Two friends recently lost treasured horses. I don’t envy what they are going through right now. It’s never easy. I love all horses and have wept for the loss of even those that I have not had quite the connection with that I have shared with others. But then there are those who somehow touch your heart. Those horses are the ones who become a part of your family. It’s easy to recognize that they changed your life for the better.
It’s such a difficult subject that I’ve written about loss before. In an EQUUS magazine article first published in September 2016 I wrote about just some of the ways that I memorialized my treasured companion, Faax El Din. You can take a look at it by clicking this link, Well Remembered. I also wrote an earlier post about euthanasia in When is it time to say goodbye?
For this week’s post I thought to share some additional tips beyond what I have previously written about. By doing so I hope to ease some of the pain my friends are currently experiencing and also to help you should be facing a similar situation. Below are some of the ways that have helped me work through the grieving process.
If there is time, collect a lock of tail hair. I now have a couple of accessories made from Faax’s tail hair that are very dear to my heart. One is wrist bracelet while another is a necklace with a locket in which I have placed a small piece of tail hair. This helps me to feel as if I can always keep him close by and will likely help you to feel the same about your own special horse. It’s relatively easy to find someone to design your accessories and can be an inexpensive and last way to preserve a precious memory.
Commission a portrait. You might consider commissioning a portrait made from a favorite photograph or photographs suitable for hanging on a wall or displayed on a special table along with other memorabilia significant to your relationship with your horse. Shadow boxes displaying ribbons or perhaps dressage test score sheets lovingly displayed on your wall can become talking points when friends visit and help keep your horse’s memory alive.
Consider how your horse’s legacy will live on. A favorite youth mount might be memorialized with a scholarship while a rescued horse could best be remembered with a donation to a reputable equine rescue. Your dollars, donated in your horse’s name, could help a young person who might not otherwise have the opportunity to attend college or extend the life a horse who has fallen on difficult times. If your horse was registered or competed in a certain discipline you may also consider the sponsorship of a class at a horse show or to the breed registry itself. Such donations not only keep your horse’s memory alive but also allow these organizations to continue doing business.
Less dollars and more acts. Sometimes, remembering is less about the dollars and more about acts of kindness that help keep his memory alive. Volunteering at an equine event that we once frequented or volunteering to help a local 4-H Horse Project group are both ways that I have used to help deal with the loss.
Grief can be difficult to navigate but it is because of ways that I have outlined that I have been able to work my way through it and go on to have a relationship with another special horse.