Publication Date: June 13, 2023
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A powerful collection of quotations by writers, leaders, and legends on the pain of losing a pet and overcoming grief.
An animal’s love is deep, uncomplicated, unconditional, and forgiving. “Affection without ambivalence” is how Sigmund Freud described the connection. “No matter how awful the day, or how awful I am behaving at any given moment, George doesn’t care,” writes journalist John Dickerson. “He finds me smoldering in my chair and dashes to my lap.” Our lives are intricately intertwined with our pets, and together, over time, we establish rituals that are as steady as a metronome. It’s no wonder the grief is crushing when they depart—even those who’ve had time to prepare describe feeling stunned, devastated, and cracked in two.
“We were a bit broken up over the death of our black Persian cat,” crime novelist Raymond Chandler confessed. “When I say a bit broken up, I am being conventional. For us it was a tragedy.” Nobel Prize–winning author V. S. Naipaul described the experience as “calamitous,” and writer May Sarton called it a “volcanic eruption of woe.” Poet Emily Dickinson was so bereft she asked for help: “Carlo died,” she announced in a letter to her friend Thomas Wentworth Higginson in 1866. “Would you instruct me now?”
The Book of Pet Love and Loss is a collection of quotations—poignant thoughts and memories discovered in letters, journals, diaries, memoirs, and other original sources—from beloved cultural figures who understood this singular experience so deeply, they felt compelled to write about it. This book dignifies the profound connection we share with our animal companions, but it also provides solace as mourners document their heartache over the loss of their cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, and other animals—even, in the case of Pablo Neruda, a mongoose. Their comforting and wise words are what every animal lover needs on this journey of heartbreak and healing.
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