In the last of our series of mini-interviews with friends of The Ralph Site we heard from Christine Hallworth, who has given us some wise words of advice for anyone experiencing the loss of a much-loved companion.
1. Do you currently share your home with any pets? If so, please tell us about them.
I have three beautiful cats – Alfie, Phoebe and George. Alfie and Phoebe are sixteen-month-old brother and sister, who we adopted from a rescue centre at the end of April after losing my precious Ollie to kidney disease in February this year. They had been born at the rescue centre in June 2016 and were homed together when they were eight weeks old. Sadly for them, they had been returned to the centre a few days before we saw them because of a relationship breakdown, but we fell in love with them both immediately!
A few days later, after a home check, they came to live with us. After hiding under the bed for the first hour they soon ventured out to eat and have very much made themselves at home ever since. We adopted George from the same centre in August this year – he is a cute, mischievous little black and white longhaired boy who loves his ‘big brother’ Alfie and is kept in line by his ‘big sister’ Phoebe! Together they have made our house a home again, after the devastating loss of Ollie who had been in our lives for eleven and a half years.
2. What was the name of your first pet?
3. Why did you choose the name?
He was named Donny after my favourite singer at the time, Donny Osmond!
4. Cats, dogs, or another species? Can you choose?! And why?
Despite being brought up in a mainly dog-loving family, I have always loved cats for their beauty, independence and unique personalities.
5. What is your favourite memory of an animal who has shared your life?
My favourite memories will always be of spending time with Ollie, as the very grateful recipient of his ‘head bumps and nose kisses’ that we shared most days. I will cherish those memories, and love and miss Ollie until the day I die.
6. Which three words would you choose to describe him?
Although three words are not enough to describe Ollie, I would choose loyal, loving and unforgettable.
7. What is your favourite fictional animal and why?
Definitely Winnie the Pooh, because he is cute and cuddly!
8. If you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why?
If I could be any animal I would be a cat – they are independent but love their comfort (as I do!) and they are loyal when they find someone who truly loves them.
9. What advice would you give to someone who is grieving for a much-loved pet?
Allow yourself to grieve in the way which is right for you, ignore anyone who tries to tell you ‘it’s only an animal’, be kind to yourself and give yourself as much time as you need to grieve for your loved one. Try and find like-minded people who really understand and will help you to cope.
10. When and how did you come across The Ralph Site? What do you think is the most important role of The Ralph Site community?
My husband, desperate to find a way to help me with my overwhelming grief as a result of losing Ollie, told me about The Ralph Site. Everyone else thought I was over it after a couple of weeks, but he could see that I was constantly in tears when we were at home and I wasn’t sleeping. Jim had phoned our vets for some advice and was told about The Ralph Site.
The most important thing was finding out that I’m not alone in my overwhelming grief; after having felt so alone, to be able to read all these comments from people who felt the same way I do was a revelation. Suddenly I could ‘talk’ to people who really understood my feelings of guilt, sorrow and sadness.
I now know it’s OK to say that I still cry every day for Ollie (including whilst I’m writing this), and probably always will. There is no time limit on grief, and losing Ollie has been as bad, if not worse, as losing my parents and best friend.
The Ralph Site community is always there for anyone to express their feelings and make them feel that they are understood – it has probably saved me from a lot more heartbreak in my own life.
This is the last in our series of mini-interviews with members of The Ralph Site community for the time being. We hope that you have enjoyed hearing from some of the members and feel a little closer to one another.
Until next time, very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support