Thursday, December 16, 2010

Valuing Silliness, Sentiment and Science

You'll find all three on our grief support site, especially on our boards.

Let's start with the most serious one first.

Science: It helps to have information about research on grief and emotional states. And since so many of our members have other pets, information on pet care and health is important. We're also very interested in research that supports a belief in an afterlife we share with our pets.

Sentiment: We're unabashedly sentimental. We create a safe place for people who miss the pets they've lost to grieve openly. We love our pets, and we also know that people who try to suppress their feelings about losing their pets (especially out of fear of criticism from people who don't understand) will be postponing grieving but not escaping it completely -- and the result of suppressing that grief can be emotional and physical health problems later. We're also very sentimental about the pets still with us, sharing both joys and worries, asking for prayers for them when they're ill, and celebrating every new adoption in our online family.

Silliness: How do you cope with life without humor? How do you relieve stress without some silliness to offset it? We believe you can't, so we welcome silly pet pics, whether from our own members or from a site such as the Lolcats site, ICanHasCheezburger. We post jokes, and we talk about silly subjects. And when we picture our pets in heaven, we may imagine them having parties and doing other things that they didn't do here. That's fine -- it helps us heal. And who can say that our pets aren't having those parties we love to picture?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Frosty at a frosty window - haiku & pic

Frost on the window
Frosty gazes at crystals
Warm against the cold

Frosty has been at Rainbow Bridge more than two years now, but I'm missing my little lynxpoint this morning. I wrote a haiku for her while thinking of this old photo, taken on January 14, 2005.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Top 10 Signs A Cat Is Subbing For Santa

Top 10 Signs A Cat Is Subbing For Santa:

10) Telltale bits of catnip on the fake beard.
9) Real whiskers above fake beard oddly long and skimpy.
8) All furniture given at Christmas mysteriously labeled "Scratching Post."
7) More frequent litter box changes blamed on reindeer.
6) Elves making only cat toys.
5) All dogs receive empty stockings marked "Naughty, naughty, naughty."
4) Reindeer renamed after favorite cat food brands.
3) Cat door added to chimney.
2) Milk left for Santa is gone, but cookies are left behind with form letter requesting tuna next year.

And the #1 sign a cat is subbing for Santa:

1) After the presents are all delivered, Santa HAS to play in the empty bag.

- Cindy Morgan (SinbadsMom), 2003

I've also posted this in a topic at Lighthouse Beacon.

Our Christmas Page

The Night Before Christmas At Rainbow Bridge

Monday, November 1, 2010

Evidence of the Afterlife

This time of year -- the end of October and beginning of November -- has long been marked by festivals of the dead in many cultures around the world.

But in a grief support group, the subject of death and spirits and the afterlife is a daily one.

As I wrote in a post at the Beacon a few years ago:

Support is invaluable after a loss. And finding ways to honor and remember your loved one is also very important.

But what I think we all want most is some assurance that this is only a temporary separation and we will see our loved ones again, including the animals we love.

Some people find that assurance through religious faith. And there are scriptures and other religious teachings to support that belief. Over the years, though, I've met some people who'd unfortunately had others of their religious faith insist to them (whether through well-intended ignorance or a dislike of the importance of pets in other people's lives) that pets do not go to heaven. Fortunately, in all the cases I'm aware of, we were able to reassure those people that they will see their pets again, and that not everyone who shared their religious belief agreed with whoever had ignorantly tried to dispel their hope of eventual reunions with their pets on the other side.

But you don't need any religious faith to believe in an afterlife and reunions with your loved ones, including your pets.

And no one who joins our community has to share any of our other members' beliefs, whether religious beliefs or a belief in an afterlife. We don't care -- and I especially don't care -- whether you're Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, or a member of any other religion or belief system. (I personally don't believe God -- or the Light, or Source, or whatever name you choose -- cares, either. I believe what matters is love, which should be shown toward all of Creation, and kindness, which is love in action.)

Skeptics are also welcome. But we'll tell you about personal experiences that have led us to believe, independently of what any religious faith might say, that our pets' spirits, like ours, live on.

Those experiences fall into two groups, ADCs or after death communications, and NDEs or near-death experiences. (ADCs would also include the experiences mediums themselves have before they relay information to others, but the term ADC refers to unmediated communications.)

There have been a number of valuable studies of these types of experiences.

One researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Long, an oncologist, has studied both ADCs and NDEs.

He had his wife Jody, an attorney, have set up very interesting websites to help their research. I've been directing people to their website on ADCs, the After Death Communication Research Foundation, since I first saw it in 2003. The ADC stories there include some about pets, such as this one:

Rhonda H's ADCs

Their Near Death Experience Research Foundation website also has personal accounts of experiences involving pets who had crossed over before that person had the NDE, like these:

Johnathon's NDE

Wayne R's NDE

Dr. Long has written a book based on that NDE research.

Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences lays out nine lines of evidence from NDEs that he considers proof of the afterlife.

You can read more about his book and the nine lines of evidence on this page:

Evidence of the Afterlife:
The Science of Near-Death Experiences

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Honoring our pets by helping others

We all want to honor the pets we've lost and miss. And there are so many ways to honor them, as I've learned over the years. Pets can be memorialized through words, photos (or slide shows or videos), websites, music, artwork of all types, and outdoor memorials from gravestones to memorial gardens.

All these memorials honor them and help us heal.

But one of the most important ways we can honor our pets -- the one which I believe brings the most healing -- is by helping others.

Other people, and other animals.

These are living memorials, and never-ending memorials, because the care and love given will often be extended to others by those who have been helped, whether it's a rescued animal bringing blessings of love and companionship to a new forever family, or a person saved from the depths of despair reaching out with kindness and sympathy to others who are grieving.

Like ripples spreading out from a pebble tossed into a pond, the effect of donating time or money to a shelter, or offering other people support in a pet loss grief support group, can extend far beyond that first helpful effect.

It's important to remind our members of that. Those kind actions and words can go on helping, long afterward.

I believe this is especially true with online support groups, where people can find comfort from what others wrote even if years have passed since those messages were posted, whether the person who posted the message was sharing similar feelings of loss or offering words of reassurance and hope. Those words are always fresh, the first time they're read by someone new. They can have the same impact they had on the day they were posted.

When we help others, whether animals or humans, we're paying it forward, after having had our own lives brightened immeasurably by our pets' unconditional love for us.

And sharing the love we were blessed to receive brings true healing. Trying to help someone else when you're hurting yourself, grieving deeply, may seem difficult at first, almost impossible. But you'll find if you reach out that you'll become stronger by helping others no matter how weak and helpless your loss might have you feeling now. You'll lift yourself up, as you lift others up.

The effects of that kindness will be much wider-reaching than you'll ever know, and much more appreciated.

Especially by your loved ones on the other side, who I believe will see just how much good you've done, and how far those ripples of care and compassion are reaching, as you honor them by helping others.

Cindy Morgan (SinbadsMom)


We have a Facebook page now for The Lighthouse for pet loss grief support. Please join us!


I've deleted a detailed and complicated blog entry from last year because it's no longer relevant. We've simplified our site, including the forum structure at Lighthouse Beacon.