t-com:vml" xmlns:o="urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" xmlns="http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40"> Jacob Circle
North Port Community
United Church of Christ
Jacob's Circle
A Support Group for People Grieving the Death of a Pet


Jacob’s Circle 

A Support Group for People Grieving the Death of a Pet

Did your pet recently die?
Having trouble getting over the death of an animal you loved?
If so, we invite you to join us for Jacob’s Circle a pet grief support group.

Jacob's Circle supports church members grieving a pet's death

The Rev. Evan Farrar learned something after his cat died in January 2003. "I realized how [the death of a companion animal] is not addressed as a legitimate spiritual issue and grieving concern," he says. "Even ministers, colleagues whom I love and respect, would say, 'Oh, it's just your cat?'"

When Farrar was called to serve North Port (Fla.) Community UCC earlier this year, he was determined to start his own support group for people grieving the death of a pet. Jacob's Circle, named for Farrar's cat, meets the last Thursday of each month.

The support group is intentionally a community outreach, so Farrar keeps the meetings interfaith. Forming a circle around the altar, attendees bring pictures of their pets and are invited to light a candle in his or her memory. Attendees introduce themselves and tell about their pets, or any issues they might be having since the death of the pet. Farrar leaves time for silent prayer, and reads a responsive litany he wrote about animals and loss. In addition, "Animal Rites: Liturgies of Animal Care," by Andrew Linzey (The Pilgrim Press, 1999) provides spiritual and uplifting readings to share at the Jacob's Circle meetings.

Farrar's support group has gotten the attention of a nearby humane society, which has asked him to start a Jacob's Circle for their volunteers and employees who often suffer feelings of loss when an animal dies or is adopted. Farrar is glad to oblige.

"Pet grief support groups can only happen, I think, if you're not worried about steady, regular numbers," explains Farrar. "Sometimes nobody will show up, sometimes you'll have 10. This is just something I do no matter what. Even if it's just me that shows up, then I'm remembering and honoring the cat that I loved so much." Farrar also offers individual counseling time for those who want to talk about the loss of a companion animal.

"I believe that if people can see and appreciate the spirituality of animals, then in some way they're appreciating the mystery of God and the mystery that is in all of creation," says Farrar. "Embracing that mystery is so important."

In Jacob’s Circle we talk about our deceased pets, what they meant to us, and how we can move on in our lives without them.  It is a group that celebrates the spiritual blessing of companion animals of all kinds.

In honor of Jacob's Circle this week, I share the following thought for reflection from Praying with Katie:  God, My Cat, and Me written by Don Holt.  The book is written about a cat named Katie and the spiritual lessons she teaches her human companions. We are reading portions of this book at Jacob's Circle.  This quote has an interesting take on the issue of persistence in prayer which ties in to our scripture lesson this week.

"Katie keeps after us early in the morning.  We brush her off and she comes back.  We push her away and she returns.  We hide our heads under the covers and she walks on top of us, purring ferociously.  And do we mind?  We do not.  At least not usually.  If we minded we would shut the door and keep her out of the bedroom.  We don't do that.  Rather, we enjoy her attentiveness, her presence, her persistence, not matter that it interrupts our sleep.  If she enjoys our company that much, losing a little sleep is a small price to pay for her affection.  I wonder if God feels about me the way I feel about Katie?  Does God leave the door open at night, welcoming the time when I will wake up and want to play?  Should I keep after Him/Her when I feel pushed away, when God seems to be hiding from me?  Katie persists in her dawn petitions-and I like it.  I think God may likewise enjoy my persistence."


First time visitors are welcome as are people of all faith and spiritual traditions.  Everyone is encouraged to bring a picture of his or her pet(s).

So, if you are someone struggling with the grief of a lost pet, please join us.  You don’t have to suffer alone!

Jacob’s Circle is held from 7:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. the last Thursday of every month at North Port Community United Church of Christ, 3450 S. Biscayne Drive, off US Hwy 41.  Next Meeting: March 25th

For additional information, please contact Rev. Evan Farrar, group facilitator, at 941-426-5580 or e-mail him at northportpastor@wmconnect.com   The group is named for Rev. Farrar’s cat, Jacob, who died in January of 2003. 



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