog Is Dead

“And now my old dog is dead, and another I had after him, and my parents are dead, and that first world, that old house, is sold and lost, and the books I gathered there lost, or sold- but more books bought, and in another place, board by board and stone by stone, like a house, a true life built, and all because I was steadfast about one or two things: loving foxes, and poems, the blank piece of paper, and my own energy- and mostly the shimmering shoulders of the world that shrug carelessly over the fate of any individual that they may, the better, keep the Niles and Amazons flowing.”
— Mary Oliver (Blue Pastures)

Jaari and Douglas

Old dogs lie buried in the garden here, a place where, in another lifetime, my husband, children, companion animals and I once lived, where my parents once came to share our lives and bear witness.

Dougie and I grieved for each one who departed; when we sold and left the only home he had known behind.

We moved to a sheltered place and comforted one another.

Now my old dog is dead too. I know! I held him close to my heart as he died.

Dougie is gone, joining those, so many whose hands/paws we held, watched as they went.

Soon I will be leaving this place that offered safe harbor, taking his ashes to mix with the ashes of others.

I am moving to make yet another fresh start, selling more, giving away more, but, taking memories of happy family days to weave and wrap around me.

I will go to another place where I will scatter mixed ashes and, little by little, piece by piece, rebuild.

Quilting Love

before my time
before my time

You all might think I’m daft for not realising until so recently what the quilt buying was really about, but it is true, I didn’t know I was on my own ‘comfort rugging quest’.

I stumbled across a lovely old quilt on eBay while sitting up with my dog Kelly when she was so sick and in pain and I tended her throughout the nights.  The more she hurt the more I hurt, and the more I hurt the more I turned to external things for distraction from a fear of having to euthanise Kelly, a fear that was threatening to drive me right around the bend.  By the end of the three week stretch of a hellish illness with the poor creature I had developed a wicked shake in my hands that I could not still, a shake so pronounced I could barely type on my keyboard, with twitches and tics in spots on my face.  Now that’s stress.
I realised I was looking for distraction with the eBay shopping but I didn’t catch on that the contents of my mailbox and deliveries were all about comfort and a quest for a sense of histories, of the roots that would hold me in good stead during these life storms, roots I don’t have.  I have gained at least ten pounds and more quilts than I can count (because they haven’t all arrived yet).  I have no money(somewhat disturbing, but only somewhat) so all were bought on credit.  I’m not cringing about that really because I spent no money for Christmas as I have no family to spend it on and an acceptable interest pay-back rate.  I also have self-compassion and (finally) self-understanding.
The quilt pictured above was the most expensive at only $80 US.  You read that correctly!  The fellow didn’t sell me his grandmother but he might as well have for that price!  The piece is enormous, covering most of one entire living room wall, entirely handstitched with no discernable pattern and most pieces no larger than a *small* Post-It, and very, very many as small as half a pinky finger.  I keep sitting on the couch staring at it in awe and gratitude to have such a work of art in my home, for it has done something to make this house seem more like a home to me.  All the quilts seem to have that magic.
The best clue to their real meaning for meaning, their connection with my need for roots, for history, for a sense of something besides the terrible present, is that the one requirement for all the quilts I’ve sought out is that they all be antique at best, vintage at least, and hopefully made with love.  The ones called “crazy quilts” are best because they best reflect my crazy life and my episodic internal chaos while managing to be full of comfort at the same time.  I strive to be like that: able to be warm and full of comfort despite my own chaos.
Steph

Better days for a good friend

My good friend, Kelly the dog, is finally seeing better days.  With much very loud yelping and snarling on her end and heart palpatations on my end we managed to wrestle her down and get her bandage off yesterday.  She’s able to move around more freely now and even go outside again, which means there’s some tail wagging once more, but she’s making it very clear that she blames me for the entire ordeal which means there is NO tail wagging in my direction.  When I come in the house, NO tail wagging.  Anyone else…MUCH tail wagging.  If her tail is wagging for someone else then she will stop wagging her tail as soon as she sees me. 

Oh.  Hurt.  Hurt feelings.  Excuse me for having hurt feelings! *lol*  Who cried when the vet came?  Moi!  Who cried when Kelly cried?  Moi!  Who called the vet four times in the first place until he agreed to change an appointment in his full day schedule to make an emergency house call???  Moi!!!  And no wagging tail?  Crazy dog. 

Crazy owner, actually.  I just got laughed at for going to the store to buy a different jar of peanut butter because she wouldn’t eat the bargain brand stuff that I bought on sale.  I mix peanut butter on her dog food or she won’t eat it.  (uppity mutt) 

I thank you all on Kelly’s behalf for the good vibes and lovely wishes for her speedy recovery.  Animals companions are a very special gift of compassion and humour that fill our lives in ways nothing and no one else can. 

Steph

rough day for a friend

A friend who has provided me with solace when nothing and no one else could is really suffering today.  Kelly hurt her paw sometime in the night by twisting a toenail entirely around and backward.  The shock just to see the bloodied swollen paw this morning and the look in her eyes can’t be a fraction of the discomfort she felt yet she didn’t make a sound.  Just laid there with her head down.  Poor babe.  The vet just left and she’s well sedated but still crying a little.  Send some good vibes out for a sweet soul, will you?  She’s been an angel of mercy for me and deserves much in return.

Kelly
Kelly

 Steph

Ash is Resting Now

Ash is now resting at Wartook, in the Grampians, in Western Victoria. I took him with me because I was working in that region and he deteriorated dramatically overnight. A humane vet euthanased him in the back of my car and the people on the property where I was staying buried him in a grave, under a pine tree, facing Mt Difficult.

I seem destined to keep looking in to the void. I know there is something within it but I am having a bit of trouble discerning what it is. Ash did trust me and you are right, I did not let him down. The vet injected him in the back of the car so he was in his own cocoon, his weary head dropped and he went to sleep. Facing Mount Difficult is full of meaning for both of us.

For years I had this numinous dream, which involved climbing and traversing something like Mt Difficult. I would come to a plateau, only to discover that I had to go on, that there was another peak to master. Having Ash succumb to throat cancer, watching him waste and decline in such a similar way to Darryl was particularly tough. The parallels wereextraordinary.

So now there is this emptiness again. Adoring eyes are gone. Ash was legendary when it came to watching over and guarding me. He did what so many could not do. He sat with me during tough times. What sort of universe removes him in this way? How is someone supposed to findmeaning in an action like this?

Yet, within the darkness there has been a glimmer of light. Being here, at Wartook, meant that I had very real support and was able to bury him in a particularly lovely place. He has not gone in to some landfill and I am not left with the ashes of Ash. I have some of Darryl’s ashes at home. I think maybe the children can scatter me with him here. It has all been just so difficult.

Death Star Warning

A beautiful pinwheel in space might one day blast Earth with death rays.

Unlike the moon-sized Death Star from Star Wars, which has to get close to a planet to blast it, this blazing spiral has the potential to burn worlds from thousands of light-years away.

“I used to appreciate this spiral just for its beautiful form, but now I can’t help a twinge of feeling that it is uncannily like looking down a rifle barrel,” said researcher Peter Tuthill, an astronomer at the University of Sydney.

ash.jpg

Today I am reeling. The humane veterinarian who came to our home today has diagnosed our Lab Retriever with throat cancer.

Vada, my son’s Staffordshire was run over by a truck, in a freak accident, in front of me in August 2006. Monty, my dear old man Cavalier died from cancer in November 2006. My husband Darryl lost his battle with cancer on January 19th 2007.

Ash came to us from a shelter in April 2007. For about four months he has been trying to tell everyone that he is not well. We listened and heard but back in January the local veterinarian, after doing extensive blood tests, implied that we were just imagining things. The small lump that they detected then is now the size of an orange and more tumors have filled his throat. All we can do is palliate with cortisone.

Some would tell me that Ash came to sponge up all the remnants of the disease that lingered in the energy fields here, to act as a kind of protector. Well, if that is the case I may as well put up a sign on the front door saying ‘In Path of Death Star – Enter at Your Own Risk’. I will not accept that Ash is some kind of human sacrifice, given to protect those who love his gentle, loving soul.

But there is no doubt that the Death Star has had us in its gaze for a little too long. Of course, there is always a positive about living in the path of a Death Star. You learn to live and value all life. In this death denying society, where some veterinarians prey on human emotions and subject animals to a barrage of chemotherapy and other painful treatments, it is a tonic to meet someone who is not in to death denial, who will not try to tell you that if you stay positive and consume kilos of broccoli seeds you will live forever. We all live in the gaze of the dreaded death star. Facing death, accepting that all living organisms have a finite time, has forced me to live, love and make considered choices.

We are going the My Best Friend path and while I am very unhappy I feel like a safety net has just been put around me, that forces stronger than any horrid death star are being gathered to make sure that, whatever time Ash has left, is filled with love.