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Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet [Kindle Edition]

Gary Kowalski
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From the moment pets come into our lives, we know the day will arrive when we have to say farewell. Still, we are never emotionally prepared for the last adieu.  In Goodbye, Friend, Gary Kowalski takes you on a journey of healing, offering warmth and sound advice on how to cope with the death of your pet. Filled with heartwarming stories and practical guidance on such matters as taking care of yourself while mourning, creating rituals to honor your pet's memory, and talking to children about death, Goodbye, Friend is a beautiful and comforting book for anyone grieving the loss of a beloved animal.

Editorial Reviews


After Gary Kowalski, author and the minister of Burlington Vermont's Unitarian Universalist church, completed his new book, Goodbye, Friend, on dealing with losing your pet, his own elderly dog, Chinook, died. In his first book, The Souls of Animals, Kowalski wrote: "My own wise friend is my dog. He has deep knowledge to impart." Apparently, Chinook did his good work up until the end. Kowalski's new book is full of sound, compassionate advice to get you through the loss of your pet(s). Included are ideas for rituals and ceremonies, spiritual guidance and readings and poems to use for solace. The author's voice is a soothing one, not surprising for a minister whose job it is to be wise and reflective. The book also addresses animals' grieving; their life spans; their growth, illnesses and needs. These are similar to ours: need to eat, to exercise, to sleep, to have fun, to enjoy companionship and to expect routine. Kowalski includes advice on how to take care of yourself after the death of a pet and the importance of honesty when talking with children about this event. Kowalski's book is not only useful for healing when a good friend dies, but also reasserts his primary message: that animals are important, that "pets are not petty," that they deserve our respect and our kind care. As Kowalski writes, "Animals enrich our lives in countless ways, with their playfulness, their tranquility [sic], their constancy, and their love..." This book will help readers mourn and remember them well. -- From Independent Publisher

From the Author

The bond we share with animals is especially pure: one hundred percent love, undiluted and unadulerated.  Because the relationship is so direct and powerful, the grief we experience when our pets die can be profound and intense.

As a parish minister, I often counsel those seeking comfort in time of loss.  And as an animal lover myself (having accompanied two fine dogs to the end of the trail and helped my children struggle with the loss of an assortment of parakeets, rodents, and goldfish) I know the emotional roller-coaster firsthand.
There are no timetables for healing.  There are no easy repairs for an aching heart.  While I can't offer any way around the pain, I can share what's helped me and assisted others in finding peace, for you are not alone on this journey. Through the centuries, people of varied faiths (as well as poets, physicians, veterinarians and philosophers) have accumulated insights that help us face death with hope and wisdom, with gratitude for the years we share, with trust in the mystery that is at once beyond our ken and present in every living creature. 

Product Details

  • File Size: 1733 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Publisher: New World Library; 1 edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #482,809 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
99 of 99 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HEALING WORDS AND HOPE IN MY TIME OF SORROW December 28, 2001
I was desperately searching for some comfort after the loss of my beloved dog, when my daughter found this book for me. This book was such help and comfort and made me feel better after reading it. Of course, I cried a lot during my reading of the book but it is very healing. I was very impressed that the author knows the heartache that many people experience in losing their pet that he took a six-month sabbatical leave to write this book in order to help people deal with their loss. I am truly grateful to him for doing this.
Please read this book if you are suffering from the loss of your pet. This book can help bring you comfort.
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121 of 123 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I highly recommend it. June 19, 1998
By A Customer
I read this book a few months ago after I had to put my pal Puddin Head to sleep after 11 wonderful years. This book gave me the most comfort and relief of the four I read. In fact, the reason I am here is to order another copy for my best friend who is facing this ordeal today.
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111 of 115 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gives Hope, Understanding and Peace.... January 10, 2002
After losing my beloved cat "Red" to cancer, I began searching for something about the death of animals and where they may go. It was a hard search...something people do not talk about these days. I found Goodbye Friend and it helped relieve the sorrow and pain of losing Red. It also helps to understand that what you are going through is normal. Also that you are not crazy because you grieve for your "family member" (e.i. pet) like a human. It helps to understand that everyone has their own process to get through their own loss. The poems and little stories were nice to reflect upon. This book barely touches on animal afterlife...but is a very good book with good information, reflective thoughts and validates your emotions and what you are experiencing. Another good book which has short stories of afterlife happenings of pets is "The Soul of Your Pet". ---- Bless all who have loved and lost a special animal companion for your lives are the richer!
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97 of 100 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not recommended for sudden death of a young animal October 20, 2007
By requin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a short book which I read almost in one sitting. It is beautifully written, and I cried a lot while reading it. (In fact, the title, "Goodbye, Friend" made me cry just about every time I saw it). But the chapters are too short. The inevitability of death and how it integrates into nature's (and God's) plan is mentioned often.

My beloved cat and best friend was only 5 years old when she was tragically killed by a car a few weeks ago. This book mainly focusses on comforting those who's animal has lived a long full life and has now passed on. There are only a few pages devoted to sudden, accidental death of a young animal who should have lived much longer. I needed more comfort than this book could give, for this case. It is a lovely book, but it did not help much in my situation.

Recommended as a short, comforting read for those who's animal has aged and died (or had to be euthanized), but not recommended for someone in the shock and extreme grief of suddenly losing their animal in the prime and vitality of it's life.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely comforting March 11, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After 2 painful weeks as our beloved 18 year old cat declined rapidly, we made the decision to end his suffering this morning. This book not only helped us make that difficult decision, but provided comfort and strength to us thoughout the ordeal. Perhaps most important is the author's validation of our feelings and acknowledgement that our animals are very important parts of our lives. I'd recommend this book to anyone, and I am on line now to buy two more copies as gifts- one for the wonderful vet who came to our home this morning and helped our friend to a gentle, peaceful passing.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful! July 24, 2000
I recently lost my beloved Big Boy, Major. I purchased several books to help ease the pain and provide insight into understanding my feelings and how to cope with them. This book was by far the best. It is extremely well thought out and addresses the loss of a pet from a number of angles. The quotes and poems were a very nice touch.
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful Book April 26, 2005
I recently lost my cat of 16 years to cancer. And we lost his brother last year to another type of cancer. It was extremely hard. I bought a few books to get me through this hard time. I found this book very comforting during this grief period. Saying goodbye to both of my cats was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. But after reading this book, it gave me a spirtual, comforting, uplifting feeling.

It will take awhile to get over my babies, but in the meantime, I have plenty of wonderful memories to remember them by and to help me get through.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In his new book, GOODBYE, FRIEND, Gary Kowalski writes about the connection people feel for their animal companions and the depth of the loss often experienced when these friends die. His voice is authoritative, spiritual, and calming. Like his 1991 book, THE SOULS OF ANIMALS, this book celebrates our profound and humbling kinship with our fellow creatures.
The book covers subjects like talking to children about death, the healing power of nature and creating ceremonies to honor a dead pet. The author, who was facing the prospect of losing his own dog, Chinook, when he wrote this book, shares some beautiful reflections on birth and death and the continuum of life. His love for his own dog, his wisdom about animals, and his gentle, reflective spirit have combined to create a poignant and wonderful book
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Compassionate Counsel, Well Written and Very Helpful
I bought a copy of 'Goodbye Friend' when our 10 year old chocolate lab, Luna, became sick and it was clear that she would not live much longer. Read more
Published 5 days ago by Green Mountain Lawyer
5.0 out of 5 stars A comfort at a time of loss
This book has been a comfort to us, and to friends we've given it to who have lost their companions.
Published 6 days ago by Charles Talbert
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Help in a Hard Time
Gary Kowalski's book anchored me when my heart was aching with the death of our beloved Wicki, a Boston Terrier who'd been part of our lives for nearly many years.. Read more
Published 7 days ago by Maureen
5.0 out of 5 stars appropriate companion for grieving
I read this book after my precious Yorke died. It made me cry and helped me heal. I have been recommending it as a wonderfully appropriate companion volume for grieving ever... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Ann Marie
5.0 out of 5 stars Have you lost a beloved pet? This book will really help.
This book has helped me and our family as well as dozens of friends over the years. Losing a pet - part of the family - is never easy but this book helped so much. Read more
Published 7 days ago by M. Kowalski
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read, very helpful if you are losing or have just lost a pet.
Published 7 days ago by Apollocat216
1.0 out of 5 stars Dont buy
I didn't care for the book. Wasn't sensitive enough. Made me angrier instead of find peace.
Published 27 days ago by N
4.0 out of 5 stars it helped
Recommend this as a help in the acceptance of the loss of a pet. Grief is still fresh with me....
Published 1 month ago by Jescharhey
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent book, would recommend to anyone grieving over the loss of their fur-children!!
Published 1 month ago by Maria V. Perdue
5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Purchase
A very nice resource priced very reasonably.
Published 1 month ago by Alan C. Kubik
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More About the Author

Reverend Gary Kowalski is the author of bestselling books on animals, nature, history and spirituality. A graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Divinity School, his work has been translated into German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese and Czech, appeared in periodicals like Tikkun and Yoga Journal, and been voted a "Reader's Favorite" by the Quality Paperback Book Club.

Whether investigating the emotional lives of other species, de-mystifying the faith of America's Founding Fathers, unpacking the Bible or pondering the frontiers of modern physics, Gary's work centers on the connection of spirit and nature ... acknowledging our kinship with each other and with a universe that is passionate, evolving and alive.

To contact Reverend Kowalski, visit his website at

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