The pets in our life are much more than just animals, they are family members. They may be a bit fuzzy but they are none-the-less, family members.
Our pets have provided us with companionship, friendship, and unconditional love. They have acted as work partners, exercise partners, hiking companions, baby sitters, playmates for our children, companions for elderly or disabled people in our lives, and a friend to cuddle with when we need love or support. When we lose one of them the emotions of grief will be just as strong and just as variable as if we have lost a beloved human friend or relative.
The emotions of grief can be a roller coaster ride. One minute you may be sad, the next minute angry, at another time you may feel listless and at other times guilty. These emotions are normal and real. Sometimes they can be overwhelming. Don't underestimate how strong the human-animal bond can be.
Your pet was a very important part of your life and thus your emotions are bound to be equally as powerful. With time if you do not find yourself recovering from your grief you may want to verbalize your emotions or feelings with someone you trust. You may find it helpful to seek the advice of a professional or chat with others on-line who are experiencing similar emotions. Be patient with yourself, remember that grief will ebb and flow over time and may take a prolonged period of time to resolve.
Below we have provided some resources which may help you through this difficult time. Some provide chat rooms or on-line grief resource classes.
Kathyrn Metzger is a licensed Clinical Social Worker who has assisted many individuals and families through the grieving process. Being a pet owner herself she realizes that pets are important member of our households and that the loss of them may create a deep emptiness and strong feelings of grief.
"It is not uncommon for the loss of a pet to trigger memories and unresolved feelings surrounding past losses in your life" Kathyrn tells us.
Kathryn is a long term Boise resident and is currently the "mom" to several fuzzy family members including a Malamute mixed named Minx and two mischievous kitties named Joey and Rubin. She understands the deep attachments that we have with our pets and knows that the depth of loss that goes along with losing a pet can be severe. Kathryn uses techniques such as EMDR and other evidence based methods to guide and help people through their grief. She is well known at Gentle Goodbyes as a kind, compassionate person who is deeply dedicated to her work.
Associated with the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. The Argus institute is one of the longest standing and most comprehensive online pet grief resources available.
www.aplb.org - Association for pet loss and bereavement
Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine support line (607) 253-3932
University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine support line. Monday-Friday 9am - 6pm. (865)755-8839
The Iams Pet Loss Support Center Hotline : 1-888-332-7738 Mon-Fri 9 am to 5 pm Eastern Time
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Pet loss support program hotline: (877) 474-3310
Goodbye My Friend by Mary and Herb Montgomery, Montgomery Press, ISBN 1879779005 (2001)
A Final Act of Caring: Ending the Life of an Animal Friend
Journey through Pet Loss by Deborah Antinori, Yoko Spirit Publications, ISBN 0966884817
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst, Simon and Schuster Childrens, ISBN 0689712030
A Gift From Rex , by Jim Kramer DVM, Beavers Pond Press, Inc. All ages, ISBN 1890676632
A Special Place for Charlee: A Childs Companion Through Pet Loss by Deborah Morehead Partners in Publishing, LLC, ISBN 0965404900