Sunday, December 7, 2008

A SPIELBERG CHRISTMAS (dedicated to Carmie & Yvonne)

To every pet parent, I remind you to pull out the video camera this holiday and be sure to get lots of extra footage of your beloved animal.

To those pet parents who may be going through their first holiday after the passing of a 4-legged son or daughter, I encourage you to honor your grief by letting it breathe, rather than trying to stuff it in. You don't have to pretend to be happy.

To all of you, I offer this excerpt from my book,
The Healing Art of Pet Parenthood:

"After seeing the article, my friend, Hanna, whose mother had recently passed, called, and in the course of conversation, encouraged me to borrow a video recorder. She shared that in her grief, the only thing that could bring her any comfort at all was the one video she had of her mom at a recent holiday dinner. She explained that while watching the video, it was as if her mind was tricked into thinking her mom was still alive. Of course Hanna knew intellectually that wasn’t true but still, for those few minutes while she viewed the tape, saw her mother in action and heard her voice, she was offered some relief from her otherwise debilitating emotions.

After hanging up I called my friend Laurie who owned a video camera. She was also an avid dog lover. As the mother of a young son, Laurie had once shared with me that after having lost one beloved dog, in her heart, she suspected that the pain was no less than that of losing a human child. I was incredibly moved by her extremely bold and candid opinion. It was something I’d always believed, but having no human children of my own, it was not a statement I felt qualified to make. Maybe it was a more commonly held opinion than many were comfortable with or willing to admit.

The filming marathon began with Buttons in the yard walking and peeing. It continued with her in the apartment eating, drinking, and pacing. Soon, in full Spielberg mode, I set the camera up on a tripod and filmed my waking her up in the morning to go outside, us in the rocking chair while I sang her to sleep, me giving her a bath, drying her, and brushing her. I added the tapes to the Santa Cruz redwood hike video and some earlier tapes of Butts at around three years old in the park and at my cousin’s. Deep inside I knew, no matter how many hours of tape I accumulated, they wouldn’t come close to filling all the hours of grieving waiting for me somewhere up ahead."

Wishing you vibrant health
and precious moments-
Nadine (and Buttons)


OKim1 said...

Yes, a nice reminder. My Buster, a three legger lost his leg to cancer. I just picked up a camcorder to capture these special moments to save as cherished memories...He(Buster) is the best gift I ever received! Sadly, no one is promised tmrw. Everyday is a blessing!

Janet Roper said...

What a great idea to use video as a tool to aid in the grieving process. Pictures are good, but I can't help but think that a video adds that extra special touch. Thanks for the post, enjoyed it!

Jennifer said...

We lost our almost 2 year old Lab to bone cancer last year and I knew his time was running out, so I encouraged a family picture day when he was feeling pretty good. We will cherish those pictures forever!