Fifth in a series of “pet loss and grief told from personal experience”
The loss of a pet brings a profound change to our life and our self, no matter what we do or who we are, but sometimes the loss and how we deal with it opens a door inspires us to make a change in our lifestyle or job, or to follow through with a life dream.
The change may not be something related to the pet who was lost or to animals in general, it may just be that the need to change our surroundings in response to grief spurs us to keep going with that change and before we know it we’ve come up with an entirely new way of thinking or living.
And then the change may be all about the pet who was lost, and we may also have the product of an immense creative effort inspired by that pet.
So it was for Ingrid King, author of Buckley’s Story: Lessons of a Feline Master Teacher. From her loss of Buckley, a joyful and affectionate tortoiseshell cat who was diagnosed with heart disease after only two years, came an entire book, written immediately after Buckley’s passing.
I met Ingrid King at the Cat Writer’s Association annual conference in November 2009 and heard her speak about her book. Since then it has received glowing reviews in the pet and pet loss industries.
Most of us have had more than one pet, and while we love them all we could probably each say that one of them was special in some way, an angel come to teach us a lesson, leaving us enriched in a way no other relationship ever could.
For Ingrid, Buckley was that angel who taught Ingrid how to live a joyful life even as Buckley slowly yielded to her heart disease. That relationship was powerful enough for Ingrid to write the book she had always intended to write, with Buckley as its subject.
Here, Ingrid tells how her career wandered around, forming into a helping, healing profession until Buckley joined, then left her life. She began writing in the midst of her grief, with a goal of having the book available to others by the first anniversary of Buckley’s passing, like a promise kept.
By: Ingrid King
I have been an avid reader all my life. My parents encouraged me to read at an early age. I remember weekly trips to the library with my mother – I would be allowed to pick out three or four books each week, and they never seemed to last for the entire week. Even back then, I remember thinking how cool it would be to write my own book. As a teenager, I kept journals, and there was even an attempt at fiction, or rather, romantic fiction, about a soccer player I had a crush on. Thankfully, that creation disappeared somewhere along the way during one of my moves either from my parents’ house to college, or to my first home – I can only imagine how reading it now would make me cringe in embarrassment.
The dream of writing a book never completely died, but life got in the way. There were always excuses – I was too busy, I had a full time job, I didn’t really know what I wanted to write about. Forget that I didn’t know what I wanted to write about – I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up! I started my professional life by translating manuals for a computer manufacturer. Then I wrote and translated ad copy for a magazine about diesel and gas turbines. After that, I tried being a travel agent for a while. Eventually, I ended up working at a financial services corporation, beginning as a receptionist and working my way up into middle management. After fifteen years in corporate America, I had enough, and started to pursue discovering my true passion. For the next twelve years, I worked in various facets of the veterinary profession. I loved it. I did everything from cleaning cages to answering phones to giving injections and placing catheters. Eventually, I managed a veterinary hospital for eight years before starting my own business, Healing Hands, which provides Reiki treatments for pets and people. As part of marketing Healing Hands, I began to write and publish an online newsletter titled News for You and Your Pet, and I discovered how much I really love writing. My thoughts turned to writing a book again.
And then, along came Buckley. Suddenly, I had a subject so compelling that all the excuses that had stopped me from writing a book before fell away, and Buckley’s Story was born. Buckley passed away Thanksgiving weekend of 2008, and I began writing the book in January of 2009. Rather than going the traditional publishing route, I choose to self-publish. It was important to me to get her story out to the world in time for the first anniversary of her passing. I thoroughly investigated all the options. I knew that I wanted more than just a vanity press. I wanted mainstream distribution for the book, and I wanted the book to look really good. After months of research, I choose iUniverse. They offer what is considered assisted self-publishing. I had professional help all along the way – from content editing to copy editing to cover design to interior design, and since my book received an Editor’s Choice and Rising Star designation from iUniverse, I even receive marketing support. I could not have been happier with my experience with them.
I finished writing Buckley’s Story in May 2009. I’m often asked how I was able to write the book in such a short period of time. I wanted to capture the raw emotion without letting time dissipate the impact. Once I started writing, the book almost wrote itself. It was like something greater than myself flowed through me. It was inspiration, but it was more than that, too. And Buckley most definitely had a paw in it, too.
Publishing Buckley’s Story is the single most important achievement of my life to date. The moment when I held the first copy of the book in my hands was one of indescribable joy. Making a lifelong dream come true is heady stuff – and it’s even more meaningful to me because by publishing Buckley’s Story, I get to share her story with the world – a story about the important role animals play in our lives by teaching us universal lessons about opening the heart and living a joyful life.
NOTE: If you’re on Facebook, join Ingrid for a live chat January 21 at 8pm Eastern on the Buckley’s Story Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/buckleysstory! She’ll answer questions about the book, writing, cats, and anything else you’d like to chat about. Click on the “Discussions” tab to join in.
And visit Ingrid’s blog to read articles she’s written about pet loss and grief and other topics of interest to pet owners.
Ingrid King is the author of Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher. A former veterinary hospital manager turned writer, she publishes the E-zine “News for You and Your Pet,” covering topics ranging from conscious living to holistic and alternative health. She shares her experiences with consciously creating a joyful, happy and healthy life for pets and people on her popular blog, “The Conscious Cat.” Ingrid lives in Northern Virginia with her tortoiseshell cat Amber. For more information about Buckley’s Story and about Ingrid, please visit http://www.facebook.com/l/61d4b;www.ingridking.com .
Next in this series: Pet Loss Support Information: ideas and resources for where to find comfort and support in your loss, including books about and inspired by the author’s personal experience
Pet loss and grief told from personal experience
When I was losing a pet and making decisions, and after I had lost a pet and was dealing with grief, I was most comforted by hearing stories from others about their experiences. Sitting with one of my cats in the middle of the night, trying to determine if they were suffering in any way, if they were ready to let go, struggling to make the decision about euthanasia and what to do after they died, I felt so alone and only hearing what others had experienced and what they had decided helped me put my own situation and decisions into perspective, and let me know that I was not the only person to experience the anguish I was suffering. I’ve composed this series of articles in the hopes that others find comfort in my experiences and those of the others mentioned here, and that information included about services and products may help them in their decisions.
Read the other articles in this series:
To love that well, which thou must leave ‘ere long: my first and worst lesson in pet loss
Starting with pet loss—before the loss: begin preparing yourself for loss by being proactive about care and providing palliative care yourself at home
Options for “After Care”, featuring Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation: aftercare, and a profile of a business and a person I find exceptional, and exceptionally comforting
Heal Your Heart After Pet Loss, a Remarkable CD and Guidebook: your grieving process, and a very special CD and guidebook for those times when you need a comforting voice
Turning Loss into Creativity with Ingrid King and Buckley’s Story: how grief can become the catalyst for change, turning grief into a creative effort
Pet Loss Support Information: ideas and resources for where to find comfort and support in your loss, including books about and inspired by the author’s personal experience
Pet Love and Pet Loss, and How it Gave Me My Art: my own experience turning multiple losses loss into multiple creative endeavors
About the images used in this post
With the exception of the cover image of Buckley’s Story and the photo of Ingrid King, all of the images used here are of my cats, my inspirations and muses. I sell prints and notecards of all of them. It’s one of the things that helps me with losing them, to know that their image goes out in the world and they are thereby, in a way, immortal. To see the art visit my website and look under “Fine Art and Portraiture” for the gallery, “My Cats“. Also look under “Photography” for the five galleries of “My Cats“. You can browse prints and notecards in my “Marketplace“.