(FOX 2) - For many of us, furry friends are loyal companions and cherished family members. And when they pass it can be just as devastating as losing a person.
Mickey Golden Moore knows that pain and founded the support group Beyond the Paw Print when her two cats died within a month of each other at the age of 16.
She was grieving but says her friends were impatient and encouraged her to get over it, when what she really needed was for them to be patient, kind and quiet. To listen.
"In my search to find support for the grief I had over the death of my animals I ended up becoming the one to provide it," she says.
That turned into a support group that meets monthly to help others.
"This is a safe place to share their grief, their feelings of loss, love, lessons learned, a safe place where they find kinship and kindness in this caring community of people," she says.
'And iIt does work," says Ric Dryden. "After a while you start going to help the people that are suffering the way you were. Everybody's different but when we get there we're all the same. All the tears are saltwater, doesn't matter who you are."
Ric lost his dog Hershey but stays with the group to help others. They've now turned their experiences into a book to do just that, called Tails from Beyond the Paw Print.
Mickey also provided advice for parents whose children are grieving the loss of a pet: create a memory garden or photo album, hold a memorial service and request a clay mold of your pet's paw print. Those are just some of the ways to get beyond the paw print and start to heal.
"They're not alone. Their grief is real, their feelings are real and the relationship is worth remembering, talking about and processing the grief they experience," Mickey says.
For more information, visit www.beyondthepawprint.com.