Tuesday, January 11, 2011

8 Ideas for Linking Objects and Why They Help

     When you lose a companion animal, the loss you feel is very deep and very real.  You may be surprised by the depth of your feelings and unsure what to do.  Many well-intentioned people will tell you to clean house of anything that reminds you of your pet or immediately go out and get a replacement animal.

     However, the only way to to get past the pain is to fully and honestly grieve the loss of your friend.  It is hard work and doesn't happen overnight.  It's OK to feel sad, it's OK to cry, and it's OK to want to have something to hold on to.

      A linking object is something that reminds you of your pet. 
It can be something they loved - like a toy, bed or collar; a clipping of fur, a whisker or some of the animals ashes; a memento that symbolizes them, such as a piece of jewelry, a paw print, or a plant; a piece of art by you or someone else, like a photograph, painting, or sculpture.

     Taking comfort in a linking object is normal and healthy.  Grief research tells us that having linking object can help in your grief process.  Rest assured:

It is not morbid to keep something that reminds you of your beloved animal.

     It can be hard to know what you will want after your animal passes, so we suggest that you:
  • do not throw anything away for at least a week after your companion passes.  Regretting that you discarded something can be very hard and there may be no way to replace the item.  
  • take a clipping of your animal's fur before he or she passes and keep it in a special spot.  You may or may not want it in the future, but it is better to have and not need than the other way around.
  • make a paw print of your animal before he or she passes.  Many craft shops have kits for doing this.  Look for something that is non-toxic and safe for children.  

     There are many wonderful linking objects and some terrific companies that specialize in mementos.  Here are some ideas and suggestions:

  1. Keep your dog's tags and put them on a key chain.
  2. Make a scrap book or photo album, using photographs, stories, poems, and mementos.  Many companies offer envelope pages so you can put fur, tags, collars and other items in the book (be sure the pages and pockets are acid free and archival quality to avoid deterioration).
  3. Decorate a candle with pictures of your animal.  You may wish to burn it daily or at some other interval and think about your pet while it is lit.
  4. Get a locket and place your animals photograph and lock of fur inside.
  5. Paint or draw a picture or make a sculpture of or about your pet.  You do not need to be an artist to do this and the artwork need not resemble your pet in any way.  Give yourself permission to express yourself and be abstract if you like, to avoid pressure of "making it perfect". 
  6. Plant something - indoors or out.  You may wish to make a memory garden, a place where you can go to think about and be with your animals in body or spirit.  You may wish to plant special flowers or plants that remind you for your companion.  You may wish to bury his or her body or ashes there.  If you don't have a garden, you may wish to get a pet-safe house plant.  You can put some of your animals ashes in the pot (but not any remains).  
  7. Write a story, song or poem including thoughts and feelings about your companion.  Put it in your journal or frame it and keep it near by.
  8. Make music.  With the many wonderful music making programs available now (such as Garage Band), you can make your own musical background for your companion.  It can include snippets of songs that convey a special meaning or time, sounds like the seashore or rain, sound effects like laughter and crying.  Again, it doesn't have to be perfect or professional; it just has to be yours.  Get absorbed in the process then listen to the music when you need comfort or wish to think of your beloved animal.
     If you are more comfortable purchasing an item, there are many wonderful products available.  Below is a list of some (of the many) items available:

  • ClayPaws - lovely paw print mementos
  • Pet Paw Print Stones - laser engraved flagstones and river rocks, perfect for a memory garden
  • Perfect Memory Pandora Beads - these beads are made in your choice of color with a small amount of your companion's ashes swirled into glass.  Sized to fit Pandora, Troll and Biagi bracelets
  • Memory Stones - beautiful works of art, these stones include some of your companions ashes and hair or fur.  They can be made into pendants, key chains, sun catchers or pocket stones
  • Plantable Pendants - a lovely and unique idea.  The pendant features  a dog, cat, bird or flower.  They can be worn for up to 2 years, then you plant them and flowers grow. 
  • Old World Stones - custom engraved river stones and tablets.  Starting at $20
  • Pet Pendant Miniature Urn - a tiny silver urn in the shape of a paw print that holds a small amount of your companion's ashes
  • Pawprint Locket - for holding pictures or mementos
  • Custom Memory Box - front has a picture of your companion and a paw print.  Inside you can store blankets, collars and other items
  • Stained Glass Panels - custom made in your pet's likeness. 
  • Mourninglights - candle holders etched with your words and an image of your companion.  Lasts forever as you use votive candles inside.

We invite you to share your ideas and suggested products also.

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