Mourning – the public showing of grief. Grief gone public. What people see when a bereaved is crying, is angry or yelling; a physical showing of hurt in a variety of other ways with the loss of a precious love. Many times physical demonstrations of emotions that the majority of our society is uncomfortable seeing.
Mourning is an essential part of a healthy grief journey. “He who mourns, mends.” In fact, the journey should be called a “mourning journey” more closely describing the activity needed to reconcile the loss, the grief, fully into a person’s life.
In reality, active mourning for some is one of the hardest things to do, for a variety of reasons. Many people feel weak for showing their emotions and would rather cover them up to appear strong. Some people were raised in an environment of “big boys don’t cry” or with a “buck up philosophy.” Others may feel like they will be shamed if they show their grief, in particular with the death of a beloved pet. Therefore, it’s easier to hold the grief in and to not have to possibly endure the hurtful comments from people, such as “just get another cat” or “why are you crying, it was just a dog.”
Active mourning is doing the necessary rituals and activities to take the grief, the loss, public. While some people may be uncomfortable to be around those that are grieving, this “mourning journey” is fully and completely about the person that’s grieving. In providing support for the bereaved heart, a grieving heart might need permission to take this mourning journey and to do those activities necessary to mend their grief.
What does active mourning look like? This will vary as everyone’s needs and ways to handle loss are unique to that individual. But whatever those unique active mourning processes are, the bottom line is, do something! Take time to include mourning in your daily activities. Here are some ideas to help with active mourning:
Light a candle in honor of the pet. This can be done daily and can then be accompanied by some quiet time to pay reflect on the life that was shared.
Start a journal to chronicle the life of the pet and to daily record your thoughts and feelings.
Write a letter to the pet or about the pet. Let them know what you appreciated about them and what you will miss. Also use this process to ask for the pet’s forgiveness if you feel it’s necessary.
Have a memorial service.
Plant a tree or flower in honor of the pet, taking time daily to sit by the tree or flower and remember the pet.
Take a daily walk, using that time to remember the pet and the lessons that were learned from the pet’s life.
Attend a pet loss support group to be with others who, too, are mourning the loss of a beloved pet.
Create a video that fully depicts the pet and their personality. Take the time in creating the video to search for those lessons that the pet taught.
Coleen Ellis lost her “baby girl” in 2003, and she was devastated. No one understood how she could be so upset over losing “just a dog,” and she could never really say goodbye to her terrier-schnauzer mix, Mico.
To help pet parents everywhere, she opened the first standalone pet funeral home in the United States in Indianapolis. In this guidebook, she helps pet parents, veterinarians, death-care professionals and others celebrate the special bonds we share with our animal companions.
Drawing upon her experiences helping thousands of pet parents and pet care professionals, Ellis provides:
ideas to help celebrate the special bonds people share with their pets;
checklists to choose the right cremation provider or funeral home;
heartwarming stories that show how pets can be honored in life and in death;
information on how death-care professionals, veterinarians and others are taking steps to serve pet parents;
additional resources to help people remember their pets the way they want.
People everywhere want to honor the lives of their pets, and even if you aren’t a pet owner, you need to understand why this is important. Help yourself and those you care about with Pet Parents: A Journey Through Unconditional Love and Grief.
The Pet Loss Center has put together an active mourning journal to help guide you through your grief journey. The journal is filled with a year’s worth of weekly activities and several helpful articles to assist you during this difficult time. Email us HERE for your complimentary journal.
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