Being Witnessed In Grief Is A Powerful Balm For Healing

    —
October 20, 2020

Dear friends,

Two days after my cat, Hedda, died in 2016, my friend Francis sent me a sketch with a note “from” Hedda that read, in part, “P.S. I love you more than tuna.” Through my tears, I thought that would be a great book title. I had a clear vision: an illustrated gift book that people would give to friends, family, colleagues, or clients after the loss of their cat. A step beyond a sympathy card, this would be the first “empathy book” for adults grieving the loss of a cat.

Thinking About You - Being Witnessed In Grief Is A Powerful Balm For Healing Blog

 

Inspired in part by Eckhart Tolle and Patrick McDonnell’s Guardians of Being and Charles M. Schultz’s Happiness is a Warm Puppy, P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna offers comfort and inspiration through New Yorker-style drawings and simple, evocative language. My goal was to make it heartfelt without being cloying.

Every year, six million Americans and Canadians must say a final goodbye to their cats—buddies who leapt into their hearts as kittens, purred away heartbreak through multiple breakups, snuggled by their side in homes large and small, and occasionally deleted folders of work by stretching out on a warm keyboard.

“Pet loss” is considered a disenfranchised form of grief; it’s not culturally sanctioned. We don’t have any universal rituals for this grief, like sitting shiva or holding a wake. This often leaves the bereaved feeling isolated and misunderstood, which compounds the grief and makes healing more difficult.

People grieving companion animals have a need to be seen, their grief validated. Being witnessed in grief is a powerful balm for healing.

Friends of those grieving companion animals are often at a loss for ways to show their support. P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna gives all of us the opportunity to make a profound impact with a simple gesture.

When Francis sent me the sketch and note, I felt seen. Francis’s gift acknowledged the bond I’d had with Hedda and my grief at her death. The present tense of the note also reminded me that Hedda was still with me, even if I couldn’t see her. That was significant in terms of helping me heal, and that’s the comfort I hope P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna will provide to other cat lovers.

Sounds True has created a lovely video preview for P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna. I hope you’ll check it out below.

Best Friends Animal - Thinking About You - Being Witnessed In Grief Is A Powerful Balm For Healing Blog

Ultimately, I hope this book will benefit the world in multiple ways: for the recipient, witnessing and healing; for the giver, a tangible action they can take to help another; for Best Friends Animal Society, to which I’m donating 10 percent of my proceeds, contributing to their work of keeping pets in the home. This includes helping low-income people connect with resources they need to feed, train, and care for their companion animals. And of course, I hope this will benefit Sounds True and their work in the world, which is quickly becoming more needed than ever.

Take care,

Sarah Chauncey

Book Cover

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Sarah Chauncey

Also By Author

However you need to grieve, that’s the right way for...

Grieving a cat—or any kind of grief—is not a one-size-fits-all experience (as though any experience or emotion were?). Some people can’t stop sobbing, while others reflect quietly. Some are comforted by hugs and rituals; others need solitude to process their loss.

There’s no “right” way to grieve, and there’s no “right” length of time. In fact, I don’t see a loss as something we “get over,” but rather something that becomes a part of our life experience. When our skin is gravely injured, it doesn’t go back to looking the way it did before; it heals, and we have a scar. 

Loss changes the fabric of our lives; it changes the way we perceive and interact with the world. And like a scar, walking through grief (not trying to circumvent it) makes something in us stronger, more resilient. Grief is something to be healed, not to transcend.

Grief is nonlinear, too. Our human minds would love to make grief into a process that has a distinct beginning, middle and end…but in my experience, that’s just not true. Grief, like life, is messy and unpredictable. As Jon Kabat-Zinn writes, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”

We all grieve, and for each of us, our grief is as unique as a fingerprint. If we try to avoid grief, it will redouble its strength and burst forth anyway. However you need to grieve, that’s the right way for you.

An original post by Sarah Chancey, the author of P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna, the first gift book for people grieving the loss of their feline friend. This originally appeared on morethantuna.com.

sarah chaunceySarah Chauncey has written and edited for nearly every medium over the past three decades, from print to television to digital. Her writing has been featured on EckhartTolle.com and Modern Loss, as well as in Lion’s Roar and Canadian Living. She lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, where she divides her time between writing, editing nonfiction, and walking in nature. Learn more at morethantuna.com and sarahchauncey.com.

 

 

 

 

 

ps i love you more than tuna

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Meet the author of . . . P.S. I Love You More Than Tun...

The Author

Sarah Chauncey is the coauthor of P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna along with illustrator, Francis Tremblay, coming October, 2020. She has written and edited for nearly every medium over the past three decades, from print to television to digital. Her writing has been featured on EckhartTolle.com and Modern Loss, as well as in Lion’s Roar and Canadian Living. She lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, where she divides her time between writing, editing nonfiction, and walking in nature. Learn more at sarahchauncey.com.

The Book

Book cover

Our cats occupy a unique space in our hearts. When they’re gone, the loss can be devastating, the grief profound.

 

P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna gives us an opportunity to give friends, loved ones, or ourselves tangible comfort during the grieving period, when so many of us feel isolated and misunderstood after a beloved pet dies.

 

 

Send us a photo of your sacred space.

sacred space

First Nation, Saysutshun Newcastle Island is an ancient forest and marine provincial park. Saysutshun, I’m told, means “training or preparation ground,” and indeed, for millennia before colonization, the Snuneymuxw brought healers to this small island to train “mentally, physically, and spiritually.” I knew none of this history when I first began walking long stretches of the uninhabited island’s 13.6 miles of trails. I only knew that the island seemed to lift away anything that wasn’t essential, easing my mind and making way for creative ideas to flow. I’d walk a bit, then sit and meditate, write for a while, then walk some more. This bench, under a circle of seven trees, became my favorite writing and meditation spot. The moss-covered trees became my friends, teaching me to stay rooted when things around me change. As I wrote in a 2016 essay about the island, “I have become a literal tree-hugger, and even—when nobody is looking—a tree-kisser.”

What was your favorite book as a child?

harold purple crayon

I was a total bookworm as a child. Instead of playing games at recess, I preferred to curl up under my desk and read. Of all the books I read—from every Encyclopedia Brown to Freaky Friday to The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (I was a precocious kid), the book with the most enduring impact was also the simplest: Harold and the Purple Crayon. I was enchanted by Harold’s adventures, amazed by his ability to draw his way out of every obstacle and ultimately find his way home. Long before I began seeing this as a metaphor for creativity (and life!), this story appealed to me. Fifty years later, I continue to find new layers of meaning in this little book. It’s a simple yet profound testament to the power of imagination and creativity.

What is one unexpected thing or habit that inspires your writing practice?

sarah chauncey forest new castle

Walking in nature is my creative “secret sauce” and the central practice to my writing. Several years ago, I realized that although my role in this world is as a writer, my job is to bring myself back into presence, over and over, to get into a place where words can flow through me. I walk to get out of my mind and into my body. I come into fierce presence by noticing the rain on my face, salal berries ripening into deep blue, or the texture of earth beneath my feet. When my body is occupied by walking, ideas bubble up from my subconscious. Whether I’m looking for ways to trim an over-long essay or searching for words to evoke a hard-to-articulate experience, as soon as my legs find their rhythm, ideas begin to flow.

Learn More

Book cover

Sounds True | Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Bookshop | Indiebound

Being Witnessed In Grief Is A Powerful Balm For Healin...

Dear friends,

Two days after my cat, Hedda, died in 2016, my friend Francis sent me a sketch with a note “from” Hedda that read, in part, “P.S. I love you more than tuna.” Through my tears, I thought that would be a great book title. I had a clear vision: an illustrated gift book that people would give to friends, family, colleagues, or clients after the loss of their cat. A step beyond a sympathy card, this would be the first “empathy book” for adults grieving the loss of a cat.

Thinking About You - Being Witnessed In Grief Is A Powerful Balm For Healing Blog

 

Inspired in part by Eckhart Tolle and Patrick McDonnell’s Guardians of Being and Charles M. Schultz’s Happiness is a Warm Puppy, P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna offers comfort and inspiration through New Yorker-style drawings and simple, evocative language. My goal was to make it heartfelt without being cloying.

Every year, six million Americans and Canadians must say a final goodbye to their cats—buddies who leapt into their hearts as kittens, purred away heartbreak through multiple breakups, snuggled by their side in homes large and small, and occasionally deleted folders of work by stretching out on a warm keyboard.

“Pet loss” is considered a disenfranchised form of grief; it’s not culturally sanctioned. We don’t have any universal rituals for this grief, like sitting shiva or holding a wake. This often leaves the bereaved feeling isolated and misunderstood, which compounds the grief and makes healing more difficult.

People grieving companion animals have a need to be seen, their grief validated. Being witnessed in grief is a powerful balm for healing.

Friends of those grieving companion animals are often at a loss for ways to show their support. P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna gives all of us the opportunity to make a profound impact with a simple gesture.

When Francis sent me the sketch and note, I felt seen. Francis’s gift acknowledged the bond I’d had with Hedda and my grief at her death. The present tense of the note also reminded me that Hedda was still with me, even if I couldn’t see her. That was significant in terms of helping me heal, and that’s the comfort I hope P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna will provide to other cat lovers.

Sounds True has created a lovely video preview for P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna. I hope you’ll check it out below.

Best Friends Animal - Thinking About You - Being Witnessed In Grief Is A Powerful Balm For Healing Blog

Ultimately, I hope this book will benefit the world in multiple ways: for the recipient, witnessing and healing; for the giver, a tangible action they can take to help another; for Best Friends Animal Society, to which I’m donating 10 percent of my proceeds, contributing to their work of keeping pets in the home. This includes helping low-income people connect with resources they need to feed, train, and care for their companion animals. And of course, I hope this will benefit Sounds True and their work in the world, which is quickly becoming more needed than ever.

Take care,

Sarah Chauncey

Book Cover

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  IndieBound  |  Bookshop

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Lisa Robinson is a therapist, picture book writer, and nature enthusiast. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts. Every summer her family travels to coastal Maine for two weeks. The highlight of the trip is a walk through Barred Island Preserve on Deer Isle. The animals and plants mentioned in her new children’s book, Forest Bath Right Down This Path, are all found there. Learn more about Lisa and her work at author-lisa-robinson.com.

Give Yourself Permission to Take Up Space

Dearest Friend,

We live in a world full of deadlines. Alarms. Screaming kids. Nagging bosses. More on our to-do lists than we could accomplish in three lifetimes. It’s easy for your needs to get buried underneath the rubble of daily life, and figuring out how to reconnect with your authentic self can feel touch and go… at best.

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Put down your phone, close your computer, and put your hand on your heart.

Breath deeply into your belly and ask yourself:

How do I feel?

What do I need?

What does my body need from me?

What is ONE, doable need that I am ready, able, and willing to meet?

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And repeat as necessary.

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