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Morgan Berry Pet Bereavement Counsellor

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Morgan's Top 6 Tips on coping with Rabbit Loss

1. Am I crazy to hurt so much? HELP!

No, it is very normal to hurt. A lot of people will not understand your agony as they haven’t lost a rabbit. They haven’t lost your rabbit. A quick short term technique to help alleviate some of that hurt is distraction therapy. All you need is an empty room and a bee. Go into the room and sit in the middle of the floor with knees crossed. Assume a meditative position. You need to think of 10 things that make you happy. e.g cake, the smell of babies heads, caterpillars, new shoes, apricots, slugs, trampolines, fabric conditioner, snow and violins. Release the Bee. Keep repeating your 10 things out loud like a mantra, each time getting faster. Whilst reciting the list pay close attention to the sound of the buzzing bee, this will focus your mind into the present moment and help you to let go of the negative thoughts about your rabbit. Do this 1000 times. You could try reciting the list in different accents to make it more fun e.g Bengali, Welsh, Urdu. You should feel adequately distracted now with a smile on your face and better able to get on with your day without thinking of your rabbit.

2. What can I do about my feelings?

Well, give distraction therapy a try, if that doesn’t help, then the best and most effective remedy is going to be, seeing me live for a full session of Freedom Healing. I have improved so many people’s lives this way. It’s a very warm and interactive therapy that gives people hope through the shared experience of purging pain and grief within a group environment. If you can’t come and see me live because of your financial circumstances then ask a friend  to lend you the money, it will be best £10-20 you’ve ever spent. I say £10-20 as a ticket costs £10 and most people buy a bit of merchandise as well.

3. Should I stay during euthanasia?

No, you should celebrate by getting all the family together at the vets and host a rabbit party. Everyone should dress up: rabbit teeth, furry costumes, bunny ears and masks are all very cheap from joke and novelty shops. Bring party food, set up a trestle table and do some act outs of the good times you and your rabbit shared together e.g go outside, dig a hole, roll on the grass, binky (rabbit dance), sniff some benches, grind your teeth, rub noses and thump your leg in memory of your rabbit. You will always remember this day as a happy one, not a sad one. If there are tears then respond in true rabbit fashion, play hide and seek, take cover under a bush until you are found.

4. When should I tell my children?

If it’s in the week, busy at work and you’re feeling stressed out, then lie. Act as if nothing has happened. Wait for the weekend. Wrap the rabbit up in a towel and keep it in a shoe box with an onion to stop it smelling. Get an old sock (matching the colour of the rabbit) and stuff it full of newspaper, sew on a couple of dark rhinestones for eyes and cover it with saw dust, put a lock on the hutch, cover with a towel and act as if everything is normal. If they start asking questions like: why isn’t the rabbit moving or it looks like a sock with funny eyes tell them that they are not well and are hallucinating. When the time is right, sit them down and tell them the truth. This is a great lesson for children to experience as it serves as an early introduction to the notion of death and the harsh realities of life. If you have a badly behaved child it can help bring them back down to earth as it teaches them that nothing lasts forever. They should start being less disruptive as the sadness engulfs them. They will realise that life is precious and remind them of their own mortality.

5. Will my other pets grieve?

If you have pets other than rabbits, like a dog, cat or budgie, then the chances are, they will not grieve, unless for example your cat and rabbit were having an affair. Keep a close eye on your cat or other pet and if you notice any unusual behaviour such as wild tantrums or regular bouts of depression I suggest contacting a specialist that works exclusively with cats. Don’t give your cat anti depressants like prozac as it will only confuse it further. Consult with a cat psychologist before you administer any medication. If you had other rabbits then this can be a bit tricky as they will notice the absence of their beloved friend.  They are very social animals. All rabbits love one another and you should make sure it gets extra attention. Try talking to your rabbit about how you feel, don’t hold back in telling your rabbit what has happened. It will sense from your tone of voice and the way you are stroking it with your tremoring hand that something bad has happened. Treat your grieving rabbit to a spa day at home. Run a nice warm bath, treat it to a lovely slice of homemade carrot cake, cut their nails, floss their teeth and give it a deep soothing massage. After a day or so the grief will subside and your rabbit will come to terms with the death. They are a lot better than humans at moving on and detaching themselves. It’s in their genes to forget and move on, a bit like women and the pain of child birth.

6. Should I get a new pet right away?

So many people nowadays get a new pet far too soon. In my experience of living in Botswana and the effect rabbit bereavement had on my brothers and sisters I would always recommend people eat their rabbit before they buy a new one. There’s a saying in Botswana:

‘Achango Dum alang Bongo a Kinda Bowi’ which means:

If you eat your rabbit, you will have a piece of its soul that will live inside you forever.

I recommend the spatchcock technique to prepare your rabbit. Get a cleaver and butterfly your rabbit, removing the sternum allows the rabbit to be flattened. Marinade with your favourite spices and BBQ. If you prefer a more winter recipe then you can make a fine casserole. Why not try cutting off the ears and crisping them up in a light tempura batter. You could even make some tongue toast. These entrees are a great way to get the meal going as a delicious little hors-d'oeuvre and a great conversation starter as you begin to reminisce about all the great memories you and the family shared with your rabbit. After that I would wait at least a week before you introduce a new rabbit into the household.

Interesting Facts

Morgan once knew a man called
Michael Finnegan who had alopecia
from the neck up.

When rabbits express joy is it called Binky. They will run, jump into the air, twist their body and flick their feet. Lots of people think they are having a fit or a seizure, in fact they are having fun.