Pushing the Clouds Away A Pet Loss Journal

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2022 • 28 Pages • 2.6 MB • English
Posted July 01, 2022 • Submitted by Superman

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AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 1 “The sun always shines above the clouds.” — Paul F. Davis Pushing the Clouds Away A Pet Loss Journal PET LOSS HEALING GUIDES AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 2 Sources Research Links Cancer with Repressed, Unresolved Feelings and Emotions http://www.examiner.com/article/research-links-cancer-with-repressed-unresolved-feelings-and-emotions 5 Powerful Reasons to Make Reflection a Daily Habit and How to Do It http://zenhabits.net/5-powerful-reasons-to-make-reflection-a-daily-habit-and-how-to-do-it/ What is Resiliency? http://www.embracethefuture.org.au/resiliency/index.htm?http://www.embracethefuture.org.au/resiliency/what_is_resiliency.htm Readers Respond: Share Strategies For Staying Emotionally Resilient In The Face Of Stress http://stress.about.com/u/ua/readerresponses/resilient.htm Miscellaneous Quote Sources: http://www.quotestree.com/emily-bronte-quotes.html http://thinkexist.com/quotes/with/keyword/confront/ http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/resilience.html http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/reflection http://www.finestquotes.com/select_quote-category-Memories-page-0.htm AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 3 In Loving Remembrance of Who Joined my Family on And Passed Away on in (Attach photo of pet here) Forever in My Heart AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 4 “Life is a moving picture and nothing stays the same for long. It is a matter of riding out the bad times and looking towards the better ones, all the while waking up each morning giving thanks for the good and choosing to be happy despite whatever grief, sadness, or stress is there.” Pip M, About.com Guest AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 5 Pushing the Clouds Away ...........................6 You’re Not Alone.......................................... 6 The First Step.........................................7 Suppressing Your Emotions.............................. 8 On Managing Your Emotions............................. 9 On Reflection.............................................10 A Moment of Shared Insight............................11 Shared Insight............................................12 Reflecting on Your Loss ........................... 13 Grief and Resiliency.....................................15 Rediscover Your Own Strength .................. 16 Your Special Memory ....................................17 Redefining Yourself ................................ 18 Choose to Move Forward with Love...................18 Doctors and Researchers Agree........................19 Rediscovering Life’s Meaning and Value..............20 My Support System ......................................21 Celebrating the Times We Shared .............. 22 My Pet’s Memorial .......................................23 Recognizing Your Growing Sense of Ease...... 25 Who I Am Today: My Record of Redefining.... 26 Notes ................................................. 27 Table of Contents AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 6 Pushing the Clouds Away Today is a very important day. Recently you’ve experienced the loss of a beloved animal companion. And today is the day that you’ve decided to come to terms with the experience and begin to work through the grief you currently feel. A day you’ve set aside to begin the work of “pushing the clouds away”. We are so sorry for your loss. Believe us when we say, we know, from personal experience how much the death of a pet can really hurt. The hurt doesn’t go away overnight but it will lessen over time. If you allow yourself to sit with the sorrow and make friends with it, you will find emotional balance again. You are sure to feel the warm rays of the sun on your face and shoulders once again. You’re Not Alone We’re walking this path together, step-by-step, through the Pushing the Clouds Away pet loss grief support email series, which is the companion to this Journal. Have you subscribed? It’s free and your personal details will never be shared, rented or sold. You will never receive promotional messages from us; our only goal is to support you during this difficult time. So, if you have yet to subscribe, please visit the website where you downloaded this journal and register your email address. Each of the 15 days following your registration, you’ll receive a supportive message with tasks or activities, offers of comfort, and some food for thought. You have the opportunity to record the responses to the inquiries and activities in this journal. Shall we get started? “GRIEF SHARED IS GRIEF DIMINISHED.” RABBI GROLLMAN AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 7 How are You Feeling Right Now? r alone r upset r tense r guilty r crushed r tearful r weak r heartbroken r incapable r miserable r powerless r empty r anxious r lonely r r r r How is Your Body? r weary r jumpy r headachy r hungry r muscle tension r nauseous r stomach upset r heavy r shaky r pained r no appetite r difficult to breathe r dry mouth r insomnia r r r r The First Step Acknowledge how you’re really feeling, right at this moment. Choose 5 words to describe the ways your heart, mind, and body are reacting to the loss of your pet. Exactly how is your body feeling? If the words are not listed, then add them in the spaces provided. AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 8 Suppressing Your Emotions When we have an experience that we find painful or difficult — such as the death of a pet — and are either unable to cope with the pain or just afraid of it, we often dismiss this emotion. Instead, we choose to get busy: exercise more, drink or eat a bit more, or just simply pretend it has not happened. When we do this, we do not feel the emotion and these feelings just sit in our muscles, ligaments, and digestive system. They remain buried within us until we have the courage to bring that emotion up and experience it fully, thus releasing it. The following are a few examples of the methods people use to avoid feeling their emotions: • Ignoring feelings • Pretending something hasn’t happened • Overeating • Eating foods loaded with sugar and fat • Excessive drinking of alcohol • Excessive use of recreational drugs • Using prescription drugs such as tranquilizers or Prozac • Exercising compulsively • Any type of compulsive behavior • Always keeping busy • Constant intellectualizing and analyzing • Excessive reading or television viewing • Working excessively • Keeping conversations superficial Remember, emotions have a direct effect on how our bodies work. And long-suppressed — or buried — emotions are those that normally cause physical illness. They damage the chemical systems, the immune system, the endocrine system and every other system in your body. Our immune systems weaken and many serious illnesses set in. Not only that, research has shown that suppressing or avoiding your emotions in fact can make them stronger. Right now, if you want to avoid feeling the sadness of losing your animal companion, you may choose to watch happy movies and may even talk to your family and friends as if nothing happened. But, you can bet the sadness is still present in your mind, and a small event in the day may cause you to overreact to the situation. Even if the object of your emotions is different, this is your body’s way of releasing the pent-up emotions. Just as emotion suppression is your body’s way of protecting you during a trauma, emotion release in a non-traumatic situation is your body’s way of protecting itself from further damage. Effects of consistent emotion suppression include physical stress on your body, high blood pressure, and incidents of diabetes and heart disease. In addition, people who regularly engage in emotion suppression are more likely to experience stiff joints, bone weakness and other illnesses due to lowered immunity. What’s the lesson in all this? Feel the feelings; weep openly and often if that’s what your body is calling for you to do. Don’t seek constant distraction. Instead, reflect on your recent experience — fitting it into place within the story of your life. “In a study conducted at the University of Colorado in the US, researchers found that people who repressed their emotions after a traumatic event had lowered immune systems compared to those who shared their feelings. Our work suggests that emotional disclosure may influence immune responsiveness as well as having general health benefits.” University of Auckland, Medical & Health Sciences “People who have repressive styles tend to be more prone to illness, particularly [immune-system related] diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, infections, and cancers.” Dr. George Solomon, University of California Los Angeles What’s the lesson in all this? Feel the feelings; weep openly and often if that’s what your body is calling for you to do. Don’t seek constant distraction. Instead, reflect on your recent experience — fitting it into place within the story of your life. AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 9 On Managing Your Emotions Every day it happens. You experience emotions. And today, those emotions may be overwhelming since after all, you’ve recently lost one of your dearest friends. How do you deal with the anger, the loneliness, the frustration — not to mention the deeply-felt sadness? The first step in managing your emotions is to recognize that you are experiencing one — that’s the reason for the previous exercise. For true well-being, you simply have to be self-aware but unfortunately, most people aren’t. They act out of habit. Someone experiences an emotion and there is an automatic response, a responsive habit cultivated over the years without even being consciously aware. That habit may be doing you harm — causing untold stress and even conflict with others. So, what’s the next step, after self-awareness? After recognizing and naming the emotions you’re feeling — now or at any time in the future — pause before you respond. Your emotions are inner messages, bringing your attention to something of significance. You really do have free choice in responding to the situation. However, remember this…you cannot think and feel at the same time. If you are upset or emotional — as you were (and perhaps still are) on the day you said farewell to your pet — you cannot think clearly. Take a time-out from decision-making to fully experience the emotion. If the opposite is true (if you can think clearly) then handle the situation and process the emotion later. The overriding guideline is to never repress your emotions. Experience them and then move forward into action. You really can become more skilled at handling emotions. By learning this process of acknowledgment and self-mastery which allows you to fully experience your emotions, you can then recognize what they are trying to teach you. “A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don’t know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox’s or bear’s, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.” Meister Eckhart, Writer and Theologian When you can be calm in the midst of chaos, life is naturally easier, and more enjoyable. You are better able to weather the difficulties which life is sure to bring and develop resiliency along the way. There’s an added benefit: the more you practice, the more comfortable you become not only with our own emotions, but those of others as well. AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 10 On Reflection On New Year’s Eve in 2009, Leo Baubata published a blog post on the website, Zen Habits. Unfortunately burdened with a cumbersome title, ‘5 Powerful Reasons to Make Reflection a Daily Habit, and How to Do It’, the post remains as powerful today. Leo recommends (as do we) that you develop the daily habit of reflection. “It could,” he tells readers, “have profound changes on your life.” Here are some of his reasons why: 1. It helps you learn. “If we don’t reflect on our mistakes”, he wrote, “we are doomed to repeat them. And that’s not very smart.” 2. It helps you help others. What you’ve experienced, and what you learn about yourself, and life in general, can be valuable information to those around you (many of whom you have yet to meet.) 3. It makes you happier. “If you reflect on the things you did right,” shares Leo, “that allows you to celebrate every little success. It allows you to realize how much you’ve done right, the good things you’ve done in your life. Without reflection, it’s too easy to forget these things, and focus instead on our failures” and, I might add, our sorrows. 4. It gives you perspective. “Often we are caught up in the troubles or busy-ness of our daily lives,” notes Leo. “But if we take a minute to step back…it can calm us down and lower our stress levels. We gain perspective, and that’s a good thing.” We love Leo’s suggestion for cultivating the habit of reflection: start a one sentence journal. “I picked up this trick from my friend Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project,” he shared. “Basically, it’s the easy way to start the journaling habit. If you’ve tried and failed at journaling in the past, try the one-sentence journal. It’s a habit that you’ll love, especially when you look back on a year’s worth of entries.” He also recommends that you sit in reflection at the same time every day. (Just before turning out the light at night or first thing in the morning are preferred times for reflection for many but 5 or 10 minutes spent at any time of the day is just fine.) “Reflection must be reserved for solitary hours; whenever she was alone, she gave way to it as the greatest relief; and not a day went by without a solitary walk, in which she might indulge in all the delight of unpleasant recollections.” Jane Austen AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 11 A Moment of Shared Insight One of the things we love most about the Internet is the access it gives people like us to the great minds, witty words, and powerful insights of those who lived before us. Whatever you’re experiencing, you can surely find a quotation or casual remark — from the world’s well-known writers, actors, poets and politicians — which comforts you, makes you laugh, or deepens your awareness of your current journey of loss. Maybe it’s something as simple as this: “My philosophy when it came to pets was much like that of having children: You got what you got, and you loved them unconditionally regardless of whatever their personalities or flaws turned out to be.” Gwen Cooper, Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat We’d like you to visit the Grief & Healing section of our website, where you’ll find an archive of quotations about pets: how we love them, the dynamics of our relationships, and the many gifts they bring to us. Select the one which means the most to you right now, noting the quotation, and then the reason why you chose it. My Favorite Quotation Here’s What it Means to Me AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 12 Shared Insight We never want to ask you to do something that we’ve not done. So, in case you want to know which quotation we like the most, here it is: “Sometimes losing a pet is more painful than losing a human because in the case of the pet, you were not pretending to love it.” Amy Sedaris, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People Much like the earlier example, we think this quote reflects total honesty. While there have been people in our lives who we have not truly cared for — or enjoyed the company of — there has never been an animal companion in our lives that we didn’t freely give our love. Maybe you have a second quotation you really appreciate? We do, and here it is: “No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish – consciously or unconsciously – that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.” Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog All we need to do in order to know his words are true is to look into the eyes of our family’s beloved animal companions. Does his elegant comment about the magic of a relationship with “a good dog” resonate with you, too? AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 13 Reflecting on Your Loss You’ve inventoried your emotions and have learned that to have a deeper understanding of exactly what you’re feeling, you must cultivate a greater sense of self-awareness to really get in touch with what’s going on inside your heart. Now we’re going to look at what’s going on inside your mind, in reaction to what you’re experiencing in the wider world. We’d like you to write down your thoughtful answers to the following questions about your recent loss. The thing that makes me feel the saddest is… If I could talk to my pet I would ask… Since the death, my family doesn’t… My worst memory is… If I could change things I would… One thing that I liked to do with the pet that died was… When my pet died I… AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 14 Since the death my friends… After the death, work/school… When I am alone… “Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves.” Carol Lynn Pearson, American Writer and Poet What you’ve just done is profound: you’ve confronted the truth of life as it is for you right now, after having to let go of your animal companion. You’ve sat down and really thought about, reflected on, the experience. How brave is that? You are a hero, in every sense of the word! AN UNFORGETTABLE FRIEND 15 Grief and Resiliency Right now you know exactly what grief is; after all, you’re experiencing it firsthand. But, are you familiar with “resiliency” — the long-term capacity of, in this case a person, to deal with change and continue to develop. In short, it’s the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds — trauma, tragedy, personal crises (such as the death of your pet) — and bounce back stronger, wiser, and more personally powerful. The Resiliency Resource Center in Australia offers these definitions of this important attribute, as it has been defined by researchers in the field: • ‘Remaining competent despite exposure to misfortune or stressful events’ • ‘A capacity which allows a person ... to prevent, minimize or overcome the damaging effects of adversity’ • ‘The capacity some children have to adapt successfully despite exposure to severe stressors’ • ‘The human capacity to face, overcome, and even be strengthened by the adversities of life’ • ‘The process of, capacity for, or outcome of successful adaptation despite challenging or threatening circumstances’ Now, here’s something to consider. Could this current time of grieving be nature’s way of making you more resilient? Could this be another life-changing, personality-shaping moment in your life — with untold value to you? What’s our answer to this question? “Yes.” “Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before.” Elizabeth Edwards 1. Build Positive Beliefs in Your Abilities Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. This will lead to you becoming more confident about your own ability to respond and deal with crises such as this one, and is a great way to build resilience for the future. 2. Find a Sense of Purpose in Your Life This might involve becoming involved in your community, cultivating your spirituality, or participating in activities that are meaningful to you. For example, many bereaved pet parents become very active in fundraising for the local — as well as the national — American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (A.S.P.C.A.). It makes them feel good — and feeling good (especially right now) would be an unexpected pleasure, wouldn’t it? 3. Call on Your Social Network While simply talking about a situation with a friend or loved one will not make troubles go away, it allows you to share your feelings, gain support, receive positive feedback, and come up with possible solutions to your problems. 4. Embrace Change Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. While some people may be crushed by abrupt changes, highly resilient individuals are able to adapt and thrive. 5. Be Optimistic Staying optimistic during dark periods can be difficult, but maintaining a hopeful outlook is an important part of resiliency. Positive thinking does not mean ignoring the situation; it means understanding that setbacks come and go and that you have the skills and abilities to combat today’s challenges, growing stronger every day. What you are dealing with may be difficult, but it is important to remain hopeful and positive about a brighter future. 6. Nurture Yourself When you’re stressed, it can be all too easy to neglect your own needs. Make time for activities that you enjoy. By taking care of your own needs, you can boost your overall health and resilience and be fully ready to face life’s challenges. Isn’t life a remarkable journey? As we sit and reflect on our lives, we see there were some times that were dark as can be. Yet, they passed, as the clouds drifting in the blue sky outside our window. Now the sun shines just a bit brighter, because of the resilience we gained from living through those difficulties. In this challenging time of loss, you can find solace in knowing your animal companion — that gentle creature you loved so dearly (and will always love) — continues to serve you as a teacher and ally during this transforming time. Your pet wants you to believe in your ability to not only survive, but come to a place of thriving. He or she asks that you:

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