I’m so flattered—Karen Litzinger, author of Heal Your Heart: Coping with the Loss of a Pet, included mention of my animal sympathy cards and commissioned portraits in her latest e-newsletter.
She’s also local and we often attend the same events, so we recently saw each other at Hot Dogs in the Strip with the Animal Rescue League.
She’ll be facilitating an animal memorial and blessing on Pet Memorial Sunday, September 12 at Peaceful Pastures Pet Cemetery. I’ll be at the Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation remembrance at the same time, so I won’t get to join her there. (A few years ago, who would have thought there’d be this many pet remembrance events?!)
I will be able to see her again in October when she is available for animal blessings on October 3 at Journeys of Life In Shadyside, as a benefit for the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania.
I take committing an animal’s image to any merchandise seriously. I can ask humans if they mind being the representative of something I create, but animals can’t directly answer that question so I need to intuit their answer. Of course, this works best with my own cats (as if they have a choice).
I don’t feel that I know most other animals well enough, but when I visited Karen and met Tika, who is a therapy dog, I knew instantly that she’d be happy to help heal someone’s grief on the cover of a sympathy card.
The other card she mentioned is the only non-pictorial card. I created the image using the abstract watercolor pattern I created for the back of her CD, working into the electronic version of the original art with PhotoShop and InDesign to create the path of hearts and paws.
She also has some exciting news about four radio interviews she’s had around the country in the last month.
I’m so glad to see Karen’s success with her CD. I’ve given it as a gift to friends who’ve lost their precious companions, and I know it certainly was comforting as I listened to it while I designed the illustrations, knowing Namir and I didn’t have too much more time together; I lost him a month after I finished the illustrations.
You can read Karen’s e-newsletter at her community site on iContact.
It’s a street fair for the animals this Saturday as the Animal Rescue League takes over a block of the Strip District! Join us from noon to 7:00 p.m. at 2701 Penn Avenue.
Seventeen vendors will be offering things for your pets, things for you, information and of course the ARL will be there with cats and dogs who are ready to go home with you!
The Animal Rescue League is also offering games and crafts for kids, and several musicians will sit in during the day.
I’ll be right next to Karen Litzinger, author of Heal Your Heart, and I’m looking forward to seeing a few other animal-themed vendors I haven’t seen yet this year.
If you’re in Pittsburgh, I hope to see you there! And I hope to have great adoption numbers to report, too!
The event benefits both the shelter and the ARL Wildlife Center.
Karen Litzinger, author of the CD and guidebook Heal Your Heart: Coping With the Loss of a Pet, will be the featured guest this Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 4:00 PM EST on Wendy’s Animal Talk, an internet radio program that has over 400,000 listeners weekly.
Karen is a licensed professional counselor and while her main business is employment counseling she has long had an interest in animals and naturally gravitated to grief counseling after the loss of her dogs. Also from that loss came the inspiration to create something that veterinarians could give their clients who had lost pets. Once begun, this project grew into the gentle counseling voice of the CD which offers kind words, a guided meditation, repeated affirmations, readings and more. The CD comes with a booklet that offers more support and resources for pet loss counseling and information.
I’ve written about Karen various other times on The Creative Cat including Heal Your Heart: Coping With the Loss of a Pet and Heal Your Heart After Pet Loss, a Remarkable CD and Guidebook. I can vouch for the effectiveness of the CD and for Karen’s gentle personality.
The host of the radio program, Wendy Nan Rees, is formerly of Animal Planet’s Pettsburg USA.
Tune in to Wendy’s Animal Talk at healthylife.net. Listeners can call in with comments or questions: 800-555-5453. The show will be repeated at 4 AM EST on Wednesday, April 14 and will be in the archives for three months.
Karen Litzinger, author of the CD/guidebook Heal Your Heart: Coping With the Loss of a Pet, will be the featured guest this Thursday for the nationally streamed radio show, Pittsburgh’s Talkin Pets on KQV AM 1410.
Heal Your Heart features Karen, a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Bereavement Facilitator, reading comforting messages, pet-focused affirmations, and even a guided meditation along with comforting accompanying harp music. The booklet provides supportive suggestions, information explaining the stages of grief and resources such as books and hotlines to assist the grieving person.
In addition to introducing the audience to her CD and discussing how she authored and produced it, Karen will discuss pet loss in general with the hosts. This will be her first appearance, but she will be a featured guest in the future as well.
The weekly radio show covers many topics and is hosted by Nan Cohen of KQV and Carol Boerino-Croft of Cozy Inn Pet Resort and Orchid Spa. Pittsburgh’s Talkin Pets is at 8:00 PM (usually 8:30, and the station website still reflects this) and is scheduled for rebroadcast on Saturday at 3:30 PM. You can listen to the audio stream from any location at www.kqv.com.
Heal Your Heart was recently reviewed by the prestigious Spirituality and Health Magazine, March-April issue.
Also, in April, Heal From Pet Loss is teaming up with Color Me Mine paint your own pottery studio in Squirrel Hill to host a creative fundraiser for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society in recognition of National Pet Parents Day, hosting a painting party on Sunday, April 25.
Karen will also be a featured speaker at the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement Conference in May. She will be delivering a Guilt and Pet Loss Overview, as she describes:
Guilt is often a natural part of the grieving process. Because of our role as caretaker to a dependent animal, guilt can be even more significant in pet loss than with other losses. Whether we have made real or perceived mistakes, many of us can become stuck in an unforgiving grip of guilt. By understanding the nature of guilt we will be on our way to take back control of our thoughts, feelings and lives. This session will also review multiple strategies to combat guilt, whether for yourself or for people you assist, and will invite strategies from participants. We will take an in-depth look at how to use cognitive psychology principles to examine and reframe negative self-talk as a strategy to overcome guilt, including a hands-on exercise.
I had the honor of illustrating this CD, and I can attest to its effectiveness, and also to Karen’s comforting and gentle nature, and it’s my pleasure to promote Karen and her CD whenever I can. I’ve written about her on this blog in Heal Your Heart: Coping With the Loss of a Pet covering the content and creation of the CD, and in Heal Your Heart After Pet Loss, a Remarkable CD and Guidebook covering the more personal aspects of Karen’s journey from the loss of first one dog and then another, turning her experience into a creative effort.
For extra interest, check out Cozy Inn’s Zen approach to pet care at www.cozyinnpetresort.com.
Fourth in a series of “pet loss and grief told from personal experience”
I remember in the last days of each of my cats’ lives looking at people who I knew had lost pets and thinking, “Oh, they’ve crossed over, and they survived …”, so of course I could, too, though I knew it would not be without pain.
Now you and your animal companion have both crossed over, one to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, and one to a sort of purgatory of pain and sorrow. No matter how you may have prepared yourself, nothing spares you in those last hours of life and the first few hours after your companion’s death. Get yourself in a comfortable, protected place and just let yourself feel what you feel and do what you need to for a few hours at least. Understand and be gentle with yourself.
And it can be especially difficult if there was an accident, a mistake, or if you have any regrets. You will resolve those in time.
You may feel the need to avoid things that remind you of your pet, a certain room in the house, your backyard, even a favorite activity suddenly brings you heartbreak.
For me, it was the first meal given to the rest of the household after the loss, a few of them confused but most of them happy for the routine, me crying so hard I could barely see, thinking that just the last meal, a few hours ago, they were here. It was always difficult to walk in the door after being away as well, especially when I worked a day job.
Take your grief to a safe place
Grieving the death of your pet is no longer something to hide, though you’ll still find people who snicker or get impatient and make rude or painful remarks. No matter what others may say, loss is loss and must be grieved in your own way or it leaves a scar.
Take some time each day to sit quietly and remember your pet, play music that soothes you or go somewhere that you find relaxing. Make this your special time with your pet’s memory, and start trying to remember the happy memories. Even if your pet only lived a short time, there are always more happy memories than sad.
This is the main article from Karen Litzinger’s November e-newsletter. She is the author of “Heal Your Heart”, the topic of the post immediately previous.
Do animals go to heaven? Do animals have souls?
With today being All Souls Day in the Christian tradition, I thought it would be timely to ponder these questions that animal lovers often struggle with upon the death of a beloved pet. And I would like to bring in a couple other religious perspectives too. This is just a brief glimpse into the topic since I am certainly no theologian. Upon doing some web searching and reading, I saw many perspectives on this topic.
While I read that “most theologians” would say that animals do not have souls, many theologians and writers have made compelling cases to the contrary. One of the first buyers of my Heal Your Heart CD, generously sent me the book, Will I See My Dog in Heaven by Jack Wintz. Among other things, this Franciscan Friar posits that the “very good” phrase in Genesis 1:31, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” is an argument for God’s desire to have both classes of creatures share in the original Garden of Paradise, and therefore, heaven. One of my earliest book reviewers, animal journalist, Michelle West, encouraged me to include the web site www.EternalAnimals.com in my CD booklet since it was helpful to her in addressing these questions. My personal copy of Pet Loss: A Spiritual Guide by Eleanor Lee Harris (note author complete name if searching) includes views on pet death by most of the worlds religions. Here are two brief statements from two religious traditions that loosely address this question from the book, In Praise of Animals, collected by Edward Searl.
Bhagavad Gita 9.7 – All creatures go forth from Me and all return unto Me
Buddist Prayer – May all sentient beings be happy, may all sentient beings be peaceful, may all sentient beings be free from suffering.
Personally I expect to have continued communication and contact with all creatures meaningful to me that have died, just as I already do.
Please visit Karen’s website at www.HealFromPetLoss.com and sign up for her monthly e-newsletter of information about animals and updates on her CD, “Heal Your Heart”.
After the loss of so many cats it’s healing now to be a part of a loving and sincere effort on the part of someone who is a licensed counselor and has prepared a recording and book of inspirational readings and information and affirmations for those who have also lost a pet. I had the opportunity to illustrate this wonderful recording, and to assist the author in publicizing and promoting it.
Ironically enough, I began the project just as I knew I would soon lose my Namir after four years of working with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and congestive heart failure (CHF). I can attest to the CD’s effectiveness. His loss followed the loss of five others a few years before.
That loss, and illustrating this CD, also led me to embark on a new offering in animal-inspired art and products: animal sympathy cards. I used the background art for the back of the CD as the background for one of my cards, and also used a number of my feline photographs.
Read about the CD and its author, Karen Litzinger, below. I’ll also be posting a e-mail newsletter she published this month, and I encourage people who love animals to visit her site and sign up for her newsletter.
Animal Lovers Comforted by New Pet Loss CD
Our animal companions have become more respected members of our society in recent years. From recognizing that people will not evacuate even a life-threatening situation if they can’t take their animals to realizing that a close bond with an animal can help people heal from both physical and emotional traumas, we’ve come to accept animals not simply as possessions but as friends or even members of our families.
Heal Your Heart: Coping with the Loss of a Pet by Karen Litzinger , MA, LPC, is a newly available CD and booklet combination which helps to guide the pet owner through the process of grieving their lost pet. The CD includes Litzinger, a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Bereavement Facilitator, reading comforting messages, pet-focused affirmations, and even a guided meditation along with comforting accompanying harp music. The booklet provides supportive suggestions, information explaining the stages of grief and resources such as books and hotlines to assist the grieving person.
Litzinger’s product is unique in pet loss support offerings. Many books have been written on the subject of pet loss, but few are published in audio form. And while other recorded products offer support in the form of affirmations to carry away or a guided meditation for grieving, Heal Your Heart is focused on the loss of a pet, which is unique in materials offering assistance with grief.
“Heal Your Heart is one of only a handful of audiobooks in the pet loss publishing market,” states Lorri A. Green, psychologist and author of Saying Good-bye to the Pet You Love. “The unique contribution of the CD is that it goes beyond giving educational information or a personal story. It contains powerful affirmation statements rooted in cognitive psychology.”
Grieving over the death of your pet used to have people rolling their eyes or seriously suggesting a mental health evaluation because “it” was “just a dog” or “only a cat”, a horribly disrespectful and painful comment to a person already in pain over a loss.
Not so today. Our companion animals are recognized not only for what they can do for us, but also for their own individual needs, personality and style, and so their loss is also recognized as the loss of a distinct individual.
Litzinger wrote all the text for the booklet and the readings and designed the entire concept as part of her grief response from her own loss.
“The CD is dedicated to my beloved dog children, Pepper and Zep,” Litzinger says without hesitation.
“My inspiration for the Healing Hearts CD came while driving home from the veterinarian with the cremains of my 15 year old dog, Pepper, who I had had since a puppy from a local rescue league,” Litzinger explains. “I was further motivated on my journey to create this CD when my 13 year old dog, Zep, died just four months after Pepper.”
She had originally wanted to create something for veterinarians to give grieving clients right after the euthanasia procedure to supplement the personal support and follow-up sympathy card.
“I created a pet loss booklet for veterinarians, but the CD is what I hope will serve grieving pet owners in a more profound way,” she continues. “Just as I found comfort in listening to a special music CD as I grieved for Pepper, I hope that some part of this CD will help in the healing process for you or the person to whom you give the CD.”
Her loss has not only become the gain of others who will find comfort from her CD and booklet, but also her own gain in finding this new professional outlet.
Litzinger is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Pennsylvania, and although her specialty is career counseling, after her loss and through of the idea of being able to help others she chose to attend a weeklong training through the American Academy of Bereavement to become a Certified Bereavement Facilitator. As part of renewing the certification, she did an internship under the direction of a psychologist through the Association of Pet Loss and Bereavement, an organization that hosts on-line chat rooms about the euthanasia decision and pet loss.
“I have a special interest in ritual as part of the healing process and conducted numerous non-denominational animal blessings and memorial services on a personal and professional basis,” Litzinger adds. “In addition to career counseling, I also offer pet bereavement counseling in the Pittsburgh area.”
The CD and book were positively reviewed by Nancy Peterson of the Humane Society of the United States, noted pet loss authors Lorri A. Green, Moira Allen, and Sherry B. True and animal journalists and writers Darlene Arden and Michelle West. In addition, during the two years Litzinger worked on creating the set, she asked friends and associates to review the product to ensure that the content universally appealed to the greatest number of people.
More information on the CD including reviews and excerpts as well as further resources for healing from pet loss can be found at www.healfrompetloss.com.