In Best Friends Forever, Debbie McLeod weaves together her own reflections on pet loss with real-life stories and poems collected from bereaved pet carers. The book is a powerful, practical guide that combines compassionate thoughts of loss with easy-to-grasp concepts aimed to help you process your grief and move through feelings that you might be struggling to express.
It’s clear that Debbie has a great affinity with animals and has experienced pet bereavement in her own life. The book takes an honest look at the anger, sadness and fear you may feel following the death of a pet.
However, although the book explores the difficult and often overwhelming emotions of grief, its real strength is its optimism. Debbie encourages us to recognise the unbreakable bonds formed with much-loved pets and how these bonds continue, even after death.
A spiritual journey
There is a deeply spiritual element to this book, which will be of great comfort to readers who believe or are looking for signs that our pets live on beyond their inevitable physical death.
Throughout the book, Debbie recalls the signs and messages that she and other bereaved pet carers have received from their deceased pets. In fact, Chapter 6: Whispers of Love is dedicated to examples of moments when the people interviewed for the book have felt the presence and reassurance of their departed animal companions.
Even if you don’t believe in any kind of afterlife, there is still plenty in Best Friends Forever that will resonate. Debbie talks beautifully about how the love we feel for a pet lives on inside of us, as well as in our memories or by shaping the path our life takes.
Validating all pet loss grief and experiences
This book will offer comfort to bereaved pet carers from all walks of life. Whether you’ve suffered the trauma of having to rehome a pet or having a pet go missing or you’ve lost an elderly pet, there will be someone in the book who has shared a similar experience.
There are also examples of people grieving for dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, hamsters and gerbils. Any type of loss is treated with equal sensitivity and compassion.
Debbie explores how the loss of a pet can sometimes tap into other bereavements in our lives that we perhaps haven’t dealt with. Several of the pet carers shared with her about losing a parent and only starting to grieve for them when their pet died.
Pet loss poems and reflective exercises
The poems that punctuate the key points covered in Best Friends Forever are powerful and moving. Written by the interviewed pet carers or by Debbie but with the carers’ approval, each one is a beautiful testament to the animal that inspired it. You can almost feel the unique personality of each pet surrounding you as you read each poem. The verses also provide a shorthand into the different experiences of grief.
Another strength of the book is the reflective exercises at the end of each chapter. These exercises encourage us, as bereaved pet carers, to sit with and acknowledge our feelings rather than attempting to bury them. Debbie gives ideas for helpful activities such as journaling, meditations and reflective questions to help you process your grief.
Reading this book, the message that stands out is that love and grief are both parts of the same whole. In other words, whenever there is deep love in life, deep feelings of grief will be experienced. The truth is that love – even with the risk of loss – is what makes life worth living.
A quote from David Henry Thoreau introduces Chapter 7; “There is no remedy for love, but to love more”.
And that’s the essence of Best Friends Forever. Debbie encourages us to see death and grief as part of a bigger picture, an unavoidable but essential element of life, and a transition rather than an end. We will come through our grief changed from the people we were before our loss but that change will be shaped by the unconditional love, trust and kindness given to us by our pets. The love we feel lives on.
Best Friends Forever is available for purchase on Amazon.
Author Debbie McLeod runs a Facebook group dedicated to Spirituality and Pets. This supportive group focuses on the wisdom, healing and teachings our pets bring us whether on this Earthly Plane or in Spirit.
You can also find out more about Debbie at https://www.debbiemcleod.co.uk/