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First and foremost, big hug, hang in there and take care of yourself regarding having to endure one of the hardest life experiences, saying goodbye to your loving companion and dear friend. For your reference, below are resources that helped and continue to help me.

I started this group to first see if there's enough interest to then formalize an actual face-to-face Meetup Group. So, for the time being, this Meetup only communicates through e-mail. Please feel free to e-mail me with questions, suggestions, how you're feeling and coping, and if you want to share memories and photos. Hopefully, over time this group can meet at a designated location, where each participant will have equal time to express her or his loss and recovery to the rest of the group and then the group can further discuss, give advice, etc.

The formalized group would be peer-supported without a professional facilitator, mostly because I don't know of one who would work pro bono. So, by joining this group, participants are not held liable for the support and advice given to other participants. If a participant needs additional support or professional services, then to the best of the group's abilities and knowledge such resources will be suggested.

Here's my story, which prompted forming this group.

Since 2003, my husband and I have been living & working on a small farm east of Salem, which is where I became a cat lady to 4 cats that found us. Tragically, in 2011, three much-loved cats of ours had to be put to sleep because of fatal illnesses, two due to complications from renal failure and diabetes. The third cat had been misdiagnosed, and by the time the correct diagnosis was made, which was vestibular disease associated with cryptococcosis, it was too late for treatment.

I knew these extremely heart-rending decisions were the right ones to make, but it didn't make the loss of these amazing beings any easier on my psyche and in my heart. Soon after, I heard about the DoveLewis Pet Loss Support Group, which meets several times monthly at its main Portland, Oregon location and is led by a certified grief counselor.

So far I’ve only attended one of their meetings; however, it was very helpful for me being among others who immediately understood and listened to my grief, and I felt it helped me with my grief by listening to and helping others. Since it's an hour-plus drive to attend those meetings, I looked closer to home for a similar group, but there weren't any. (Willamette Valley Humane Society in Salem, Oregon used to have a group.)

Between this meetup and other support groups, hopefully anyone dealing with such profound loss will find help, support, a friendly ear, and, in turn, help others with their grief. Below are some resources that helped and continue to help me.

Again, thanks for reaching out during such a difficult time. Please keep in touch and take care, Jill Hearst

RESOURCES:

1. Dove Lewis Pet Loss Support
http://www.dovelewis.... (http://www.dovelewis.org/community-services/pet-loss-support)
At web site, click on "grief support" for days/times the support group meets. and click on "pet loss journal" for info on a customized journal that was very helpful to me in understanding and writing about my emotions. The journal can be purchased through their web site, but if you can attend a support group, then these journals are usually given away to participants.

2. Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support
http://www.vetmed.wsu... (http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/PLHl/)
Like Dove Lewis, WSU has a hotline and e-mail address you can contact and appears to be staffed by vet students trained in grief counseling by a licensed therapist.

3. Coping with Pet Loss from Lighthearted Press in Portland, Oregon.
http://www.lightheart... (http://www.lightheartedpress.com/pet-loss.htm)
I came across this resource after purchasing one of their books, "Forever Paws" by Christine Davis. This link is to a wonderfully comprehensive web site offering support and advice for dealing with all aspects of your loss, from when it may be time to say goodbye to coping with the grief to contemplating a new pet. The site also has a store where you can purchase their books and pet loss gift packages.

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