Pet Loss & Animal Related Grief Support
Losing a beloved animal can lead to a profound, even traumatic sense of loss.
Grieving due to the loss of an animal, or an anticipated loss, can be very difficult.
The loss of an animal companion and feelings of grief are not always due to death. A great sense of loss may result due to other reasons.
There can also be very difficult decisions around end of life care options and euthanasia which can cause great stress and upset.
If you or someone you know is suffering, grief support can help.
"In the end as humans mourn, we must discover meaning to go on living our tomorrows" ~ Alan.D Wolfelt
One of the toughest parts of grieving for a pet is that people often feel alone and unsupported, even sometimes by their closest family and friends. Society does not treat pet loss as very significant and often we feel unable to talk about how we feel and even ashamed of our grief. It is important to feel that we are being heard and that our feelings are validated and acknowledged. You shouldn't have to hide how you feel. It's okay to not be okay!
The loss of a beloved pet can feel just as bad as losing a human loved one.
Grief is an individual experience and we need to allow ourselves the time and space to heal.
Grief is not 'one-size-fits all' experience.
Wildflower Healing's Support Sessions are tailored according to your needs.
"Juli was warm and non-judgemental.
I felt comfortable and safe during my sessions with her and able to open up about the loss of my beloved cat."
"I needed emotional support that I just wasn't receiving even from my family at the time. Juli helped me during a very challenging period following the loss of my dog."
"At a time of great sadness, talking with Juli really helped. She gave me tools to help me cope with my grief and work through my feelings."
There may be various reasons for grieving the loss of an animal.
- Natural death/ passed away
- Euthanasia (had to be "put to sleep")
- Animal is missing or has been stolen
- Rehoming of an animal due to changes in a person's circumstances i.e. due to relationship breakup, moving into accomodations which do not permit pets, such as a nursing home, and moving abroad.
- Seizure of an animal by animal control authorities (ie. due to behavioural issues such as noise or aggression, breed specific legislation prohibiting the keeping of certain dogs)
- Anticipatory Grief- when an animal is terminally ill and/or of advancing age, this is the grief from knowing that the animal is reaching the end of their life.
Anticipatory Grief can be particularly difficult. You may experience a roller coaster of emotions and this can be a very challenging time, on many levels. You are grieving for a beloved animal even though they are still alive. Options regarding palliative care and end of life treatments (including euthanasia) can make it hard to know what to do and there may also be financial complications to consider. Sometimes we are unable to do everything we would like for our animal due to personal circumstances. There can be a lot of pressure on us, often leading to feelings of guilt.
There tends to be great conflict and guilt when faced with end of life care options and the difficult decision about euthanasia. Even though euthanasia may be the ultimate act of love and kindness, there can be great anguish when facing this decision. We at Wildflower Healing can assist you through this difficult period as you think through possible options and also when it may be time to help end your animal's suffering. Keep in mind that you should always consult with your veterinarian about these options and what may be best for your animal companion and you.
Following euthanasia, many people will find themselves second-guessing their decisions and feeling incredibly guilty. They may wonder whether they did the right thing, whether have done all that they could for their animal companion and question whether they should have waited longer (or even if they waited too long). These are all normal reactions.
Grief is not something that we "go through"; rather it may feel as if it moves through us, in waves. People experience grief in different ways and at different times. There are no 'rules' for how we grieve or for how long. We can learn to live with our grief and still move forward.
The significance of pet loss/the loss of animals is not yet fully appreciated and acknowledged by society, at least not in the same way that we acknowledge the loss of human life. Though some people may not understand the depth of feeling you have for an animal, you should never feel guilty or ashamed about grieving for your animal companion. Some people assume that pet loss shouldn’t hurt as much as human loss, or that it is somehow inappropriate to grieve for an animal. They may not fully understand what you are going through but that doesn't make your experience any less significant or the grief any less hard. It is important for you to know that your feelings are real, natural and valid.
Why seek support?
Sometimes it can really help to communicate with someone who has been through their own losses, who truly understands and can empathize with what you are going through. Perhaps because we know what it means to lose and grieve for an animal, we are drawn to helping others through their own grief. We know how painfully heartbreaking it is to lose an animal companion.
Juli has a degree in psychology and has undergone extensive training and certification in bereavement counselling in the US and UK. She volunteers regularly in providing pet loss and bereavement support. Our grief support sessions will give you the opportunity to express your emotions openly in a non-judgemental environment and can help provide you with greater insight into your feelings and ultimately help you to move forward.
Sessions are offered online via Zoom, FaceTime, Skype or by phone or email (whichever you prefer), which means you can be in the privacy and comfort of your own home. No matter where you are in the world, a suitable time for your sessions can be arranged.
Pet Loss and animal-related grief support sessions and resources are intended as an emotional support for individuals experiencing grief and bereavement due to the loss or anticipated loss of a pet/ animal companion. These sessions and resources are not to be recognised as licensed psychotherapy or counselling.
By participating in any services and reading the associated website/blog/email, you acknowledge that I am not a licensed psychologist or medical professional and these services do not replace the care of veterinary professionals, psychologists, licensed psychotherapists or other healthcare professionals. I will at all times exercise my best professional efforts, skill and care. I cannot however guarantee the outcome of these services and/or recommendations on website/blog/sessions/email. Any comments about the outcomes are expressions of opinion only.