Grief is processed in all kinds of ways. It is prudent to allow yourself a lot of leeway in what you consider normal. In fact, if it brings you relief or closure it has value. There is a phone booth in Japan a man used to start sending messages to the other side.
In Otsuchi, Japan resident Itaru Sasaki was the originator of the phone booth. Grieving a lost cousin in 2010, he used the phone to stay connected to his cousin in a time of deep grief. Sasaki said that he knew his thoughts couldn’t be carried on a regular phone line, so he wanted them carried on the wind.
First only Sasaki used the phone booth. Then in 2011 Otsuchi had a tsunami and earthquake that devastated the town, killing over 800 residents. Suddenly the phone booth became a popular destination. Now, it has tens of thousands of visitors who have used the phone to call their deceased friends or family members.
Photo Credit - Wikipedia - Wind Phone Booth Otsuchi, Japan
The phone booth is an example of finding catharsis for grief. We can all find relief in diverse sources of comfort, and talking to the deceased loved one can bring you closure and comfort. Studies have shown that finding a proper outlet for your grief can speed up the grieving process and aid you through all to an acceptance for your grief. Now there are numerous “wind phones” all over the world.
When my first Bichon and my mother died within four days of each other, I was inconsolable. The one thing I found relief in was to go to a Sufi Center and allow them to chant over me while I cried. It felt good to have a loving presence in the room while I cried, even though I had no idea what they were saying.
How you process your grief isn’t as important as the fact that you do the processing. Once when I lost a horse, I consoled myself by collecting beautiful looking river rocks for my front yard. It was a weird habit; I have no excuse for it except that the collection of these rocks calmed me and made me feel better somehow.
Another tradition that I do now when I lose a pet is to listen to music that has absolutely no meaning to me or memories to it. I don’t want to hear that song that reminds me of my departed loved one. Instead, selecting unknown music causes me to find new styles of music, or play old styles that I never got in to before. When I lost my last pet, I played Frank Sinatra for a week. Another time I wallowed in sad country music long enough to find the melodrama absurd.
A study in Psychological Science showed that holding grief in can cause an even more dramatic impact from those feelings of grief later. This is even more important to think about when you are dealing with the loss of a pet, because people might minimize your loss, or not even acknowledge it because they see pets differently than you do (i.e. Saying that it is “just a pet,” not a family member who is a sentient being).
If you like the idea of a “Wind Phone” but don’t have access to one, think of something similar. Perhaps you can share your thoughts or message with another four footed family member. Maybe speaking aloud isn’t something you need to do to process, but writing out how you feel could be the ticket. I have noticed that feelings will come out in spurts- and that feelings can be hidden under other emotions that are on top. When I processed anger about the guilt I had about one of my pet’s deaths, it released the memories I had of joy and laughter that were suppressed underneath. You can also do a video diary of your grief. Having a record of the fact that you have gone through something so difficult and have come out the other side could be comforting later.
So whatever way you choose to get your feelings out, just being able to release them is healthy. The more you process how you feel, the more your feelings evolve and help you to move to a place where you still miss your loved one, but you also are present in the current time.
Do you know someone dealing with the loss of a beloved pet? Reach out to them and acknowledge their loss. Think of what a small gesture would mean to you in a time of grief and pay the kind gesture forward.
Ann Hoff is a well-known Animal Communicator, Intuitive Medium, and a regular contributor to our FB Group “I Am not Crazy Because I Talk to Animals” and leads a monthly Zoom call with members wishing to chat with a pet, or simply ask Ann a question. This month's content addresses the earthly lessons we learn through loss.
PetPerennials.com offers a range of cards and remembrances that you can send to someone you know dealing with loss. If you can, call or write and spend a moment talking to the person about their loss. It will matter far more than you realize.