Me and Pink, the 3 legged dog, who taught me the 7 Steps that changed my life.

“They lived and laughed and loved and left.” When I read this quote on the front of a sympathy greeting card, I thought, “That sums it up!” It's perfect.

Then I opened the card and read the inside "And the world will never be the same. Deepest sympathy.”  My heart broke. 

It's so true. Recently, within 9 months of each other, both of my service dogs crossed Rainbow Bridge. My world will never, ever be the same. 

Loss is a universal experience. Even animals experience it. You can’t avoid it, control it, or escape it. You most certainly can’t stuff it.  Believe me, I tried. 

Me and Toaster, my doggie soul-mate, who took ME  by the leash down a path of transformation.

When I got to that point I could no longer deny the inevitable, my grief was NON-STUFFABLE! I thought if I could just change my mindset, I could stuff it, even if I hadn’t released the grief. But that is the hitch. You can’t really be released from grief until you get through it. Every darn bit!

There are actually many types of grief responses. A very common one is known as anticipatory grief, which I experienced over a long period of time. This is when there is time to "anticipate" losing your loved one, as opposed to a sudden loss. When I entered the very confusing realm of facing the unsettling truth that my service dogs would either pass or need to be "lifted up," I entered this territory of anticipatory grief.  This type of grief is very draining and painful and can seem to go on forever. It can bring you to a point you never imagined you could feel: fantasizing about the relief you will feel when your loved one finally leaves.

Yet, we know, at the same time, the heartbreaking feeling of anticipated loss as we are facing it, knowing that our world will never, ever be the same creates what is called a state of cognitive dissonance, which leads to anxiety and depression. As defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary, this it is a state of psychological conflict resulting from incongruous beliefs and attitudes held simultaneously. So important is this experience to resolve as part of making the decision to "lift up" your pet, I will write another entire article on how to resolve cognitive dissonance through the 7 Steps of Hope and Healing in my next newsletter.

"Lifting up" my dogs is one of the most difficult and heartbreaking journeys I have traversed in my lifetime. It is a grueling, gut-wrenching decision to make and I was totally unprepared for it. I feared I would make the wrong decision, choose the wrong timing (one of the questions I grappled with the most). I even questioned whether I had the moral right to make this decision for my dogs.

That is why I am writing a book, in the series of 7 Steps of Hope and Healing, about the journey we embark on to make the difficult decision to let go of a beloved pet, and healing the grief that follows. There is very little support and guidance out there to help us traverse this often heartbreaking process, nor to heal the grief that is inevitable. Although every situation is different, I’ve found that applying my 7 Steps of Hope and Healing helps me tremendously, and I believe will help fill in this gap in the area of euthanasia and related grief work.

If you can relate to this journey, I would be very grateful to hear about your experiences, for sharing stories is part of healing grief. Especially helpful would also be your input on what could help others, in your hindsight and foresight, and any requests of what you would like to see in a book on this subject. 

So enter the CONTEST for birthing this book! Click here

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