I would so like to thank Sid Korpi for writing such a heartfelt, uniquely empathic and sensitive book. I have always loved animals. (My family inherited a little chihuahua I grew up with). I can honestly say, however, that after reading this book, I will never be able to look at someone with their pet again without feeling even deeper feelings of affection for their precious creatures. I believe the book in effect touched my humanity and made me a better person for having read it. I think it would do the same for you.
Introducing the book Korpi asks what is a pet owner to do when those around them fail to understand the enormity of their loss. She argues that "Grieving the loss of a loved one, whether he or she is human or an animal, is arguably the most difficult task we must all inevitably endure." Significantly she also acknowledges however that "the pain of loss is compounded by the withdrawal/rejection you may feel from those who value the human/animal bond substantially less than you do." She very importantly points out that there is "something unique about relationships with animals" describing their unconditionally loving natures and lack of judgment. Korpi concludes her Introduction by stating that "This book is is intended to share stories of the miraculous ways in which that bond remains intact beyond death."
Part One: The All Important Grieving Process includes two informative charts--one on CHARACTERISTICS OF BEREAVED PET OWNERS from New Perspectives on Our Lives With Companion Animals
and another LEVELS OF HUMAN BONDING WITH ANIMALS from The Loss of a Pet
. I especially love Korpi's suggestion on how to address those insensitive to pet loss taken from Eleanor Harris' book Pet Loss: A Spiritual Guide
: "In my opinion you are not an animal person and have probably never experienced the special bond you can have with a pet. You do not understand the love...and companionship my pet gave my life. Please do not be so judgmental and intolerant, as I feel deep personal loss at this time." Also as Dr Michael Fox, the Animal Doctor, so aptly pointed out: "Many people say they have mourned the loss of a devoted, affectionate pet that brought joy and unconditional love into their lives more than that of a close relative."
Parts Two: Afterlife Connections-Humans and Three: Animals and the Afterlife could arguably be challenged by those of some religious faiths. Notably, however, even evangelist Billy Graham once said (as Korpi quoted): "I think God will have prepared everything for our perfect happiness (in Heaven). If it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there."
Personally I feel that Part Four: Memoralizing Methods was probably the most important section of the book. HOW DO I LOVE THEE? NUMEROUS WAYS TO HONOR YOUR BELOVED ANIMAL COMPANION'S LIFE is a compilation of suggested ideas Korpi collected to help people memorialize and honor their pets. There are over sixty (60) suggestions offered here from writing poems, songs, stories and books about your pet to drawing or painting pictures of your pet to embroidering a pillow with a likeness of your pet to joining pet loss support groups and including your pet in your daily prayers to donating to an animal rescue organization in your pet's name, volunteering in animal shelters, as a foster family for no-kill pet rescue organizations, etc. Korpi even includes a list of songs inspired somehow by our animal companions, my favorite being "Mr Bo Jangles" by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: "The dog up and died. he up and died. And after twenty years, he still grieves." Tenderly noted also are the lyrics from "Holly's Favorite Things" a song submitted by Erika Thorne of Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The concluding sections of the book are Parts Five, Six and Seven: All Things Considered, The Role of Philosophy, Religion and Spirituality in Healing and Moving On After Loss.
There is SO MUCH in this book. It is so well researched. There are numerous submitted stories lovingly included with photographs of many precious companion animals--dogs, cats,horses, rabbits, parakeets, etc.--(now deceased) attached. It was so touching to see how deeply these pet owners loved their companion animals. I found myself in tears many times. The human-animal bond is indeed a very special one no person should take lightly. I therefore strongly recommend this book to all--pet owners and non pet owners alike