Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Photo courtesy Google Images (The Grief Recovery Kit)
Life can be a series of losses. It seems to be one takeaway after another. After the first few heart-wrenching losses, you think you would get used to it – you might simply expect it – looking upward for the other shoe to drop. Which is probably why I eat fast, I want to devour quickly before the food suddenly evaporates off my plate. The truth is losses are difficult.

There are so many kinds of losses. One’s body experiences losses. The smooth plump skin of childhood succumbs to the ravages of growing up, such as scars, hormones or aging. The joints, muscles, bones, and connective tissue start to deteriorate and fail us. Some people may have a really good run at it and for some deterioration begins rather quickly. The sponge-like brain of our youth, adept at gathering information, starts to sputter a bit as we age. We file information in places we cannot readily access in our cerebrum. There are moments – ever increasing – of answers lurking somewhere on the tip of the tongue but for all our sputtering, they do not come forth.

There are losses of people. They come into our lives and enjoy the love or whatever it is they need, and then become enthralled with something else, some other glittery object of desire, and leave a cloud of dust behind in their haste and a few pebbles in your eye, along with unanswered questions. Children grow up and leave home – needing to learn about their personal life path. Some people that you have loved walk away and leave easily – as if you never made an impression in their heart. Or perhaps you made a good impression but are simply no longer needed. Some humans die and you can never get them back. It is awfully hard to understand the comings and goings of humans. I, too, have had to leave people and places behind and not always for some glittery thing but because of changes, other obligations, new goals, or extenuating circumstances.

Powder (May 8, 2005 to February 22, 2012)
There are losses of pets - animals that have graced our lives and love us unconditionally. Last week I lost a dear friend.  I keep looking for him around every corner and my ears seek hearing his loud meow. Powder was a cat, a little lion, a funny, smart, demanding friend, and an alarm clock of incredible accuracy. He was a loving, noisy, bossy animal of such enormous character; it feels like empty air without him around. His life was snuffed out a bit too soon. I sit with this grief and give it a wide berth, allowing it to travel in and out of my consciousness.

This grieving process is an introspective time for me and a good book feels like the right activity now. Below are some notable books/stories surrounding the subject of animals and pets that are no longer with us.  The first list is compiled of books published recently in the new millennium, and the following list is devoted to well-loved and cherished animal books from the previous century.  Many of the books are wildly popular and have made the transition from printed words into cinematography and have found a new life in film.

Great Books for Coping with the Loss of a Beloved Pet - published in the new millennium (click on the title for a link to Amazon to read the reviews)

Animals and the Afterlife: True Stories of Our Best Friends' Journey Beyond Death by Kim Sheridan. Hay House, 2006.

Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of Your Pet by Moira Anderson Allen. Dog Ear Publishing, 2007.

Cherished: 21 Writers on Animals They Have Loved and Lost. Edited by Barbara Abercrombie. New World Library, 2011.

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron. Grand Central Publishing, 2008.

The Legacy of Beezer and Boomer: Lessons on Living and Dying from My Canine Brothers by Doug Koktavy. B Brothers Press, 2010.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. Ballantine Books, 2002.

The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation by Elizabeth Letts. Ballantine Books, 2011. Print.

Water for Elephants: A Novel by Sara Gruen. Algonquin Books, 2007. Print.

Beloved Animal Books - from the previous century/s

  • All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot (1972) Also: All Things Bright and Beautiful (1973) All Things Wise and Wonderful (1976) by James Herriot
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell (1877)
  • Born Free by Joy Adamson (1960)
  • Lad: A Dog by Albert Payson Terhune (1919)
  • Old Yeller by Fred Gipson (1956)
  • Sounder by William H. Armstrong (1972)
  • The Black Stallion by Walter Farley (1941)
  • The Call of the Wild by Jack London (1903)
  • The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1938)
  • Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls (1961)


  1. I really miss the Powdie boy. If he had only zigged instead of zagged. RIP, Powder.