~ This is a revised post that was co-written with Coleen Ellis of Two Hearts Pet Loss Center ~
The Alchemy of Grief
There’s an old adage that says, “Good things come of bad,” and while we're hard pressed to embrace the notion that everything happens for a reason, on closer inspection, important discoveries do tend to result from life’s biggest challenges. Some happen spontaneously and others take sustained effort.
Consider where we are at this very moment in history. With this pandemic disrupting virtually every aspect of daily life, we’re already seeing remarkable positive trends taking hold, from record numbers of shelter animals being fostered and adopted, to school groups making and distributing hand-made masks, restaurants pivoting to respond to food insecurity, and international teams collaborating on developing a vaccine. We are collectively finding silver linings in the midst of this terrible storm.
When facing a difficult life experience, especially grief, we’ve come to recognize that we're also being presented with an opportunity to learn deeper lessons, and in fact, a chance to change the world for the better. Of course, we seldom invite adversity just to gain wisdom, but the intersection of love and grief is rich with extraordinary possibilities.
From Pain to Purpose
RemembeRing is a new mourning tradition born originally of another devastating virus — HIV. As Founder and CPL (Chief Pet Lover) of RemembeRing, I came up with this innovative idea while working as an art therapist and grief counselor in the AIDS community during the height of that crisis. My clinical responsibilities included preparing and accompanying children to family funerals. When one little girl was especially distraught and clearly needed an active way to participate in the service, I came up with this intervention on the fly and its therapeutic value was immediately evident.
Furthermore, during counseling sessions with adults, I was struck by the depth of raw, disenfranchised grief that many clients still held due to unacknowledged pet loss during childhood. They often expressed significantly greater grief and suffering related to those four-footed loved ones than for their two-footed family members who were actively dying. I knew then that society’s lack of shared pet loss rituals is a profound barrier to healing, and that RemembeRing could help to celebrate love and ease the heartbreak.
This customizable resource is specially designed for both “holding on and letting go.” The dual nature of this invention is so unique that it earned a patent. Each comes as a “tribute kit” and includes everything needed, aside from something to write or draw with and a 4" square photo and/or another memento of your furry friend. A RemembeRing is simple to create — you separate the center token from the outer ring, transform the outer ring into a frame for a favorite photo and/or memento like a tuft of fur or collar tag (the part for holding on), and the back of the center token is blank for writing a farewell message to your pet (the part for letting go). This process is very symbolic because despite ending up apart, the two elements are forever born of the same thing — one part is for you and one part is for your pet. This bond cannot be broken.
To experience pet loss during this pandemic is doubly excruciating, as the bereaved are physically isolated with their grief while also having to go through it without the very friend they’d usually count on for solace.
RemembeRing is the silver lining that delivers a very welcome ray of sunshine!
Take care! ~Emily
Please note that RemembeRing content is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace professional care. Be sure to reach out to your providers for their expertise as needed.