Book Review: Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Losing a Pet by Gary Kowalski

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Last week, my ten-year-old shiba inu dog, Ryder, unexpectedly passed away. My grief was raw and unmanageable, as this amazing creature stood by my side, offering unconditional love and support 24/7. My other half, equally as impacted, purchased a few books to try to help us understand how to find any solace or ability to move forward, as Ryder was part of every moment of our day. I picked up a paperback copy of Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski as the first one to read this week.


The author is a minister who approaches the loss of a pet from a spiritual perspective, but the book is carefully balanced to not be excessively religious. I bring this up, not in a good/bad way, only to point out that if you are a religious person, you’ll find helpful content, but if you’re not a religious person, you will also find many chapters focused on the emotions of the grieving process. It’s essentially a good read for anyone — without pushing any one belief or philosophy.

The author’s tone is charismatic. He shares personal stories of his own pets, those of friends and others from his congregation. He quotes verses from works of literature and various religious tomes, including outside of Christianity. All-in-all, it provides strong perspective on what’s happening in your mind and in the animal’s mind during the final days of losing your beloved pet. When he spoke of the euthanasia process, or the inexplicable appearance of pets that had previously passed on, you will shed a tear for a minute thinking about your own experiences. In these moments, I connected with the book. In others, where it was more generic, it seemed like things I already knew; then again, the reminders can provide subtle help we’re not even aware of.

It felt like the kind of book not to read all in one sitting, as there are poems and stories you can read separate from the advice and guidance he provides. There are links to other articles or books that could help you. It’s a good, basic approach to beginning to understand your grief and determine how to step forward. If you’re looking for something deeply analytical, thoroughly psychological or lengthy stories about beloved pets, this wouldn’t be the right book to read for that purpose. But I am glad I read it, as it did push me to think differently in a few areas of my mind. I’m grateful for that help.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
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37 thoughts on “Book Review: Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Losing a Pet by Gary Kowalski

    susandyer1962 said:
    January 24, 2018 at 10:14 AM

    I’m glad it helped Jay!

    Liked by 1 person

    wakinguponthewrongsideof50 said:
    January 24, 2018 at 10:31 AM


    Liked by 1 person

    inspirationpie said:
    January 24, 2018 at 10:51 AM

    Hugs Jay ❤ Glad to see you are posting again.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 24, 2018 at 10:58 AM

      🙂 I am pushing myself. I have a few coming up I had written two weeks ago, so I’m using them now when I don’t feel ready to write. Today… I did. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    The Lexington Bookie said:
    January 24, 2018 at 10:53 AM

    I’m so sorry for your loss. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    Sheri said:
    January 24, 2018 at 11:00 AM

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your pet. My dog is 13 and I’ve been giving her extra love, since I don’t know how much time we have left. I may have to keep these books in mind when the time comes. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 24, 2018 at 11:01 AM

      Yes, the books can help. So do people. Being able to share Ryder with everyone thru my blog, and then all the friends and folks who reached out to me all week have been essential. Make sure you have that in the future! Extra love is perfect… I wish you well. Thank you for stopping by today.

      Liked by 1 person

    Mischenko said:
    January 24, 2018 at 11:02 AM

    This sounds like a really nice book and I loved your review. I must recommend Bernard Jan’s book “A World Without Color.” It’s basically an accounting of what he went through with his cat Marcel and how they had to let him go. Very sad, but worth the read and not super long and drawn out. ❤ Take Care, J.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 24, 2018 at 11:06 AM

      Hi. Thank you. I believe I’m connected with him on Goodreads. I will check it out. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    The Cozy Pages said:
    January 24, 2018 at 11:33 AM

    Thanks for sharing Jay. Will keep this one in mind. I’m glad it helped a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    By Hook Or By Book ~ Book Reviews, News, & Other Stuff said:
    January 24, 2018 at 12:07 PM

    Oh my gosh Jay! I read this after Lacey died, and I was planning on recommending it to you, but was waiting a couple of weeks because I wasn’t sure if you were ready. I’m so glad you found it and it helped.🤗

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 24, 2018 at 1:07 PM

      W bought them, so they were here. I thought it would be good to give it a try. Thank you for being so considerate over it. We have one other here, but I’m purposely waiting a couple of weeks when I feel like I’ll be hit with a wave of loss again.

      Liked by 1 person

    Beware Of The Reader said:
    January 24, 2018 at 12:33 PM

    I’m happy if it could help you and give you some solace Jay. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    Chauncey Rogers said:
    January 24, 2018 at 3:56 PM

    Glad it was helpful for you. Pets can have such a powerful impact, even after they’re gone.

    Liked by 1 person

    Mary Deal said:
    January 24, 2018 at 3:57 PM

    I can empathize with you, James, though my memories are much older. I lost my Fala, a shiny black 6 year old Scottish Terrier when I was 8 years old. What I felt as a child may or may not be similar to what you’re experiencing now, except that I, too, grieved. So much so, I have not had another pet of my own since. I didn’t want to deal with another death. Something you are going through has opened up my feelings and made me see that this one thing I suppressed my entire lifetime. I am wishing strongly that you will move through your loss day by day and have no fear of having another pet once the memory of Ryder has taken its place in your consciousness. Doesn’t mean you need to get another pet now or ever. I just wish with all my might that your sorrows will heal soon.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 24, 2018 at 5:48 PM

      Grief is grief, even if it’s power is at different ages. It’s a hard decision to make: when to adopt another dog. We will in time. I am sorry you suffered too. xoxo Thank you for your kindness.


    twogalsandabook said:
    January 24, 2018 at 4:16 PM

    I am sorry for you loss James. My condolences go out to your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    RobbyeFaye said:
    January 24, 2018 at 6:59 PM

    J, I’m so glad you found a book that helps, even if it’s just small random parts of the book.
    Huge hugs for you and W >—-(^_^)——–(^_^)——–(^_^)—-<

    Liked by 1 person

    carhicks said:
    January 25, 2018 at 7:56 AM

    I am glad this book helped Jay. I am going to put it on my TBR so I remember the title. I know I will need it in a few years if not earlier. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    Cozynookbks said:
    January 25, 2018 at 8:27 AM

    I’m glad you got some comfort from reading this book, Jay. I’m wondering about the spiritual aspect of it. 🤔
    It’s so hard saying goodbye to a cherished dog. 😞

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 25, 2018 at 3:12 PM

      I think you can read a few chapters on Amazon before you buy it.


    Garabrandt Reviews said:
    January 25, 2018 at 4:19 PM

    Sorry for your loss hon.

    Liked by 1 person

    Traveling with The Wee Tots said:
    January 28, 2018 at 11:11 PM

    I’m sorry for your loss…I enjoyed reading your book review and will likely purchase it when that horrible time comes around

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      January 29, 2018 at 8:32 AM

      Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Feel free to message if you ever need to chat in the future over it.


    Aislynn d'Merricksson said:
    January 31, 2018 at 3:13 AM


    Liked by 1 person

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