Grief is a funny thing.
For me, it comes in waves. Right now, I’m kind of like the weather: One minute, I’m fine, and five minutes later, I’m a complete in mess.
My mom died on January 28, and I’m struggling to deal with all the emotions that comes from missing someone with whom I wasn’t all that close when she was alive. It’s a weird place to be in.
I’m no stranger to loss. My dad died 26 years ago and my beloved Shep left my world on August 20, 2014.
Which brings me to why end of life pet photography is so important.
Not more than two weeks before my mom died, I had a long Zoom chat with a grief counselor. My plan was to write a series about coping with grief that comes before a death … like when you learn your dog has a terminal illness.
It can be a lot to manage, a different world to navigate.
Katie Curran, a mental health counselor and owner of Creative Awakening Counseling Services, and I spoke at length about grief and comfort. The ultimate goal isn’t just to blog about it but to also provide a better service with end of life pet photography.
To be a better comfort to pet parents facing their dog’s last days.
Then grief came for me again.
My mom was the person responsible for making me see the importance of taking pictures. That was a lesson underscored by my final days in our family home in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. As we were trying to sort through important items the day after Mom’s funeral, my brothers and I smiled and laughed at the photos she had taken with her Brownie Auto 27.
Five bins sat on the floor of the living room, one for each kid and one with communally important stuff we’ll “fight” over in May. My bin holds the Brownie camera and the Brownie 8mm movie camera.
Because family photos were important to her and she passed that passion on to me, putting a camera in my hands for the first time when I was a pre-teen.
Back to end of life pet photography
Among the first family photos I took were of our collie puppy, Princess, and more as she grew up into a beautiful dog who knew how to pose.
Really, it was like she knew I was coming around the corner with my camera.
And of course, when I became an adult and had my first big girl dog, Shep, he landed in front of my lens many times. That story is told often in the pages of this website.
But I didn’t know someone like me when Shep was alive, someone who dedicates her skills to memorializing the love I shared with my bubba. I would love to have beautiful portraits of the two of us together.
So when dog lovers come to me for end of life pet photography, they get all of me. If their pet has only hours or days left and they want these small reminders of their bond together, I will make it happen.
Because I know those small moments can help us manage our grief, those photos can bring smiles and laughter to faces flooded by tears and sadness.
They are tangible items to touch and hold when all you want is one last chance to stroke your boy’s fur or hug your mom. And tell them you love them.
All around the circle
Take photos. Lots of photos. Of your dog. Of your mom. Of everyone.
Have photos taken. With your dog. With your mom.
Print them. Don’t just leave behind a legacy of digital dust, easily deleted cloud-storage accounts and rewritable drives.
Have a shoebox full of 4×6 photos that someone has to go through one day, photo by photo, and laugh and smile and remember you.
I promise you those photos will help that someone work through their sadness.
Katie and I spoke at length about how end of life pet photography can be part of the healing process for pet parents and I hope to write all that out for you soon.
In the meantime, making those photos helps me. To give someone the legacy of their memories with their pet eases my heart and shines light into the darkness.
And for now, let’s turn to happier thoughts with the worldwide pet photographers blog circle. Start with Atlanta Pet Photographer Courtney Bryson, announcing the Embark Challenge Sessions, 12 new ways to work with her coming soon.
When you get to the bottom of Courtney’s post, click the next link in the circle and then keep going to magical places like Canberra, Australia, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, until you find yourself back here to end of life pet photography and managing grief.
That’s when you know you’re home.
Right where you belong.
And if you’re here because you need end of life pet photography, don’t hesitate to text or call me at (509) 720-8784.