So Long, Old Friend
Service set in memory of lost pets

Losing a pet is losing a loved one. And for many people, the grieving process can take just as long as losing a family member or friend.

Offering a safe environment for people to mourn the pets that have brightened their lives is the idea behind the pet memorial service, Paws to Remember, 10 a.m. Saturday 8 May 2010 at Central Center in Centennial Park, 1028 E. Sixth St.

“There aren’t a lot of places for people to be open about the lost of a pet,” said the Rev. Taylor McNac, a veterinarian and hospice chaplain. “I’ve seen how a memorial can be a place of healing and encouragement from others — a place where you can find understanding.”

Taylor McNac has envisioned a citywide pet memorial for years and contacted the Oklahoma Animal Alliance to help organize the event. She is the creator of Pet Peace of Mind, a program for hospice patients and pets, and sees first hand the joy that pets bring to people with terminal illnesses.

“I knew that we are a significant pet-loving place in Tulsa,” she said.

The hour-long interfaith service, led by Taylor McNac, will include a candle lighting ceremony and a pet memorial
slide show.

“But it’s also a day to make a statement and stand up for pets with no voice,” said Jamee Suarez-Howard, founder and president of Oklahoma Alliance for Animals. “We also want to remember all the abandoned, abused and neglected animals, as well as pets that died in shelters and rescues that didn’t have homes. We can’t save them all, but we can show our support for them as a community of pet loving people.”

Often when someone is experiencing a pet loss they are afraid of being ridiculed.

“As a culture we are entering a new phase where pets are moving from being outside and distant to being family members — that’s changing,” Taylor McNac said. “But there’s still a significant part of our culture who doesn’t understand the bond of a pet to a person, and they might minimize the experience (of losing a pet).”

It’s important to find a safe place to express grief and loss, she said.

“Find a safe friend or family member who understands, and be wise about sharing with people who will criticize you,” she said.

Sometimes writing down your feelings helps, whether it’s through letters, poetry or blogs, she said.

“Just talking about it helps. Like with any other loss, they can become physically ill over time by not expressing it,” she said.

Therapeutics service dogs will on hand to provide support and comfort to attendees, as well as pet loss grief counselors.

Kim Brown 581-8474
kim.brown@tulsaworld