Grief Counselling – Pet Loss
- A safe space to validate and acknowledge the loss of your pet
- A safe space to mourn and talk about your pet
- Support for anticipatory loss
- Guidance for children and families experiencing their pet loss.
- Therapeutic support for traumatic losses
Grieving the Death of a Pet
Grieving the death of a pet is very similar to grieving when a person you loved dies.
The grief for a pet can often feel just as intense and sometimes more intense than some of the people in our lives.
Common thoughts that people might have are: Is this normal? This is crazy. Why am I so upset? I didn’t cry this much at my grandparents death… etc.
I hope to offer people comfort in knowing that it is normal and not crazy to feel grief after a pet dies. Our pets offer us unconditional love and companionship. They can often have a deep connection with us and we build our routines and life around them. This love and presence is hard to cope with when it is no longer there. How grief presents itself will vary from person to person just as grieving for a person would. The grief is real.
Grief for the death of a pet is not easily acknowledged by our society and can be difficult for some to return to work or given enough time and space away to mourn the loss. We are often rushed back to “normal life” and encouraged to “get over it”. This requires the grief to become unacknowledged and invalidated for the mourner. It may begin to feel that this is abnormal and requires a safe space to talk about. There is also an added disenfranchisement for those grieving a pet that is not a cat or dog. Whatever kind of animal you have, rabbit, snake, spider, hamster,… the grief can happen if you had a loving attachment to your pet.
Anticipatory Loss of a Pet
Sometimes we see the decline in health and have to prepare ourselves for their deaths. Discussions with vets about quality of life and euthanasia can be exhausting and difficult to consider.
The question of what to do when the time comes and your pet passes away at home can be hard to cope with and an experience that can have a profound impact on us. During this time we do grieve but we can also make it a special time to say goodbye.
Pet loss and Children
Often times the death of pet is the first experience of death for children. Sometimes as adults it can be an uncomfortable conversation to have with them and to know how to help them with their grief.
I often will use play or art therapy to help children directly with talking about death and grief. It is also encouraging when families are able to explore this experience together and I am available to speak with parents about how to do this or support everyone through this discussion.
Some books that may be helpful include:
Traumatic Death of a Pet
I hope that most people do not have to experience a traumatic death of their beloved animal. Sometimes this does happen and there can sometimes occur symptoms of trauma that start to come up in addition to the grief. These symptoms may include nightmares, ruminating over the event, newly developed fears (phobias), hyper-vigilance, intense guilt, flashbacks, etc.
I use trauma-informed practices to help integrate and heal from the trauma to allow for the mourning to occur.
Other Readings About Coping with Pet Loss
I offer counselling sessions for children, youth, adults, and families.
$150-$200/hour (sliding scale is available)
Accepted by most insurance companies (please check with your provider)
Hours: Monday, Tuesday (evenings), Saturdays