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HOW TO FIND COMFORT AFTER THE DEATH OF A PET

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Our beloved 11-year-old cat, Brutus, was attacked and killed by the neighbor's dog just two months ago. Losing him to a violent death and not being able to say goodbye seemed to compound our grief. The following are some things that have helped our family:

- My 16-year-old son and I dug Brutus's grave and buried him in our backyard. Being able to put forth this physical effort seemed to relieve our sense of frustration. We also said a prayer before we buried him.- Within the next week, I wrote down numerous memories of Brutus from the time we got him as a scared little kitten. I included the hilarious and amazing things he did like jumping high into the air to catch a toy. Putting down the memories and love I had for him was a great comfort to me, and I shared what I had written with my family before placing it in my journal.

- My 19-year-old son seemed to be having the most difficult time handling his grief. Finally, he gathered together all the snapshots we had taken of Brutus through the years. Again, we looked at the pictures and remembered all the happy times Brutus had given us. My youngest son chose a photo of himself and Brutus and put in a frame to keep in his room.

- I have a dear friend who loves dogs like I love cats. She offered an understanding heart and a ready ear when I have needed to talk about Brutus. This has been a great comfort to me.

We still imagine seeing Brutus coming down the hall and going to the pantry door to beg for an extra can of food. It still hurts when he's not there to welcome us when we come home. But we are ready now to share our home and our hearts with one or two other kittens - not to replace Brutus, but in his honor because we loved him so much. - Julia Longnecker, Riverdale, Ga.

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How we did it:

Much joy, love

At six weeks of age, Sandy, our dear silky -terrier/ Chihuahua, weighed five ounces and fit into the palm of my husband's hand. Fully grown, he tipped the scale at a mere 7 pounds. He was a healthy, robust little dog, as we took him to the veterinarian for yearly injections to guard against illness.

He gave us much joy and much love for nearly seven years. Then one day he suddenly became vicious. The diagnosis - an inoperable brain tumor that had caused blindness, hence the viciousness because of fear. Our little dog died.

My husband and I mourned for several months until we read point four on page 763 in the Bible Dictionary, which states, "Animals are resurrected from the dead." What great comfort and solace this statement has been for us. - Marilynn Domroe, Busselton, Australia

Share feelings

Just recently we lost our dog of 10 years to cancer. Here are just a few thoughts that have helped us deal with the loss:

- Knowing he suffers no more. Death brought him relief and peace.

- Sharing feelings of grief with those closest to you. My husband and I have found it helpful to talk about our feelings with one another and to share our grief and sadness. Many may not understand the closeness you shared with your pet, so talk with those who do understand.

- Talking about pleasant memories. Remember the good times you shared with your pet. It's OK to laugh about the good times you spent together.

- Giving yourself time to work through the grief. When we come home to an empty house without the wag of a friendly tail, the ache is there and will be for a long time. - Nancy Robinson, St. Louis, Mo.

New memories

- Give yourself time to mourn. You have lost an important part of your life. However, don't deny yourself for too long the pleasure of having a pet.

- Realize that when you are again ready for that special joy in your life you might want to adopt a pet of a different color, breed or gender. You are not replacing memories, you are acquiring new ones. - Claudette Johnson, Athens, Texas

Creatures of God

The following has been most helpful in coping:

- Being at peace with the knowledge that throughout their lives with us, our dogs were loved, treated well and respected as creatures of God.

- Remembering the personality and particular characteristics of the pet and sharing the memories with others. There should not be any embarrassment about acknowledging how much a pet has meant to us. - Rose Bishop, Las Vegas, Nev.

Pain was gone

After my cat, which I had raised from a small kitten, was diagnosed with a fatal disease, I spent his last few days writing about him. I included all the fun things he had done. Then one evening my wife prayed that we might have fond memories of him. After that, the pain of his passing was gone, and I was able to just enjoy the nice memories. - Rolan S. Carr, Salt Lake City, Utah

New pet

My cat of 13 years passed away soon after I moved to another state. Needless to say, it was a very sad time. I found comfort in writing about her in my journal - how she had been the source of so much happiness and how I appreciated the Lord's blessings to her through many close calls.

When my cat died, a friend at work asked me if I'd like a kitten. Having this new pet is great! - Kathy Funk, Detroit Lakes, Minn.

Favorite picture

Last month our 12-year-old dog, Cuddles, died. Being a single-parent family with five children, we found that she really helped with alerting us to anyone outside, greeting children when they came home from school or work, and giving companionship on lonely nights. We framed a favorite picture of her for our family room. We talk about our memories of her, and we still miss her. We should not feel ashamed of having loved animals. - Cheri L. Jarvis, Mesa, Ariz.

Memories, pictures

To help pet owners through the grieving process, I recommend the following:

- Remember the pet through loving memories and pictures.

- Speak of the pet with others who knew and loved her/him.

- Pray for comfort.

- Know that you gave your pet the best loving care you could.

- Know that your pet is happy and free of ailments. - Mary Cooke, Salt Lake City, Utah

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How to checklist:

1 Take time to work through the sorrow. Talk about pet.

2 Cherish memories; compile pictures, write down feelings.

3 Feel assured, be grateful you gave your pet good home.

4 Get another pet when ready; build new memories.

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WRITE TO US:

Sept. 16 "How to overcome obstacles to meaningful Church activity as a new member."

Sept. 23 "How to forgive a child for the heartache caused by rebelliousness."

Sept. 30 "How to encourage participation in Church classes."

Oct. 14 "How to benefit from stake conference as an individual and/or as a family."

Oct. 21 "How to overcome discouragement while serving a full-time mission."

Oct. 28 "How to teach children to forgive."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, or send fax to (801) 237-2121. Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.