Honoring Animal Lives,
Healing Human Hearts
Creative Practices, Rituals, and Animal Chaplaincy Tools for Spiritual Directors and Companions
Rev. Sarah Bowen
6 hours (total)
Webinar is recorded.
“Sarah’s workshop on interspecies spiritual practices and rituals opened our hearts to acknowledging buried loss and healing the wounds that often get brushed over in our culture. I am grateful!”
― REV. CAROL SAUNDERS, Unity minister and host of The Spiritual Forum
Sixty-seven percent of homes are interspecies! Humans have practical and spiritual questions about what to do when animals are injured, sick, lost, or die.
One study found that 93 percent of humans reported a disruption in their lives, such as trouble sleeping or losing appetite. Over 50 percent reduced their social activities, and 45 percent had job-related difficulties. Other studies have documented people’s loss of motivation, increased stress, anxiety, worry, and depression. Furthermore, animal death tends to resurface our memories of past bereavements and losses.
The grief we experience during these heartbreaking moments is real. Yet it is often denied because the loss is “not human.”
Furthermore, beyond our homes, how do we address the heartbreak we feel seeing a deer lying on the roadside or when hearing about the extinction of species on our interdependent planet?
Animal chaplaincy tools help us companion animals―and the humans who love them―through health dilemmas, end-of-life challenges, and the grief and loss that inevitably follow.
This 4-week online webinar series, designed for spiritual directors and companions, offers an experiential introduction to the tools of animal chaplaincy.
You’ll learn about the spiritual lives of animals, hear thought-provoking research about the health and wellness benefits of human-animal bonds, and learn how to support your clients through animal loss.
Our presenter, Rev. Sarah Bowen, is an animal chaplain, interspecies minister, and co-founder of Compassion Consortium, the first interfaith, interspiritual, and interspecies community for people who care about (and advocate for) animals and the planet. Sarah serves on the faculty of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary and is a columnist for Spirituality & Health Magazine.
Bowen is also an award-winning author. Her new book, Sacred Sendoffs: An Animal Chaplain’s Advice For Surviving Animal Loss, Making Life Meaningful, & Healing The Planet, hits bookstores April 5 and is available for pre-order now, published by Monkfish Publishing.
The price of the book is not included in the webinar cost.
Webinar participants do not have to purchase the book, though it is a handy resource for those supporting others through animal loss or interested in practicing interspecies spirituality.
This webinar series is an invitation to:
“An ardent invitation to multispecies mourning for our more-than-human companions, from our beloved pets, to the deer on the side of the road, to the rapidly increasing extinction of species on our shared planet”
―CODY J. SANDERS, Chaplain at Harvard University & Advisor in the Office of Religious, Spiritual, & Ethical Life, MIT
Session 1 (October 28, 1 PM Seattle time)
Do Animals Have Spiritual Lives? ― Session 1: Drawing from the work of Jane Goodall and other primatologists, as well as neuroscientists and ethologists, we’ll explore the probability that animals engage in spirituality that does not necessitate worship, belief in God, nor requires language. Instead, animal spirituality is based on reverence of nature, observing carefully, being overwhelmed by grandeur, and experiencing wonder. We’ll also explore the benefits of shared spiritual experiences with animals by engaging in mindfulness, meditative, and spiritual practices―in natural habitats with animals through virtual technology. We’ll also explore animal theology and what religions “say” about animals. You’ll take away practices and resources you can use personally as well as with your clients and spiritual communities.
Session 2 (November 4, 1 PM Seattle time)
Companioning Animals (And Their Humans) ― Session 2: For most humans, our strongest interspecies relationships will be with the animals who live in our homes. So, in this session, we’ll explore research-based evidence for the spiritual, mental wellness, health, and conservation benefits of human-animal bonds. We’ll learn what animal companions need to stay healthy and how living with cats and dogs can improve human health and well-being. Then we’ll expand outward to consider our relationships with free-living, wild beings through the lens of conservation psychology. You’ll leave session 2 with an understanding of how and why animal relationships matter to human well-being.
Session 3 (November 11, 1 PM Seattle time)
Sacred Sendoffs ― Session 3: Animal loss hurts. Research suggests that talking about a pet’s death and social support are essential to the grieving process. So, we’ll explore transition rituals from around the world as well as options for dealing with bodies—including green burials, aquamation, and unbelievable cremation keepsakes. You’ll learn how to navigate messy questions about animal souls and what happens to animals when they die. We’ll also look at creative memorials for environmental disasters and species extinction that can help heal ecological grief. Session 3 will provide you with tools to help clients make decisions about euthanasia, supporting animals during life transitions, attending to their bodies upon death. You’ll also learn a framework for assisting people in creating a plan to manage their grief spiritually and memorialize their loss.
Session 4 (November 18, 1 PM Seattle time)
Self-Care for Animal Advocates & Earth Warriors ― Session 4: Animal lovers, environmental activists, vegetarians/vegans, and veterinarians often feel misunderstood by people who don’t understand their concern for non-human lives. They can experience anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and hopelessness due to cognitive dissonance with the world around them, which exploits animal lives and the planet. In our final session, we’ll explore strategies for building resilience and understanding the impact trauma stewardship can have on our lives. Finally, we’ll check out frameworks for tackling tough ethical dilemmas in the more-than-human world. You’ll take away resources to help support people struggling with these issues. You’ll also gain resources for your own self-care.
Each session is recorded so you can watch at your convenience.
Rev. Sarah Bowen
Rev. Sarah A. Bowen is an animal chaplain, interspecies minister, and a co-founder of Compassion Consortium, the first interfaith, interspiritual, and interspecies community for people who care about (and advocate for) animals and the planet. She also companions animals through death, creates sacred memorial rituals, counsels humans grieving animal loss, and advocates for exploited and endangered species in both religious and secular contexts.
Sarah is also an academic dean at One Spirit Interfaith Seminary, and has presented on animal death and interspecies spirituality at the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week, Parliament of the World’s Religions, Compassion Arts Festival, Pace E Bene’s Campaign Nonviolence Action Week, and numerous radio shows and podcasts.
An award-winning author, Sarah authored two books on modern spirituality, including Spiritual Rebel: A Positively Addictive Guide to Finding Deeper Perspective and Higher Purpose and Void if Detached: Seeking Modern Spirituality Through My Father’s Old Sermons. Her latest book is Sacred Sendoffs: An Animal Chaplain’s Advice for Surviving Animal Loss, Making Life Meaningful, & Trying to Heal the Planet (Monkfish Publishing, April 2022). She is a columnist on animal/human relationships for Spirituality & Health Magazine, and her work has appeared in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Elephant Journal, Parabola, mindbodygreen, and a wide range of spirituality media.
Sarah is a member of the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, Spiritual Directors International, and The International Society for Anthrozoology.