Three years ago, soon after I moved to Melbourne, Kam and I got our first pets together – two rambunctious little guinea pig brothers whom we named Guybrush and LeChuck (Monkey Island fans will get the reference). While growing up, our family often had two, four or a whole litter of guinea pigs in two backyard hutches and as an adult I still love how inquisitive, noisy and insatiably hungry these little fellows can be. While Whiskey (a Jack Russell x Border Collie) joined us a couple of years later, the guinea pigs were our first little adorable fur-babies.
It was with great horror then the other morning that I went to feed all the pets and found that LeChuck had died during the night. Lying on the bottom of their multi-level cage, I thought for a moment he was sleeping. Being a prey animal however, guinea pigs sleep with one eye open and are quick to move with any disturbance in their environment. I pet him gently, he was cold.
We said our goodbyes and disposed of LeChuck lovingly and appropriately that morning. Whiskey came bounding into the house after all of this and went straight to the cage. Then the frantic whimpering began and she tried to get into the cage, clawing at the wire door. She loves those guinea pigs. We cleaned out the cage and I made sure to check Guybrush for any signs on infection before I headed off to work. I had a rising fear I might come home to a second dead pet, but was relieved to find Guybrush happily devouring a carrot when I returned. At 3 years of age the guinea pigs are halfway through their life-cycle, but the suddenness of it all really hit us.
I never imagined I would cry so much when one of our pets passed; seeing Kam upset fueled it more. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re crazy for being upset when a pet passes. Pets are a part of our own family and our lives. Its totally normal to grieve for them and to experience an emotional outburst. It’s also normal for other pets in the house to suffer after the loss of an animal companion in the house; they need to be supported during their grief just like we do.
Flower essences can be deeply soothing and healing in times of grief and I mixed up some appropriate essences that would benefit both Kam and I as well as our other remaining two pets. Animals do grieve too, so it’s important to treat any other pets when administering remedies in the household. Flower essences are a very gentle form of treatment that heal emotional imbalances that affect our wellbeing and animals respond as strongly to their effects as we do. Made from an infusion or decoction of flowers in spring water, these powerful remedies help us deal with extreme emotional states such as fear, anger – or in this case, grief.
Kam and I took my chosen mix of essences internally for a few days to help bring about emotional balance. We also added a few drops to a spray bottle as a room spray to mist around the house and applied the mix topically to our dog and remaining guinea-pig to help them with the transition. For internal use we made a 25ml bottle with 1/3 brandy and 2/3 spring water, adding 7 drops of each of the Australian Bush Flower Essences and 5 drops of the Bach Flower Essences that were suitable.
Just as it is possible to make a dose bottle with several essences together, you can use essences from any brand of remedies available. It is however, not recommended to use more than 4-5 remedies at a time for maximum effectiveness. For internal use in animals, use only a spring water base with your chosen essences and store this mixture in the fridge.
Suitable Flower Essences for the Loss of a Pet
Australian Bush Flower Essences:
- Red Suva – Helps with the raw emotions that can occur when grieving, helps to heal a broken heart that feels it may never mend or love again.
- Waratah – Halts and repairs the potential that sadness may take hold and eventually evolve into despair.
- Bottlebrush – Facilitates the releasing of emotions of sadness loss by letting go of the loved one you are missing and grieving.
- Sturt Desert Rose – Aids you with dealing with guilt arising from the false belief you could have more or prevented what has happened. Stops you blaming yourself for the situation of wishing you were a better or more loving pet owner.
- Boronia – Helps when there is pining for the pet that has passed away. Particularly useful for pets in the household that are experiencing seperation anxiety after the death of another animal.
- Silver Princess – For despondence in humans and animals. Helps with the transitional period and to find hope and awareness with reawakened feelings of joy.
Bach Flower Essences:
- Water Violet – The ‘grief’ flower essence that helps you process all the feelings associated with grief (sadness, anger, denial) to prevent you creating unhealthy blockages. Allows you to fully experience and process the emotions of grief and may bring about teariness to help you release emotions over the death of a pet.
- Walnut – Helps in times of transition like the loss of a pet and allows humans and animals to ‘break the links’, release the pet who has passed on and be able to more easily move on with life.
- Star of Bethlehem – The remedy for shock and particularly useful when the death of a pet has been sudden or without warning. Comforts and soothes the individual after a great shock when there is emotional pain and suffering.
- Aspen – Useful for pets that display signs of anxiety following the death of a animal companion. Also helps humans that may have generalised fears for the safety or health of other pets in the household
- Pine – Releases guilt surrounding the death of a pet and those lamentations that you ‘could have helped them’, ‘should have known’ or ‘should have loved them more’. Releases self-blame and self-doubts over the situation.
- Beech – For pets or people who are grumpy, irritable or ‘snappy’ during the stressful grieving period. Increases tolerance of others and allows for the processing of true emotions in stressful situations.
- Honeysuckle – For humans and pets that are longing for their lost companions.
Flower Essence Dosage:
This is not an exact science and I tend to take essences 4 times daily, as well as adding some to my drinking water and using them as a room spray also. Use your chosen flower essences for two weeks, then reassess for suitability and make any alterations to the mix as necessary to take for another two weeks. The length of time it takes for the grieving process is different for every person (and animal).
- Australian Bush Flower Essences – Take 7 drops, under the tongue, on waking and retiring.
- Bach Flower Remedies – Take 4 drops, under the tongue, 4 times daily.
- When using a combination of two flower essence systems, I like to use the ABFE dosing guidelines.
Topical Use: A few drops can be rubbed into the skin (or fur for pets) or can be added to moisturing creams, lotions or baths.
Room Spray: Add several drops to a small spray/atomiser bottle silled with 10% brandy or vodka and 90% spring water. Spray throughout the house, over human and animal bedding as well as any areas the deceased animal used to frequent.
- The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy – Mechthild Scheffer
- Bach Flower Remedies: Form and Function – Julian Barnard
- Bach Flower Remedies for Animals – Helen Graham
- Australian Bush Flower Essences – Ian White
- Australian Bush Flower Healing – Ian White
- Animal Healing with Australian Bush Flower Essences – Marie Matthews