'The Book of Pet Love and Loss' is a collection of personal musings on the joy and grief of pet ownership taken from some of the world's most famous pet parents
Those who feel deeply about their pets are in "very good company," according to Sara Bader.
Some of the world's most famous individuals, from Helen Keller to Oprah Winfrey, have expressed how pets unlock a unique level of emotion in humans, especially after animal companions die.
The loss of a beloved pet inspired Bader to write The Book of Pet Love and Loss: Words of Comfort and Wisdom from Remarkable People.
"I became very close to my cat Snowflake, and we forged a very deep friendship, and she really turned me into a cat person. She got sick and progressively started to weaken and get thinner. And so it was a slow process over many months, and I had plenty of time to prepare," Bader tells PEOPLE of the pet that led her to create her new book.
"I thought I was prepared, and then when I said goodbye, I was wrecked in a way that I was pretty surprised by. The level of wrecked I was really flattened me," she adds.
A writer and a researcher, Bader looked for a book to help her through this overwhelming time of mourning.
"I found a ton of books, there are a lot of beautiful books about pet loss, but I really wanted just a collection. I was exhausted. I wasn't eating very well. I wanted a collection of quotations by people I recognized who had been through the process and could make me feel like, 'Okay, this isn't unusual. A lot of other people have been wrecked. They've been through it; they've gotten through it,'' she says.
Unable to find a book to fit her needs, Bader started looking for quotes from famous figures about their experiences with pet companionship.
"They're not always easy to find because people are embarrassed about how intensely they feel, very similarly to how intensely I felt. So they often write about it in the midst of a letter or the midst of a journal entry. I started looking at more personal writings and found beautiful sentiments at all stages of pet companionship, starting with how much they had fallen in love with the animal at the beginning to watching an animal get older, walk slower, and have a harder time on the stairs. And then that difficult decision of when it's time to say goodbye," she says.
After unearthing so many tender, vulnerable moments from recognizable names and finding solace in what these famous figures had to say, Bader collected her findings in The Book of Pet Love and Loss. The book contains quotes from each stage of pet ownership, starting with the initial excitement and wonder that comes from connecting with a pet and concluding with the bittersweet marks pets leave behind when they die.
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Seeing her thoughts about the loss of her cat Snowflake echoed back to her from the pens of renowned writers and world leaders gave Bader "a lot of solace." She hopes others mourning the loss of the pet will find that comfort in her book.
"I want people to be able to feel and not be embarrassed by it. I think this is one big community, almost like a chorus of voices that allow you to really feel," Bader says of The Book of Pet Love and Loss.
Read on for a selection of quotes from The Book of Pet Love and Loss, available now.
Dolly Parton on why being a pet parent is bittersweet
"I have always loved dogs. The saddest thing about it is that they don’t live as long as people do. They come into your life, you love them, and then they have to go."
Elizabeth Gilbert on what dogs teach us about death
"My favorite monk at the ashram where I lived in India taught me that dogs have such a short lifespan because it’s part of their loving service to us. They are here, among other reasons, to teach us how to die—because they are so good at it, and we are so bad at it. . . . Wanting to help, they volunteer to die early, as a way of saying: 'Look! It’s not hard! Let me show you how! All you have to do is let go.'"
Jane Goodall on the unique pain of losing her dog Rusty
"It wasn’t reading books or working with chimps that convinced me animals could think and feel. It was my dog, Rusty. We spent every waking hour together. I can still remember clearly the day he died. I was about twenty. I was in London out to dinner with my boyfriend and I got the call. I tried to carry on normally but I burst out crying. I was utterly devastated. The deaths of some of the chimps I’ve worked with were very upsetting but it wasn’t the same as Rusty. The chimps were their own selves, they were quite separate—Rusty was part of me."
David Sedaris on the death of his cat
The cat’s death struck me as the end of an era. . . .The end of my safe college life, the last of my thirty-inch waist, my faltering relationship with my first real boyfriend. I cried for it all and
spent the next several months wondering why so few songs were written about cats.
Helen Keller on what happens after a pet's death
I grieved for him a long time, and resolved never to have another dog. But everybody knows how, in the course of time, the proverbial other dog arrives.
Dean Koontz on how dogs live life
"When you have dogs, you witness their uncomplaining acceptance of suffering, their bright desire to make the most of life in spite of the limitations of age and disease, their calm awareness of the approaching end when their final hours come. They accept death with a grace that I hope I will one day be brave enough to muster."
Georgia O'Keefe on the companionship pets provide
"The dog and I have a walk almost every early morning and again at sunset—He just now banged on the door to tell me he was ready to come in and go to bed."
Oprah Winfrey on the pain of losing a pet
Weeks have passed. And the pain has not subsided. Every time I think about it, my heart starts racing and I feel like I just got stabbed in the chest. It’s a jolt, still. Gracie’s death.
Barack Obama on missing his dog Bo
For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives—happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and every day in between. He tolerated all the fuss that came with being in the White House, had a big bark but no bite, loved to jump in the pool in the summer, was unflappable with children, lived for scraps around the dinner table, and had great hair. He was exactly what we needed and more than we ever expected. We will miss him dearly.
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