Archive for August, 2011
Grief is the normal and healthy emotional response to loss. It occurs regardless of whether death is the result of a sudden accident or a prolonged illness. Grief can be associated with many different kinds of loss. According to John W. James and Russell Friedman, grief recovery experts and authors of THE GRIEF RECOVERY HANDBOOK, ‘Grief incorporates the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior and is represented by many different kinds of loss. For example, we may grieve the loss of a beloved human family member, friend, or colleague. We may also grieve the loss of a beloved and admired public figure. We may also grieve the losses resulting from the death of a spouse, or divorce or separation. The loss of a pet, marriage, graduation, retirement, empty nest, graduating form high school or college, moving, major health changes, financial changes (positive or negative), holidays, the end of addiction, loss of trust or faith in people or God, loss of safety, loss of control of one’s body may also result in our experiencing grief.’
Although grief is the normal and natural, way of responding to loss it is at the same time, one of the most powerful emotions and one of the most neglected and misunderstood experiences. Generally, although on a certain level we come to expect grief and loss as inevitable aspects of life experience, we know little about and are ill-prepared to deal with (let alone) recover from grief
The subject of grief is often painful, difficult, uncomfortable and unpalatable, and w e often find it difficult to discuss – regardless of the nature of our loss but especially if we are grieving the loss of a beloved animal companion. . People who do not know, communicate with and love animals are not able to understand or empathize with the loss of a pet which is a beloved family member for so many of us, Unless they have experienced the loss of a beloved pet, they seem unresponsive to the deep and profound feelings associated with our loss – the void and emptiness, the sadness and depression, the loneliness and despair we feel at the loss of our beloved family member – one so trusting, vulnerable, pure -of heart – one who loves us unconditionally and is loyal and devoted to us – one who is our true loyal and sacred friend, companion and confidant. Perhaps the one who know our hearts and souls better than anyone else.
We are desperately in need of education about grief – the nature of the experience and how to cope with and recover from it. There are many tools that can be helpful to us on our road to understanding loss and grief, as both are inevitable facets of our life experience. First and foremost, it is imperative to identify and recognize that we are grieving and that this grief is normal. Secondly, it is important to express our feelings verbally and in writing Sharing our genuine emotions with sympathetic and empathetic people are important steps to help you on your road to recovery. The process of recovery requires that we deal with loss directly and acquiring skills that we should have learned as children. You are the only person that can transmute pain into creative hurt. Grief can be transformational and help us grow in wisdom and compassion. It also affords us the opportunity to grow and evolve spiritually .It is truly a journey and leads us from one stage of our lives to the next…
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Sedonia “Dony” Kennicoot Fairweather
December 25, 1998 – July 5, 2011
My beautiful White German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute mix, Sedonia Kennicoot Fairweather, or “Dony” as we called her died on July 5 at the age of twelve and a half.
She was born of Kianna Fairweather, one of the most beautiful and remarkable dogs I have ever known. Dony was the only one of nine puppies born on Christmas Day night in 1998 who survived. Three days after her birth, our beloved Caesar died of bone cancer- osteosarcoma.
Dony was pure white and so very, very tiny at birth. We did not know if she would survive, and if she did, if she would be disabled or ill. Kianna had advanced heartworm disease. She had many infirmities and had also been shot and almost paralyzed by a dart gun shot by an Animal Control officer. She was emaciated and dehydrated – and throughout all of her surgeries and vaccinations – all while she had been pregnant – unbeknownst to any of the vets that had treated her.
Dony was Kianna’s pride and joy. I have never seen a more maternal, caring and loving mother than Kianna. She socialized her beautifully- the two were virtually inseparable. Kianna taught Dony how to hunt and fish, and the two were always chasing and catching all kinds of critters. They had a special fondness for the mallards that swam in our pond.
Dony was born in our study and slept with Norman and me – on the bed with her mother and us or on the floor with her mother. She was very quiet and gentle and was, at the age of three, certified as a Therapy dog. She was beloved by many people in assisted living centers, nursing homes and hospitals. She was a great healing, calming and comforting presence to so many.
When we adopted Nenani, an Alaskan Malmute mix, she, he and Kianna were a family within our family. They played together, ate and slept together, and, of course, hunted and chased animals together. Even when Kianna died, Dony seemed to understandthe concept of death in a way that is indescribable – as though it were inevitable and a part of life experience. She and Nenani became closer than ever.
During recent months, Donny seemed disoriented and confused periodically – very unlike her. She was so very clever, resourceful, alert and intelligent. She was also having difficulty getting up and walking.
It was obvious that she was suffering. She was incontinent for the fist time in her entire life. It was obvious that she did not know what was happening. She was suddenly paralyzed, and her exquisite, alert and shining brown eyes were now dull and listless.
It was tine to put an end to her suffering. I knew that she was ready to go. And so, we had her euthanized in our bedroom. Nenani and the other dogs were with her, and I wept and held her close to me, placing my head upon hers. I told her how deeply I loved her and would miss her. But I knew that she would be joyously reunited with her mama, Caesar, Katie, Spencer, Two Socks, Chloe and the other dogs with whom she had lived. I I knew Auntie Betty & Uncle Chris would be warmly welcoming her to the Rainbow Bridge. I thanked Dony for all that she had given to enrich my life. I thanked God for the privilege and blessing of knowing my beloved Dony.
I am profoundly missing the best Christmas present I ever received – my beloved Dony. She will always live on in my heart and soul…