Katara loves crochet blankets. And I love her. I hope that I have her in my life for many, many years to come!
Pets do so much for our lives, benefitting us in so many ways, comforting us and providing us with unconditional love. I had done pet therapy volunteering through SFSPCA, visiting people in need in a number of settings, so I have been lucky to get to see firsthand how the care of an animal can be truly and deeply healing for people of all ages and from all walks of life. More than this, my own dog, Katara, is truly one of my best friends and I’ve loved developing a deeply compassionate reciprocal relationship with her. (I highly recommend the book Bones Would Rain from Sky to anyone interested in deepening their relationship with their dog!)
There are a lot of great crochet patterns for pets out there. It is certainly always fun to dress up our animals and see how cute they look in our handmade creations. We can also crochet for animals that are living in shelters as an act of handmade charity. This makes their lives a bit more comfortable and helps make the shelter environment feel better for staff and volunteers, too. You’ll find a lot of information about this type of crochet for pets. However, what you won’t see a lot of is information about crocheting through the terrible grief of losing a beloved pet.
Yarndermy Art Dog by Troy Emery
Crochet can help us through grief of all types. It is healing and soothing and gives our minds something to focus on instead of ruminating over and over about our pain. People who haven’t been close with a pet may not understanding the depth of this grief. It can be overlooked or dismissed, which makes it even more painful for the person who is going through that. Losing a pet is hard and often there just isn’t community support to help us through this grief. We must practice self-care to cope as we handle the loss. Crochet can help us to do that. You’ll find a full article about this over at Lion Brand, where I’ve written about how crocheting for animals can heal us.
A dog silhouette crochet art piece that I made for charity
In brief, here are some tips to help you as you crochet through the grief process:
- Make a special crochet item for the pet. The article mentioned above has suggestions of items that you might like to crochet for your pet’s burial, urn or commemoration. You could also use a photograph and graphing tools to create a filet crochet or tapestry crochet portrait of your pet. Donya Coward, who I profiled in a post about crochet “taxidermy”, is a crochet artist who does commissioned three-day sculpture portraits of people’s pets. The idea here is to use crochet to commemorate your lost pet in a really special, lasting way.
- Make something special for yourself. A comforting item for yourself, such as a lapghan or crochet shawl, is something you can wrap around yourself to feel that yarn hug as you acknowledge your own grief process. It is one way to practice self-care in the face of this difficult loss.
- Create a sacred space for your pet crafting. You might want to lie down on your dog’s old bed or you may set up photos of your animal in your craft area. Bring your lost loved one into the space where you create.
- Craft with intention. You might typically crochet or knit with TV on or an audio book going. However, you’ll really benefit emotionally if you set aside the distractions during this particular crafting project. Really sit with your grief. Remember the times you had with your pet. Accept your sadness.
- Let the emotions come and craft through them. Get angry. Cry. Do whatever you need to do to process your feelings. Realize that there will be waves of different emotions for some time to come. Keep knitting or crocheting, allowing the rhythm of the work to heal you even as the emotions swell.
- Craft with your kids. This is a great opportunity for you all to be together giving life to something new in a difficult time for the family. Open the space up as a place to talk about your feelings of grief but don’t force the issue. Just be together, making. The rest will come.
There are many different stages of grief. Crochet can be a helpful part of working through each of them. It can be something consistent that you have for yourself in the face of difficulty of all different kinds. Turn to it if you can as you process the loss of a loved pet.