Although a common thread connects the stages of grief, the journey of sorrow materializes differently for each person who trudges through it.  From overwhelming emotion, timeless pain and isolation to frozen reality or numbness, self-destruction and complete denial, grief is customized to each individual.

It is also very real and may be devastating when you lose a pet who has been an integral part of your family!

I lost my beloved Scruples on April 27 of this year.  My cat, who reminded me of Garfield, had just turned 20 years old.  He was with me, as my best friend, for half of my adult life.  My baby was there giving me unconditional love through some of the hardest times of my life: the loss of my marriage, my job and many loved ones.

Many sites such as the Mycog website (http://www.mycog.com/5stagesofgrief.htm) list five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  They explain the first stage as a refusal to believe what has happened.  The next step is bargaining.  Have you ever tried to make a deal with God?  This is the reality of this stage and most of us have been there at some time in our lives.

Depression follows bargaining, and it is described as the most difficult.  Overpowered by exhaustion, your zest for life is drained.  Most of us suffer some variation of this phase also.  Acceptance is the last step.  This is where you realize life must go on and you reluctantly start to move forward again.

Today, my mind seems to be in the acceptance stage as I know logically he isn’t with me physically anymore although my heart hasn’t quite caught up with my mind yet.  It is stuck in a more mild stage of depression, causing bursts of sadness at the most unexpected times.

I would love my world to go back to the way it was prior to his death but I realize this isn’t possible and my resistance only prolongs the agony.

I’m coping by trying to embrace all of these emotions and by channeling my sorrow into a positive and creative area.  I’m honoring his name by creating a new line of bereavement products called “Light of Love for Scruples.”

His loving impact on my spirit has inspired this line and it has helped me to find the courage to brave my world without him.

I’m pushing forward knowing my little angel is with me in a new way.  I’m stamping his paw print on each and every product that my business, Lifetime Art Impressions, ships into the world!

I’m not sure which stage of grief you are suffering today but I’m sure your loss is significant. Remember, your loved one would want you to embrace and to live your healthiest life possible.  Let this help you to find the strength to move forward again by making them very proud!

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Kathryn Williams Raths

Kathryn Williams Raths

I have always had creative threads of inspirations in my life. I can fall into an oil pastel drawing like the average person falls into a good book. It is a grounding process, allowing me to lose myself in my work, lose track of time and escape the pressures of everyday life. Unfortunately, I have not spent much of my life devoting time to my heart's desire; writing and exploring my creative impulses. I'm a single mom first and I've been a full-time employee in the business world for over the past 20 years. I’ve earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science. I live in the cornfields of Ypsilanti with my 2 sons, who are thirteen and fourteen, and my boyfriend, a wonderful man whom inspires and supports my dreams. During 2008, I had some life-altering experiences which have given me a new perspective and enabled me to reprioritize my responsibilities. I lost my father and my job, both of which I devoted much love and energy to and truly treasured. In the aftermath of my father's death, I reached deep within my core and wrote my book, What Can I Say When Words Escape Me, being present during times of sorrow. I can only hope these words of encouragement and nature photos touch your heart and up lift and hug your soul as they have for me. I currently write for the Examiner.com, Detroit market as a Healthy Living Reporter, http://www.examiner.com/x-27409-Detroit-Healthy-Living-Examiner. I'm grateful for my life's journey thus far and thankful for a nurturing, fulfilling future that enables me to reach out and help others struggling with hardship. http://still-waters-counseling.com/kathryn-raths-m-a-llpc/

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