Always in our hearts

"What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love becomes a part of us."

Helen Keller

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The loss of a beloved animal companion can be a loss as profound and as deep as the loss of a human loved one. When we grieve the loss of an other species family member we may find ourselves isolated and unsupported. Our grief is not always understood or validated by others. One of the reasons for this is that, in the main, in our culture, and indeed in many other cultures, animals of other species are considered less important than humans, and their lives less valuable. Therefore the bond we have with our animal companions may be devalued by others.

 

Grief that is not acknowledged, or perhaps even seen as shameful, is called disenfranchised grief. When grief is disenfranchised, the grief experience can be made more difficult and complicated. 

 

The term "Always in our hearts" reflects the view that we may hold our departed loved ones always in our hearts. Creating a space in our hearts and continuing a relationship with our loved ones in a new form, without their physical presence, can be healthy, comforting, and healing. 

 

"Most clinicians now recognize that... grief will always be present, that "you don't get over it" and that "time does not heal all." But the pain will lessen, and the waves of grief will come less often... the pain eventually will lose the wrenching quality it once had... Survivors need to find an appropriate place for the dead in their emotional lives, a place that will enable them to go on living in the world" (Hooyman & Kramer, 2006, p. 51).

 

Hooyman, N.R. & Kramer, B.J. (2006). Living through loss: Interventions across the life span. New York, NY: Columbia University Press.

 

"The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not "get over" the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but, you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to." Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and John Kessler

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