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.
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
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.
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
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
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
information, please contact Rev. Evan Farrar, group facilitator, at
941-426-5580 or e-mail him at
firstname.lastname@example.org The group is named for Rev. Farrar’s
cat, Jacob, who died in January of 2003.