Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick mourn death of their rescued Lab mix

Kevin Bacon and Lab mix, Paulie (photo credit: Kevin Bacon)

The Bacon-Sedgwick family is in mourning. Kevin Bacon announced that Paulie, the Lab mix he and wife Kyra Sedgwick adopted in 1999, has passed away.

Bacon shared the sad news on his WhoSay page, posting a picture of the beloved pup with the caption, “Paulie 1999-2012. Sleep well old friend.”

A few years ago Kyra recalled Paulie’s puppyhood, telling People magazine how the mischievous little guy got his name. “At six weeks he reminded me of Rocky [Balboa’s] brother Paulie,” she said. “It made no sense. It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. He looked like this little tough guy who the second he came into our apartment wreaked havoc.”

Coping with pet loss
If like Bacon and Sedgwick, you’re dealing with the death of a pet, it’s normal to struggle with the loss. It’s likely you’ll experience the following stages grief — first identified by Swiss psychologist, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross — as you deal with the traumatic change in your life.

When told that a pet is terminally ill, some owners, unable to face up to the painful reality, instead deny it: “This can’t be happening. There must be some mistake.” But denying the undeniable usually doesn’t last very long. The second stage soon follows.

In this stage, the overwhelming feeling is: “It’s just not fair! How can this be? Who is responsible for this?” You may feel responsible for your pet’s illness or death, certain that something you did or failed to do brought it about: “How could I have let this happen? Why didn’t I catch it sooner?”

When told that your pet is terminally ill, you may still harbor the hope that, somehow, you will be able to postpone or delay the inevitable. Often, the plea is made to a higher power: “Oh God, please let him live another year.”

Once the certainty of your pet’s impending death can no longer be denied, you may sink into depression. Tears flow freely, your usual energy and zest for life seem to have drained away, and the normal day-to-day tasks of everyday life seem like an unbearable burden.

Ultimately, you will come to terms with what has happened or is soon to happen. Your sorrow doesn’t vanish, but it will stop haunting you. Fond memories come to replace the pain of loss and you are no longer burdened by negative emotions.

Accept your feelings; seek support
Grief is a normal reaction to loss. Don’t feel obligated to ‘keep a stiff upper lip.’ Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to grieve. Friends and family may, with the best of intentions, urge you to ‘get over it.’ Thank them for their concern, but explain that you have to grieve in your own way and in your own time and ask them for their patience and support. At times, you will find solace by ‘talking through’ your feelings; at other times, quiet personal reflection will serve you best. You are the best judge of your own needs.