A lot! Two live sessions. Four weekly video modules to watch at your leisure (or, if you prefer, audio to listen to while on the go). An exclusive Tranquility Salon workbook PDF to help guide you through the course. Guided meditations. Email encouragement. An optional accountability buddy. A private Facebook group. A French playlist. A TranquiliT discount code. The Year of Tranquility PDF. A discount on a new Tranquility du Jour online offering releasing in 2020. The Tranquility du Jour Daybook PDF. Oh, and lifetime access!
Last night I facilitated a Pet Loss Support Group at Dupont Veterinary Clinic and wanted to share some of the material with you. Although I offered to host it two months ago, I felt nervous as the date approached. Would I do a good job? Would I hold it together considering I’m still mourning the loss of Louis four years later? Would the participants get what they needed? Would my veterinary social work training be enough material?
Arriving 20 minutes early, I settled into the room to review my notes, take deep breaths, and set a clock within view to monitor the group’s pace.
Once the participants arrived, I welcomed them, shared the agenda, set group guidelines, and gave a brief introduction into the challenge of pet loss. Namely, it’s often labeled “disenfranchised grief” as it’s minimized/not openly acknowledged by society, not publicly mourned or socially supported, and there’s no recognized way of grieving.
Also, I highlighted that the loss of a pet is so intense because they’re part of our socialization: daily schedules, cognitive stimulation, exercise, physical security, sense of purpose, identity, serve as reminders of previous relationships/identities, and come with no baggage (you know, we’re not still holding on to what they said when we were six).
Then the group introduced themselves and shared their stories. Afterwards we honed in on a few themes that tend to arise–guilt, feeling irritable, upset at those close to them who don’t get it or grieve differently, feeling tired, unable to focus at work, to get a new pet or not.
Next, I shared an assortment of coping strategies to help keep their continuing bond (find a way to stay connected): Write a letter. Tell a story. Write favorite memories. Create a scrapbook or online photo album. Draw a picture. Display their favorite toys, collars, or clips of hair or braided tails. Create a memory box or memory garden (tree or flowers). Donate some of pet’s items or $ to a shelter in pet’s memory. Hold a memorial service. Clay print their paws. And more!
Whew, heavy stuff. After our goodbyes, I walked home with a full heart and gratitude. Grateful for hearing their stories. Grateful for the love our furry beings give us and allow us to offer. Grateful that they found the experience helpful. Grateful for the opportunity to facilitate this work. And grateful for my three rescue pugs (and one rescue kitty) who give me so much.
If you or someone you know is dealing with the loss of a pet, here are some additional resources:
The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and they day you find out why. —Mark Twain
On Sunday I turned 46 and, in between migraines, basked in the generous receipt of well wishes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
This year’s birthday came at the perfect time—after June’s numerous in-person and online events and before Italy retreat time. Most of the week’s meals included vegan strawberry cupcakes and cake (how-to here). On Friday, I sipped tea with a friend and hosted the Tranquility du Jour Daybook Virtual Launch Fête. Saturday I took my first beginner ballet 2 class and indulged in brunch at Ladurée with a girlfriend. On my birthday, I took a yoga class at Tranquil Space/YogaWorks, nursed two migraines, and savored dinner at DC’s go-to fancy vegan spot, Fancy Radish.
Birthdays beckon reflection. Since mine falls mid-year, it serves as a useful tune up. What’s working? What needs attention? What experiences have I had since my 2018 birthday? What experiences do I hope to have by my 2020 birthday?
When I reviewed my 2019 wishes, I noted half of my intentions had manifested. A few included: Year of Tranquility conversion into a book, three healthy pugs and kitty, finish Journal Therapy certificate, thriving private practice, and meaningful retreats.
Here’s a sampling of uncompleted ones: published articles (never submitted), thriving garden (not enough sun for veggies, focusing on flowers), finish veterinary social work program (pushed back completion to early 2020 to align with their scheduled summit), and 25% less stuff (need to schedule more declutter days).
While it’s easy to get frustrated on what didn’t happen, I find it more useful to note what isn’t on the list and did happen such as TDJ Soiree, a mini ballet performance, and the new Daybook. Reviewing the 2019 wishes serves as a reminder to submit articles, declutter, and nurture what is feasible in my garden.
It’s also a good reminder of progress, not perfection. Over the course of a year, our priorities shift and, similar to a snake shedding its skin, we, too, must release what we outgrow to make space for what’s to come.
During Summer TDJ Live, we contemplated our summer wish list, how our word/theme of the year had unfolded, and what we wanted the rest of the year to look and feel like. To me, this is an ongoing process—seasonal, monthly, weekly, daily.
In the words of Mary Oliver, “Listen—are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” I believe that reflection followed by action helps ensure we’re doing so much more.
Although I may not yet know my full why (see above quote), these moments of reflection help get me that much closer to clarity. And birthdays help! Bisous. x