Guiding Pet Parents through the Loss of a Pet | Griffin’s Heart

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ANIMAL INNOVATIONS SHOW - EPISODE 67 - REAGAN PASTERNAK

Guiding Pet Parents through the Loss of a Pet | Griffin’s Heart

For pet parents, the loss of a pet can be especially devastating. 

Take it straight from Reagan Pasternak, an actress born in Canada but currently living in Los Angeles, whose grief for her dog led her to write a book that would become the first interactive guide to pet loss.

“I think that there’s so much to learn from grief. There’s so much to learn from losing anyone we love, and we can’t just put it behind us and pretend everything’s fine and move on.”

Griffin’s Heart: Mourning Your Pet With No Apologies

A huge animal lover who’s been involved in foster and rescue for many years, Reagan felt the blow when her soulmate animal and best friend, Griffin, passed away over ten years ago.

reagan pasternak griffin's heart story

She shared,

“I realized that each loss is different, whether it’s human or animal. There’s an incomplete feeling when we lose somebody we love, right? And I wanted to fill that feeling and maybe work through that feeling.”

To help her process the devastation she felt, she started setting aside part of her mornings to write down her experience and the memories she shared with Griffin, celebrating his life.

Before she knew it, her writings had turned into a journal and a keepsake that allowed her to navigate the awful feeling she had when she lost her dog.

“When I would write, every morning, when I would start, I would calm myself, calm my body down, and just think, ‘What is the purpose of this?’ And it was to connect to whoever is reading the book and…most of the time, I was connecting to myself because I was so lost. This was not like, ‘Oh, I’m going to write a book about animal grief.’ I needed to write the book about animal grief because I am feeling it,”

Reagan said.

griffin's heart website on the loss of a pet

Healing from Your Pet Loss with Griffin’s Heart

According to Reagan,

“When you are a real animal lover, you kind of know that they don’t belong to you, or if they do, you also belong to them. And so, I call them ‘beings’ throughout the book because I didn’t know how to kind of encompass how much they mean to us. And, yeah, they are family members. Sometimes, they’re the most important family member. So, when they go, you feel lost.”

It’s for this reason that she hoped readers, who went through the same heartache she experienced, can find comfort, hope, wisdom, and healing from “Griffin’s Heart”.

griffin's heart by reagan pasternak journal

A memoir, journal, and keepsake all in one, “Griffin’s Heart” seeks to become a comprehensive resource that helps pet moms and dads process their grief. It approaches the concept of grief from many angles, encouraging readers to participate by examining their emotions, creating a tribute to their pet, and commemorating their cherished animal.

“We’ve gotten great reviews…but the best for me are the (private) messages I’m getting from readers… Just people telling me that the book is helping them, and really telling me I’m like a friend. And that has been overwhelming. It’s better than I could have ever felt because I know I needed that at the time. And so, if I can do that for somebody, that’s just better than that,”

Reagan shared, closing the podcast.

 

 

Learn more about Griffin’s Heart!

Check out their website at https://griffinsheart.com/.

Have suggestions for who we should interview next?

Send us a message at [email protected]!

Reagan: Hi there, I’m Reagan Pasternak, and you’re tuning in to The Animal Innovations Show.

Chris: Excellent introduction, Reagan. So, tell us who you are and how you’re innovating and helping animals.

Reagan: My name is Reagan Pasternak. I am an actress. Born in Canada. I live in Los Angeles now, and I am a huge animal lover as well and have been involved in rescue for it feels like a million years.

Yeah, and I’ve written a book called, Griffin’s Heart – Mourning Your Pet With No Apologies. It’s a memoir. It’s my experience, but it’s also a journal. It’s also a keepsake.

It’s just a way to kind of navigate that awful feeling, that we get when we lose— especially that special animal, you know, the one that— your heart animal. I’ve heard it called, “Your soulmate animal,” would I say.

It was a passion project and— it’s here and came to fruition. And people are actually reading it, which feels crazy to me, but a lot of people are—are needing that kind of solace, it seems.

Chris: So, tell us a little bit more, because what I really love about this is— it’s not just a book, right? It’s not a book I read and go, “That was nice,” and I put it up on the shelf.

It’s really— it’s immersive, it’s involving. It’s meant to be something that I’m sharing and keeping. So, tell people more about how it works.

Reagan: Gosh, when I first started writing it, I was writing about my experiences. I didn’t know it was going to be a book. I just wanted to write, and I wanted to navigate it myself.

I couldn’t find the resources that I needed really, to mourn Griffin, and the pain wasn’t really going away. So, I kept writing my findings and journaling basically and celebrating his life. I started just really kind of leaning into the pain.

And gradually, I knew it was going to be a book, but I knew that wasn’t it. And it’s interesting now to look at and think about that process—And—I felt that— once I started realizing I wanted it to be, a way to commemorate— basically writing your memories down, and you’re getting back to the love part instead of the pain part, and honoring your animal.

And there’s—the middle— the book is split into three parts. The middle part is called, ‘Proactive Healing,’ and that’s where there’s a lot of art therapy, and music therapy, and just kind of just opening your mind, to different ways of remembering your animal. And, oh, it’s so cool because I’m getting messages from people now, who are saying, “I never thought it was a poet.”

And then they’ll send me a poem that they wrote for their animal, and I’ll be bawling my eyes out in the kitchen being like, by the way, you’re a poet.

Chris: Yeah, it’s really cool

Reagan: It’s just grief is so weird. Eventually, I realized I wanted the book to be a keepsake, and for the people not listening, and watching— I’m holding it in my hands and there’s a case, it comes in a case, so, that you’re putting photos, notes, whatever you have inside the book, and it’s safe and you can put it in there.

And then there’s even a back pocket for anything leftover that you have. I have sympathy cards in here for— my dog, the past.

See, I always cry when I say this—

And I wrote every reader a postcard just with myself and Griffin,  and it’s full of stuff in the back of this pocket, Because I use my own book, when I lose animals.

I lost an amazing dog this year.

So, I wanted some way to kind of make a reader feel that I am your friend. I’m sitting with you. We’re hanging out. We’re commiserating. We’re remembering the fun, good parts, and the hard parts.

And at the end, when you’re finished, you’ve created your own book, your own keepsake.

Chris: Do you mind telling us a little bit about Griffin, and what made him so special?

Reagan: Griffin was my first. I grew up with animals always. But he was my first pet or whatever you want to call it being as an adult.

He was a Devon Rex. And he— this was before I really understood, how important it was to rescue and not buy.

And Griffin dying at 7 and a half is probably a testament to that. Because he— now, Devon Rex’s are incredible cats. 

I mean, I’m on the rescue site nonstop, trying to wait for one to become up for adoption because they’re brilliant. They’re like half monkey, half dog. And Griffin was exactly that.

He was incredibly connected to me, so intelligent. He did all the tricks he would sit, he would give paw. He was just a wonderful, sweet being.

But I also think part of it was that you know, he was— he was my first responsibility as an adult, my first living responsibility. And he traveled across from Canada to Los Angeles with me. I took him to every job I went. He was always on planes and was so cool and chill.

I was just connected to him. It’s funny. We have a very good friend that said something like, “He would look at you just like he knows.” he knows.

And I don’t know how else really to explain. He was just a wonderful creature. And so when he died, it was a huge, huge void. And I had so much guilt.

I felt so responsible for not seeing signs of heart failure earlier. How could I have? But even now, I really work hard on guilt with everything. But sometimes it’s hard. It’s hard to completely shake it. And I tried my best.

We did everything we could for him, and he was just going to die. He was just amazing. I don’t know how else to say it. He taught me so much about love, and unconditional love, and what I really needed in my life.

And yeah, I’ll be forever grateful to him in that kind of pure, sweet, love. He’ll have an impact for many years to come.

Chris: Where can people learn more about it. Where can they buy the book? How can they go on the journey?

Reagan: So, we’re on Amazon and we have GRIFFINSHEART.COM. If you don’t want to shop on Amazon, you can go either one of those.

And yeah, we’re also at an animal grief store called: My Faithful Friends. So, any of those were on there and I’m on Instagram.

I would love, love to hear from people, even if you don’t have the book. I just love hearing these stories of people who are reaching out, and sharing their animal and their stories.

So yeah, I’m at REAGANPASTERNAK.COM That’s my regular site.

And then we’ve started a cyber memorial, for people who are sending me their photos. And that’s @GRIFFINSHEARTBOOK on Instagram as well.

We also have a huge, huge community on Facebook. That’s where the thousands and thousands of people have been—writing and, oh, gosh, it’s lovely.

So, you can find us all those places.

Chris: Reagan, I really appreciate you coming on and sharing your story.

And definitely, I hope people take the time to do the book, and do the journey and really celebrate, the importance that these animals bring to our lives. So, thank you for doing that.

And as we wrap things up, I’ll remind our viewers and listeners, if you’ve got an amazing story like Reagan, a product, or service, or even just an idea, go to INNOVATIONS.SHOW and let us know about it. We’d love to have you on the show.

So, thanks again Reagan and I appreciate it.

Reagan: Thank you so much.

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