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The Loss of a Pet: A Guide to Coping with the Grieving Process When a Pet Dies Paperback – March 18, 2014
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About the Author
WALLACE SIFE, Ph.D. is a psychologist and internationally renowned authority on pet bereavement, and a pioneer in this field. The first edition of this celebrated classic won the prestigious Maxwell Award for the best nonfiction pet book of 1993. Dr. Sife founded and is the CEO of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB), a nonprofit organization that offers a broad spectrum of help to grieving pet owners (www.aplb.org). He also is renowned for his special seminars to train counselors in this field.
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I bought this book at the suggestion of a good friend who was trying to ease my pain. I just wanted some comfort and reassurance, but I didn't really get it until near the end. As an otherwise stable person who did not need so much analysis as to the fact my feelings were normal, I found myself wishing it would focus more on a regular everyday person's emotion, as in how to deal with their loss effectively and without so much psychobabble.
That said, there was comfort to be found, and I did find the author's empathy for all living beings a saving grace in what might seem an otherwise detached writing style. A lot of how to deal with my (so far) two day grief of having to euthanize my 8yr old dog was common sense, I already knew it; I've been there before, but what I did appreciate was the chapter on euthanasia. My puppy was already dying, so I had no choice, but it did help me come to terms with the process and some doubts I may have had about keeping him around too long after the initial signs - when I thought there was still hope as he was young and is it came from nowhere very suddenly and rapidly.
Also, most unexpectedly, because I still feel the need to care for a pet means I will probably will get another one soon, and so, after reading a chapter about that, I no longer feel the guilt I did this morning when looking through adoption sites. Not to replace my puppy, by ANY means; I never could, or would; I already planned to get another when he was older, as the book also suggests eases the pain when the older one finally dies, but I didn't get that opportunity. The fact, that it is, apparently, healthy for some people who know why they need a wee one in their life, like I do, to think about bringing in another one so soon was most unexpected and did indeed appease the guilt I was feeling about just that. It is exactly what I did when my last dog died, bringing him in at nine weeks old, almost immediately, and I now no longer feel any guilt about doing that then either.
Also, I did like the sentiment about afterlife of otherwise loyal and loving beings; that appealed to me greatly.
Overall, I don't know if taking a day off work and reading a book–any book–was simply the therapy I needed to snap out of my misery a little–if so, then reading this one at least accomplished that.
Update: I joined the authors chat room for pet loss and bereavement which is on Fridays. My experience with him was not what I would expect in a grief support group. I didn't feel compassion from him at all. Where I was that day in my grief was dismissed as too negative for the group. Grief in my past experience is not linear. I would recommend joining his chat room on Friday, 8-10PM before investing in buying and reading his book.