GOOD GRIEF: ON LOVING PETS, HERE AND HEREAFTER
“Good Grief is just what the doctor ordered—a wonderful, unusual, and healing book, full of wisdom and compassion. Nothing can erase the searing sorrow of losing an animal you love. But this insightful, inspiring, intelligent book will offer real comfort. E.B. Bartels’ extensive and fascinating research reveals deep and transformative truths about the essential process of grieving. Read this book to affirm that love never dies, and you are not alone.”
—Sy Montgomery, New York Times bestselling author of How to Be a Good Creature
“Good Grief is a tender and often funny guide that celebrates the imaginative and far-fetched and entirely ordinary ways we grieve, celebrate, and memorialize—and, yes, sometimes try to preserve—our departed pets. While author E.B. Bartels provides arcane and fascinating details of mummification, cloning, taxidermy, and freeze drying, the heart of Good Grief lies in the profound lessons our animal companions provide—both in life and in death.”
—Cat Warren, author of What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science, and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World
Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter is an unexpected, poignant, and personal account of loving and losing pets, exploring the singular bonds we have with our companion animals, and how to grieve them once they’ve passed.
E.B. Bartels has had a lot of pets—dogs, birds, fish, tortoises. As varied a bunch as they are, they’ve taught her one universal truth: to own a pet is to love a pet, and to own a pet is also—with rare exception—to lose that pet in time.
But while we have codified traditions to mark the passing of our fellow humans, most cultures don’t have the same for pets. Bartels takes us from Massachusetts to Japan, from ancient Egypt to the modern era, in search of the good pet death. We meet veterinarians, archaeologists, ministers, and more, offering an idiosyncratic, inspiring array of rituals—from the traditional (scattering ashes, commissioning a portrait), to the grand (funereal processions, mausoleums), to the unexpected (taxidermy, cloning). The central lesson: there is no best practice when it comes to mourning your pet, except to care for them in death as you did in life, and find the space to participate in their end as fully as you can.
Punctuated by wry, bighearted accounts of Bartels’s own pets and their deaths, Good Grief is a cathartic companion through loving and losing our animal family.