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Herbal Remedies for Stressed Pets

Signs of stress in your furry companion can manifest as behavioral and physical problems that have their roots in emotional trauma.
Just like with humans, mental and emotional upsets in animals can have deep and lasting physical and behavioral effects.

Animals Share Our Emotions

Animals are known to reflect the emotional state of their owners. So, if you are feeling stressed or anxious there is a very good chance the animals you live with will connect with your emotional energy and are likely to be feeling and sharing this with you. Often, an animals’ stress, anxiety or traumatic emotional state can be seen as behavioral changes such as depression, timidity, biting, aggression or other destructive behaviors. For some animals the slightest change in their environment such as loud noise can be enough to trigger a response to their traumatic and stressful experience long after the event actually took place.

The human-animal bond is a close one, and pets are particularly vulnerable to absorbing their owners' moods and emotions, for example, we often stroke a dog or a cat when we are stressed or upset. Dogs and cats can experience fear, despondency, loneliness, stress and depression just as we do as well as picking up on our fears and frustrations. In this case they can benefit greatly from the flower essences which help to clear negative emotions and absorbed energies.

Herbal Remedies for Stressed Pets Animals form very deep attachments to their owners and to each other. It is therefore not surprising when they show signs of grief and depression if their owner or a companion pet die. 

Some animals experience separation anxiety when their owners go away for a vacation, or sometimes even when they leave them for a short time. Separation anxiety, can result in depression or, more commonly (especially in dogs), in destructive behavior such as digging, chewing or scratching.

 Depression and Grieving in Pets may take many different forms - from the obviously sad and lethargic animal to the pet who manifests illness and behavioral problems associated with depression. Emotional stress can often be seen as behavioral, mood and temperament changes such as restlessness, lethargy. Long term, stress can affect internal body functions, and processes of individual animals, as well as compromising the immune system it can adversely affect other body systems of the animal such as the nervous, circulatory, digestive and hormonal.

Emotions of animals are part of their psychological state and can be compromised as a result of many environmental factors such as intensive farming practices, extreme weather conditions, and breeding. Furthermore, emotional stress can compromise their immune system leaving them vulnerable to illness and disease and prolong any existing health problems they may already have.

Other problem pets such as animals that tend to wander away from home, cats that urinate and defecate all over the house, animals that suffer from separation anxiety can all benefit from flower remedies, and their problems can be improved. It depends on the situation, often if the change will be permanent, some problems are related to other animals in the household, such as territorial behavior, and this may persist as long as another cat is present. Nevertheless appropriate flower essences can help alleviate and resolve many of these situations, again combined most effectively with behavior modification and possible changes to the living environment.

Stressed Pets in the Recession: How we can Help Heal and Support Them?

by Seema Bhattessa

Stressed pets Animals are widely used in AAT (Animal Assisted Therapies) to help people overcome past traumatic and stressful experiences, emotional, social and mental impairment. Pets assist us in our healing process, support out emotional needs and help us feel loved, relaxed and more peaceful. But what can we do to help support their emotional state and overcoming their experiences of trauma, stress?

The recession has taken it's toll on our pets at an alarming rate. As some pet owners are finding it increasingly difficult to feed and care for their animals and are giving their pets to rescue and adoption centers which are already struggling to cope with the ever increasing arrival of abandoned and unwanted animals. However, some are not so fortunate and many pets are being simply abandoned or dumped to face their own fate. Some pet owners are having to relocate or downsize their living accommodation in an attempt to meet the ever increasing costs of living and are unable to take their pets with them. Others are having to work for longer hours in the financial struggle to keep their animals which can mean their pets are left alone for longer periods of time.

Like us, animals respond to stressful and traumatic experiences in much the same way as we do and they cannot verbalise their emotional pain in a way we understand. Animals with “Post Traumatic Stress” (PTS), anxiety and emotional pain can be the result from neglect, abuse, abandonment, grief and separation from their animal companions and owners, often seen as behavioural changes. Even changes in their daily routine, their home environment or family unit, can cause a degree of distress and anxiety or when left alone or confined for long periods of time. In the long term, an animals’ emotional trauma, stress and anxiety can lead to a weakened immune system and illness. 

Home base business opportunity Such behavioural changes in traumatised and stressed pets can make it difficult for animal rescue centres to rehabilitate and re-home them later and some pet owners have difficulty coping with these behavioural changes on a daily basis and sometimes the reason for giving them up for adoption. What can be done to help support an animals’ emotional state and overcoming their experiences of trauma or stress?

Animals can't communicate their needs with us in a way we understand but they do however have an in-built innate knowledge of how to heal themselves, they just need a little more help from us besides love and veterinary care. Self-healing therapies such as “Olfaction” or smell therapy and Energy healing using Reiki and Spiritual healing are just some of the ways we can offer them the emotional support they may be in need of, to process their emotional trauma and anxiety, move on and trust again.

Correcting Emotional and Behavioral Imbalances in Our Animals

fearful catChristina Chambreau DVM - "Herbal Flower remedies can help a lot with behavioral problems, such as biting and aggression. It is important to combine the remedy with training and behavior modification, and both these approaches are enhanced by the use of flower remedies. Fear, which is a common problem in animals, also can be helped by suitable remedies, and a combination of Rescue Remedy and the fear remedies mentioned above will often help in situations such as fear of thunderstorms, or general lack of confidence. Animals that have been rescued or abused in the past often benefit wonderfully from the use of appropriate flower essences, and they can help to restore their confidence and build trust."

fearful dog Rescue Remedy, combined with the homeopathic remedy Aconite makes a wonderful calming essence that can be used on wild animals, and for rehabilitation, as mentioned above it works well on any kind of stress or fear situation and definitely helps with survival rate in these situations. A few drops of the combined essence on the gums or even onto the ear of the rescued animal will calm them down and make them easier to handle. It can even be sprayed onto the skin or ears with a spray bottle and will still have a beneficial effect. A dropper of the combination can be put in the daily water for rescued animals to help them withstand the stress of captivity, and make them more manageable.

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How Your Absence Affects Your Pet

Settling separation anxiety and related behaviors

While many pet owners try to include their pets in all activities and travels, there will usually come a time when they must be left in the care of others. Whether this means putting the dog or cat in a boarding kennel or staying with friends or family, being away from home and their familiar surroundings can lead to anxiety, depression, and other behavioral issues in pets.

Prosac Free PetLeft untreated or undiagnosed, these issues can develop into lasting ailments, with cumulative negative health effects over time. While minor behavioral changes may be noticed on a daily basis, extended summer travel can exacerbate an already existing problem. Therefore, it is very important to recognize the great physical and mental impact separation anxiety can have on dogs and cats, and to take appropriate action when necessary to alleviate the effects of the absence.

Separation anxiety in cats and dogs can trigger behavioral problems such as sulking, hiding, whining after the owner leaves, inappropriate urination or defecation, chewing, scratching, vomiting, incessant following of the care taker, displaying an overly enthusiastic greeting upon the owners arrival, inactivity or hyperactivity, lethargy, changes in appetite, diarrhea, and excessive coat licking.

These behaviors can manifest to other health problems such as dangerous weight fluctuations, aggression, disobedience, depression, and other more serious conditions. Identifying the origin of the anxiety is critical. If underlying physical discomfort is suspected, consulting with a veterinarian is a wise decision in order to rule out underlying diseases that may be causing symptoms similar to those of separation anxiety.

Dealing with undesirable behaviors caused by separation anxiety requires some planning guidance, beginning as soon a puppy or kitten is brought into the home. To prevent separation anxiety, avoid situations that encourage excessive attachment making it easier for the pet to live independently. This includes teaching a pet to feel comfortable alone early on, and introducing solitary time via a crate or isolation room. If a pet feels that this time is not punishment but rather normal behavior, it will become accepted.

If an adult dog or cat is suffering from separation anxiety, methods to slowly train tolerance of the absence will be necessary. A simple, effective technique involves leaving the pet alone for a few minutes, and then returning following by petting or rewarding positive behavior. Repeating this over time and slowly increasing the length of time away should help to calm the anxiety the pet was experiencing.

Most of the time, providing a 'safety cue' when the dog or cat is left alone proves quite effective. A safety cue could be a specific toy to play with, leaving the television or radio on, or repeating a phrase upon departure. Adding elements that make a pet's environment more stimulating may help, as well. For instance, cats often enjoy climbing ledges, carpeted towers, and perches. Both cats and dogs often like having access to a window to peer out.

Sometimes, making behavioral modifications is just not quite enough to solve emotional conflicts. While conventional medications rely upon suppressing anxiety, they merely mask the symptoms leading to behavioral problems, rather than addressing the animal’s health in a holistic way to find the root of the problem. The side effects of these drugs are another inhibiting factor, and often lead people to a search for alternate measures. Coupled with behavior modification efforts, natural remedies can prove to be very effective in solving separation anxiety-related problems, while avoiding the side effects that accompany most drugs.

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Pets: Emotional Stability with Flower Essence

Freedom from pharmaceuticals – flower essence therapy as a solution

fearful dogAnimal practitioners have found flower essence therapy to be effective for a wide variety of behavioral difficulties. By addressing the internal emotional condition of the animal, outward behavior can be restored to a state of balance and appropriateness.

Flower essences are a non-invasive, longer-lasting alternative to pharmaceutical drugs as a support for behavior therapy in that they address underlying patterns and are a catalyst for changing animal emotions (fear, anxiety, etc.) that can lead to behavioral change. This is a further step from the drug/behavior modification approach; flower essence therapy is natural and non-invasive and is more than behavior modification in that it addresses underlying emotional states.

Animals respond just as well to Bach Flower remedies as people, and seem to have similar emotional imbalances that can be corrected with the appropriate remedy. The flowers are gathered from nature when they are just at the point of perfection and it is important that the flowers are free from any toxins and preservatives.

Flower Essence
by Christina Chambreau, D.V.M.

Flower essences are a safe, effective and natural way to help your animal companion lead a healthier and happier life. Dr. Edward Bach, an English physician, developed the philosophy behind Flower Essences. He gave up his busy practice to study and prepare the 38 Flower Essences now known as the Bach Flowers or English Flower Essences. They are specially prepared extracts of the flowering parts of certain plants.

In our animal companions, Flower Essences have their greatest benefit in the treatment of emotional or behavioral problems, such as:

  • - Fearfulness
  • - Excessive vocalization
  • - Separation anxiety
  • - Hyperactivity
  • - Elimination problems
  • - Recovery from injury, or surgery
  • - Excessive grooming, licking, chewing, or feather-picking
  • - Failure to adjust to environmental changes
  • - Jealousy and aggression
  • - Stress from boarding or confinement
  • - Grief from loss of human or animal companion
  • - Travel anxiety
  • - Training difficulties
  • - Dealing with chronic illness
  • - Performance (in show, working or racing animals)...and many others!

Dr. Hawks uses flower remedies in her practice:

  • Rescue Remedy: Remedy is good for many fearful, traumatized, anxious or ill animals. She often adds the Rescue Remedy to other Bach Flower mixtures. Fear and panic caused by travel, noises, new home, new people, trip to veterinarian, storms, epilepsy, injury and for any reason.
  • She will use both Aspen and Mimulus for fear. Aspen is for fear when you do not know what you are afraid of and Mimulus is for when you know what scares you. Since we cannot always make this distinction with animals, she uses both. She does use Mimulus when she can tell what the animal is skittish about. Since from the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view kidney problems are related to the emotion of fear, she often uses Mimulus in those cats with early kidney disease (drinking more, even when not eating dry food), as well as more advanced kidney disease where she is also using other modalities. For animals that are very fearful, for no apparent reason, and are very sensitive to anxiety and apprehension. Aspen: Fear of riding in the car. They may even tremble. Often it is hard to tell if the reason for fear in known or not, so Aspen is often combined with Mimulus.
  • Mimulus: Fear of known things, such as thunderstorms, other animals or people. For example trembling every time the gas stove is turned on or the fire started. Again it is often combined with Aspen.
  • Crab Apple: Skin problems can sometimes be helped due to the cleansing of the body and getting rid of toxins done by this remedy. It acts more on the physical body than any of the other Bach essences. Fussy animals often need it. It can be diluted and applied to the skin as well as given internally.
  • Chestnut Bud: Dr. Hawks uses ChestnutBud when she is ready to instill a new behavior pattern in an animal, or for beginning training. It can also help break an old habit. It has been used in cats that are not using their litter boxes. Failure to learn from past mistakes is the key to this remedy. Dogs who can’t seem to be house trained, cats who often go outside their box, apparent stubbornness in repeating “bad” actions. Animals that keep up a bad behavior – licking the owner, licking the floors, eating stool, eating paper or plastic, even chewing or itching on the skin.
  • Chicory: is good for jealous or needy animals. She uses it in dogs that are clingy, but for clingy cats she is more likely to use Water Violet, and clingy kitten and puppies are started on Chicory. Possessive and selfish are keywords here. Animals who guard their food bowl or toys and are over possessive. Sometimes it can help those animals who will not stop licking their owners or using the wrong scratching post (similar to Chestnut Bud). Separation anxiety, talkative, jealous, needy are all traits of Chicory.
  • Holly: is good in her experience for animals that are acting angry out of feeling a lack of love. It sometimes helps jealous animals. When an animal with liver problems is being treated and she or the guardian think anger could be a part of the problem or started the problem, she would consider Holly, even in a very nice, sweet animal. When cats urinate in front of you, she checks for a bladder infection, but sometimes it is anger at the guardian for working too hard and Holly could be useful. Anger, jealousy, suspicion, crabbiness, irritability and even viciousness without a need for attention is a match for Holly, even if it only shows up some of the time or in certain places (at the groomers?).
  • Honeysuckle: is good for wanting things the way they used to be. This could be a cat that can no longer go outdoors, or vice versa; when a family or couple splits up; when a child goes to college; when puppies leave their mom. Animals who are sad after a change in their life – weaning, going to a new home or handler, owner going back to work, being kenneled or taken to a different house for a while may need Honeysuckle. The Key is “lives in the past”.
  • Vervain: Those super enthusiastic animals that are over-bearing and “wired” may benefit from Vervain. Tenseness and hyperanxiety are the keys here. They “run a thing to death”. Often needed when the people are worn out by the hyperactivity and excess energy of their animals.
  • Vine: is good for cats that rule the household, causing problems for themselves (stress), and others in the household. Domineering and inflexibility are the keys to Vine. These dominant animals want to be the boss of animals and the people in their life. They can even be bullies to smaller animals and use their power to resist discipline. They can be cruel.
  • Walnut: Dr. Hawks says that Walnut is so much deeper than how it is often used. Walnut implies an element of staying with your own beliefs during times of radical transition and remaining strong and clear in your convictions and path rather than giving in to outside influences. So it is probably not the first choice for puppies leaving their mom and going to a new home. Rescue Remedy would probably be her first choice for the stress, trauma and anxiety associated with weaning. Walnut is frequently used for other transition times such as impending death. It is good when the animal’s housing is moved or the animal is introduced into a new circumstance. Wonderful to use before there are changes such as teething, breeding, weaning, moving, adjusting to new animals or people, or dying. Walnut helps the animal decide to actually make the changes or to be at peace with changes decided upon by you, the guardian.

Testimonials:

Bach's Rescue Remedy - A Natural Remedy to Alleviate Stress, Fear and Shock
by Nanna Holt Kjær

I have used Bach's Rescue Remedy for about a year. I have also corresponded with other users in Scandinavia and in the U.S. I find the remedy a big help and would therefore like to share my experiences with others. My initial interest was sparked by one of my dog's fear of fireworks. The problem was, and is, that the use of fireworks is now no longer limited to New Year's Eve. Nowadays shooting off fireworks seems a natural event at parties and get-togethers all the year round, and practically every night throughout December. Most sedatives and other calming agents need a couple of hours to take effect, which makes them practically useless when the noise can occur unpredictably at any time. I mean who wants to keep their dog sedated all through December. It is a bad enough decision to have to make for just one night a year.

Then I heard about Bach's Rescue Remedy, a mixture of flower essences. This remedy is administered just after a shock or fright and takes effect very quickly. Where I used to have a shivering dog hiding under my bed, I now have a dog that lies quietly listening to the thunder, gunshots, fireworks or whatever. She still isn't completely indifferent like the rest of my gang who just lie on their backs on my sofa and couldn't care less. But it is a vast improvement. She no longer goes to pieces, and this is achieved without filling her body up with drugs.

DOSE: 3-4 drops directly into the dog's mouth. If the desired result is not achieved within 10 minutes, repeat the dose. Bach's Rescue Remedy does not cause drowsiness.

“I am just thrilled. I am in Agility and I found that my dog Bo and I were just not connecting on any level. He was distracted and disengaged in the ring, as well as being aloof at home. The Essences have worked miracles on him. He and I are now a team when we run and he has become so engaged at home sometimes I can't get him to leave me alone! At a recent Agility meet, I was so pleased when I overheard another member telling two others that Bo was just not the same dog. During our consultation, Kris had the ability to take my words about Bo and translate them in a manner that led us to the Essences that would best suit him. I can't believe the change!"- K. Levine, Contact Zonies Agility Club, Phoenix, AZ -

“When dealing with emotional/behavioral problems in pets, I believe that Bach Flower Essences are the safest and most effective treatment modality. Most other behavior drugs, like Prozac, have many potential side effects, and are expensive. To be used safely, they have to be accompanied by blood tests to detect side effects before they become serious, which adds more costs. The key to utilizing Bach Flowers is to match the proper essence with the proper emotional issue. Kris has the unique ability to sort through all the issues to get to the core problem and then match the correct essences. I have experienced her skill both personally and with our two cats. Cost is reasonable and best of all, there are no side effects. Kris and Bach Flowers Essences are my first choice for treating emotional/behavior problems in pets.”- Thomas I. Leininger, VMD, CVCP -Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Chiropractitioner, Fountain Hills, AZ

"I want to let you know how thankful I am for your help! I was interested in Bach Flowers before meeting you but didn't have the time to do the research to find the specific combinations to help my group. After our initial interview, I felt confident that you made an accurate evaluation of the situations at hand. I appreciate how quickly you arrived at a combination of flower essences and that you got them all right on the first attempt! Emili has totally become the sweet dog I used to know! Even family members have commented that she doesn't have that 'evil look' anymore. Last week, I took her back to Petsmart (after a long absence) and she was excellent. She exhibited none of the old behaviors. No fuss, no pulling, no aggression, even with other dogs right next to her on the checkout line. We had a dog visit the other day and Emili actually initiated play with him. She's getting along better with all of the dogs. And now, when I prepare their food, I no longer have to keep her outside. She sits patiently by the cupboard and waits calmly for me to finish. She is a totally different dog. I can't tell you how much easier it is living in this house. We're having fun again!"- Becci Scott -Petcare Consultant and Pet Sitter, Phoenix, AZ

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Testimonials: Cat Changes Its Behavior and Dispostion

Do you have a pet from hell? I did. Zebrina, my tiger cat bonded with me instantly when I adopted her as a kitten. 3 weeks later I adopted an adorable calico kitten named Tikka, to keep her company. Zebrina was green with jealousy. She terrorized Tikka & tormented me for 19 years.

I am ashamed to say I hated her and wanted to throw her in a pit and cover it up with dirt. Yet when she was diagnosed with Lymphoma, Irritable Bowel Disease, and severe dehydration at age 14, I used powerful w-holistic therapies to help heal her 100%. After all, I was her mama. The vets had offered an aggressive procedure that I am convinced would have killed her at that age.

Tikka was so traumatized by Zebrina's mean-spiritedness, that she lived under the couch, was terrified of thunderstorms and freaked out at any movement or noise. One day I caught Zebrina beating up Tikka who was dying of renal failure at age 19. I was devastated and decided she would never abuse Tikka again.

I had read stories on how autistic children had become more social, less hyperactive, andimproved their learning skills after being on this immune support product. So I decided to experiment with my kitties.

I put both kitties on a w-holistic program consisting of:

  • Separating them completely for a few months
  • Cleansing them am and pm
  • Gave them a unique immune modulating product to strengthen their healing mechanism
  • Also used Marine Phytoplankton to give them the most powerful nutrients in the most bioavailable form
  • Put them on a high quality diet and I incorporated other w-holistic methods
Gradually over 6 months, both cats made the following dramatic changes in their health and personalities ZEBRINA

Before Holistic Therapy:

19 years of age
  • Terrorized Tikka
  • Whined constantly
  • Jealous & possessive
  • Scratched me constantly

After Holistic Therapy

20 years of age
  • Co-exist peacefully together
  • Her meaow is pleasant
  • Very content & lovable
  • Severe infection of lip healed in 2 days with no antibiotics

TIKKA

Before Holistic Therapy
19 years of age
  • Incontinent
  • Poor appetite
  • Non-assertive
  • Severely matted coat
  • Had a short time to live
  • Kidney values very high
  • Terrified of Zebrina
  • Petrified of Thunderstorms
  • Skiddish and hyper-reactive
  • I could not bond with her
  • Slept in isolation

After Holistic Therapy

20 years of age
  • Not incontinent
  • Voracious appetite
  • Squeals like a pig for her supper!
  • Beautifully self-groomed coat
  • Has lived 1 year since her diagnosis
  • Kidney values improved!
  • Relax & secure around Zebrina
  • Watches thunder and lightening fearlessly
  • Relaxed and peaceful
  • Tikka & I have bonded
  • Loves to sleep on my hip

The changes in my companion animals are so dramatic, that I can hardly recognize them as the same pets. I plan to keep them on the special immune enhancing supplement, the wheatgrass juice, and the plankton their daily rituals ongoing, because I have saved a fortune on vet bills and have avoided aggressive therapies.

As humans and animals age, their immune systems decline. I believe that if I keep my beloved pets immune systems strong, feed them Plankton and perform my other daily rituals, they one day will transition gently in their sleep.

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Life After Losing Your Pet

While society openly recognizes the hardships surrounding the death of a human family member, rarely does the loss of a pet receive the same consideration. However, for most pet owners, their furry friends are a very important part of the family! When losing a pet, the daily routine is often severely disrupted for the family they left behind-- in addition to the missing joy, affection, and companionship that pet brought. Sometimes pet owners must even be the initiator of this stressful event, in the case of euthanasia following a period of prolonged suffering from a severe illness or injury after an accident. While it may be the only humane solution for a pet's suffering, that notion alone often cannot provide enough solace to alleviate the difficulty of the decision.

To properly accept and move on from this great loss, it is important that owners acknowledge the intense emotions that they are likely to experience either immediately or shortly after the death. Many organizations like the ASPCA provide support programs or hotlines which can help address the confused, frightened, angry, guilty, and/or sad emotions they may be contending with.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to close friends and family members for support, too. While they may not be able to empathize on the same level, they can often guide owners through the hardest times and past the initial intense emotional period. As with any loss, healing is a personal issue. While it should not be trivialized, it is also important to keep emotions as balanced as possible to avoid falling into a deep depression.

In addition, it is important to keep a watchful eye of others influenced by the pet’s loss. Other animals in the household can be especially affected, as they do not understand what happened to their playmate. Whereas a child may be able to vocalize their emotion and comprehend the situation, an animal does not have the same capability to express emotions (and has no idea where the other pet has gone).

Depression and grieving in pets may take many different forms - from the obviously sad and lethargic animal to the pet that manifests illness and behavioral problems associated with depression. Remember that pets are also much attuned to their owner's emotional state. Any feelings of depression or grief may consequently impact pets remaining in the home.

Talk with children about the emotions they are experiencing, and allow them to properly grieve. Without this period of natural healing, unresolved feelings can bottle up and develop into more serious emotional problems that can endure for years. Sometimes creating a memorial of sorts—whether holding a private burial ceremony or establishing a place in the home or yard to display an urn or other offering of remembrance-- can provide a comforting reminder of your pet as well as bring closure. Also, strongly evaluate the thought to “fill the emptiness” too soon by bringing another pet into the home. Waiting at least a month is usually recommended before making another long-term commitment to a pet. When fully ready, consider adopting a needy pet from a shelter or rescue center.

However, there are many natural remedies that can provide some relief from the roller coaster of emotions the entire family may be experiencing. Did you know that St. John's Wort --found in Native Remedies’ MindSoothe & MindSoothe Jr.-- is used in mood elevating remedies for both humans and pets? Ignatia --found in Grief & Pining Formula-- is another herb that can provide effective relief for melancholic and emotionally fragile pets who are depressed or pining after separation or loss. While there is no cure-all to speed up the grieving process, just remember to allow yourself time.




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