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Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter By E.B. Bartels

Publisher: Harper Collins

Interviewed by Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today / Animal Emotions

Good Grief for Pets
Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter
Available from
ISBN: 0358212332
ISBN13: 9780358212331

About the Author:

E.B. BARTELS is a nonfiction writer, a former Newtonville Books bookseller, and a GrubStreet instructor, with an MFA from Columbia. Her writing has been published in Catapult, The Rumpus,The Millions, and The Toast. She lives in Massachusetts. 


Living with various companion animals often ends with the loss of our good friends. E.B. Bartels's new book Good Grief: On Loving Pets, Here and Hereafter, offers a personal collection of stories as well as historical and global perspectives about loving and losing these sentient beings and how to grieve them when they've moved on. It is a wonderful read that offers a number of valuable lessons, the central one being, "...there is no best practice when it comes to mourning your pet, except to care for them in death as you did in life, and find the space to participate in their end as fully as you can."

As I read Good Grief, I thought about another interview I did, with Rev. Sarah Bowen, about her book Sacred Sendoffs: An Animal Chaplain’s Advice For Surviving Animal Loss, Making Life Meaningful, & Healing The Planet By Rev. Sarah Bowen. Both books go hand in hand.

Here's what E.B. had to say about her deeply personal and thoughtful book.

Marc Bekoff: Why did you write Good Grief?

E.B Bartels: I became interested in understanding more about rituals and practices surrounding pet death because I’m someone who has had a lot of pets, and, unfortunately, those pets always die in the end. Good Grief started as an essay I wrote about the betta fish I had in college. I workshopped it in my MFA program, and a friend in that workshop said kind of casually how it could be interesting to add research to the essay—how people in other cultures and communities mourn their pets, since there isn’t one universal method to do so—and I started to look into the topic and fell into a black hole. I quickly realized this was a lot bigger than one essay. There are so many amazing, creative, and special ways that people grieve and celebrate their pets. This book is just the beginning.



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