Local Pet Grief Support by Kathy Valentine
djusting to the loss of a pet can be difficult, with friends and fam- ily not always adequate in sup- porting this painful journey. Resources in the San Diego area include support groups where people can meet with oth- ers experiencing similar feelings. “The therapeutic value of sharing the loss of a pet with another who’s been through the same experience is very healing,” states Mick Palermo, general manager of the San Diego Pet Memorial Park. This facility offers a “Life Celebra- tion” class to its clients on a monthly basis, with an outside facilitator who invites them to share details about their pets and how the loss has affected them. Participants are asked to come with photos of their pets to the San Diego Humane Society, where pet loss support groups are facilitated by a licensed clinical social worker and offered in both North County and San Diego. There is no fee, but donations are accepted. Children
10 and over are allowed, and these ses- sions are also open to those facing the impending loss of a pet. Reservations are suggested but not required; various sessions meet at night or on weekends. More information, including helpful books and other resources, is included on their website. Many pet parents choose to com-
memorate a pet’s life, whether by a photo album, special family tribute or charitable donation to an animal organization. All of these can have healing properties, while Palermo’s advice is central to this theme: “Reflect on the good times, not when they were sick or hurting.” In doing so, pet lovers can gently heal their bruised hearts, while cherishing the memories of their animal companions.
For more information on San Diego Memorial Park visit SanDi- egoPetMemorialPark.com
or call 858-909-0009.
For more information on the San Diego Humane Society visit SDHumane.org
or call 619-299-7012, x2311.
the grandchildren sang What’s New, Pussycat?” Children can choose photos, favorite toys or treats for a tribute table. A me- morial service can also accompany a cremation.
Formal or Relaxed Setting Full honors were given to Bo—a cross-trained narcotics/pa- trol dog with the Indianapolis Police Department, killed in the line of duty—including an honor guard, floral arrange- ments and a eulogy by K-9 Commander Lt. Benny Diggs. The local chief of police and sheriff spoke of Bo’s responsi- bilities and contributions to the community. Stories of Bo’s family life with Scott Johnson, his K-9 handler, rounded out the ceremony. “It wasn’t just the handlers that came—about 100 of- ficers and 50 people from the community also attended,” reports Diggs. “While losing a K-9 [team member] is not the same as losing a human officer, it still has an impact on the whole department. We’ve spent time training, living with and counting on these dogs. They deserve a service.”
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A golden retriever named Mike had a more casual send-
off. A pet portrait and family photos set next to his urn and a bowl of his favorite treats inspired friends and family to share their favorite Mike stories.
Remembrances and Keepsakes A plaster cast of a pet’s paw print or a clipping of fur for a scrapbook or locket can also keep memories close. Have a guest book for those that come to the service to sign, and also take photos of the tribute table. Hosting a funeral or memorial service for a pet may
not be for everyone, but they are becoming increasingly available for those who choose to say goodbye to a beloved companion animal, surrounded by friends and family. They are an outward sign of respect; both for your feelings and the life your four-legged friend lived. Who doesn’t deserve that?
Sandra Murphy is a freelance writer at StLouisFreelance Writer@mindspring.com
natural awakenings pet Winter 2012 17
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