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Surviving the Pain of Pet Loss

Niki Behrikis Shanahan


When my husband and I lost our beloved cat, Pete, we were devastated!  He was so wonderful and such a joy to be with!  We often called him ďThe Baby.Ē  We adopted Pete when he was 8 years old and when he passed away he was 21.  In his later years he developed renal failure and ultimately passed away from a heart attack.  My mother, knowing how much Pete means to us, came over to our house immediately to comfort us.  Itís very painful, there are many tears, and over two years have passed and I still miss him so very much.  I think of him every day. 

Michael is a Massachusetts state trooper.  His partner, Granite, a 2 Ĺ year old black Labrador, was struck and killed by a car at the start of the Boston Marathon.  Granite had bolted from Michaelís car before he could leash the K-9.  Michael was so distraught at the scene that his wife drove there immediately to console him.  Michael said, ďI donít think there are any words that can explain the loss.  Some people say itís your partner, but partners go home at the end of your shift, and donít come home and sleep on your pillow, on your bed or at your feet.Ē

How do we bear it?  How do we cope?  This is the time that most of us turn to our faith in God to bring us through.  We look to our Creator for strength, comfort and a greater hope for a future life in heaven.  The good news is that He doesnít let us down!  When we look in the Bible we see that God has made provision for our eternal life.  And, if we look at the scriptures closely, weíll see that it includes all the animals!  So we should focus on the happiness that the future holds for us when we are reunited in heaven.

There are scriptures revealing that all the animals go to heaven, such as Psalms 36:6 which says that God preserves man and animals.  None of us are preserved in this life so itís easy to see that this refers to an afterlife in heaven.  You can pray and ask God to give you peace and to soften your grief.  Donít dwell on the painful memories.  Instead, picture your beloved pet in heaven running around, playing, and having a wonderful time.  Channel your thoughts to a beautiful vision of your baby running in fields of flowers and having fun with all the other animals in paradise. 

A good way to overcome your pain is to help another pet.  There are so many beautiful animal companions just waiting for a wonderful parent like you and a happy home!  The shelters are filled with them.  You can save a life and they can help you through your grief.  Animal companions bring so much joy and happiness that itís often hard to decide whose helping whom the most.  Theyíll help to distract you from your loss.  The day after Pete passed away my husband and I were both in the dining room crying and trying to console each other.  Suddenly I looked out the window and there was Joey, the stray cat that we had been feeding.  He was running down the steep driveway across the street, and he was headed right for our yard!  It broke the heart wrenching moment, and turned our attention to someone who needed us.  I immediately went out to see him and gave him something to eat.  Shortly thereafter we adopted him and now heís part of our family!

You may find that certain projects will help in your healing process.  A very helpful and constructive task is to sign petitions that endorse proper treatment of animals.  There are many shelters that could use your help in ways such as donating time, money, items or you can sponsor a pet.  Some people like to make a memorial web page for their beloved animal companion.  My own healing process began when I started to research what the Bible had to say about animals going to heaven.  That's what prompted me to write There Is Eternal Life For Animals so that I could share my findings with people who want to see Biblical proof that all animals go to heaven.

There are also many resources on the internet for pet loss.  One is Moira Allenís website www.pet-loss.net which includes a state-by-state directory of support groups, counselors and pet cemeteries.  Another site is www.in-memory-of-pets.com, which has tributes, poems and other resources. 

To survive the heartbreak of your loss, trust in God for help, take charge of your thoughts and focus them on positive things, and help a lost and lonely pet thatís waiting for you today!


The handsome cat in the above photo is Pete Shanahan, who went to heaven on December 15, 2001.  Photo taken by Niki Behrikis Shanahan.


Niki Behrikis Shanahan is the author of ďThere Is Eternal Life For Animals,Ē "The Rainbow Bridge: Pet Loss Is Heaven's Gain, and Animal Prayer Guide.  Pete Publishing, www.eternalanimals.com.  Available at amazon.com.  Article copyright 2004 Niki Behrikis Shanahan.   All rights reserved.  Not to be used without author's explicit written authorization.  To reprint this article, please contact the author at eternalanimals@comcast.net.


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