Racing to claim a few hours of “me time” recently, I grabbed this book off of my desk as I left the house on my way to get a Saturday afternoon pedicure and all around “day of pampering.” Two hours later found me sitting with my feet soaking in floral scented water with tears streaming down my face as I faced my own grief over the loss of Buttons. A loss which I thought I had faced several months before – euthanasia due to advanced splenic cancer.
Kaplan prefaces her book by asking the reader “Do you want your sadness to vanish so you can feel better right now (pg. 13)?” This statement encourages as well as warns the reader that the grieving process in itself is a tribute to the pet that we have lost. With personal reflections which recount her own journey, Ms. Kaplan’s’ words are a special salve to the readers own pain. She helps the reader to explore and acknowledge their grief through thoughtful chapters complete with prompted journal entries for readers to utilize as a way of working through their own journey. Such a layout allows this book to be utilized over a long period of time without losing momentum.
The book is broken down into two sections: So Easy to Love and So Hard to Lose. The first section reminds owners to live for the moment with their pet and embrace the special relationship which they have so lovingly fostered after receiving the prognosis of a terminal illness. This section gives advice on things that should be taken care of while owners are of clear mind and able to make rational, calm decisions.
The second section of the book is to be read after a beloved pets death has occurred. This section is prefaced with the instructions to “Stop Here” and put the book away if the pet is still living. “So Hard to Lose” encourages the reader to work through the process of grieving with advice on management of emotions and coming to terms with the loss. Quite possibly the best advice found here is “forgive yourself so that you can honor your pet (pp. 66).” This is quite possibly the hardest thing for pet parents to do at the end yet the most important first step in the grieving process. This section strives to show owners how to honor through healing.
This book approaches the loss of a pet from an inter-personal standpoint that allows for self healing through introspective processes. The book has no religious overtones with which to confuse or preach to the reader, a real plus for use by people of all faiths and denominations. It is simply a book for you and your pet and is written in language to be understood by all ages.
Finally by sharing notes from her own “grief journal,” Ms. Kaplan shows that she knows of what she writes. By allowing the reader glimpses into her own private journey, the reader is enriched. This book should be required reading for all veterinary technician students as it defines the human-animal bond most strongly and therefore garners a 5 out of 5 star rating from this reviewer. While veterinarians themselves may not find a use for this book in their day to day practice of medicine, their clients will surely benefit from a copy surreptitiously tucked in among the pets returned belongings or cremains. In addition to the journalistic aspect of this book, the list of resources, hotlines and beautiful poetry at the end will surely be an added comfort as pet owners start their own journey.
Publisher: JanGen Press, Briarcliff Manor, NY