Why Pet Loss Grief Counseling is Necessary
Grieving the loss of a beloved animal companion is more normal than what people might think. As humans, we have a full spectrum of emotions and we are within our rights to feel those feelings - especially grief. This can become compounded when other people around us don’t share in our grief process for animals or they find it impossible that a human should be grieving so heavily for another being that doesn’t look like them. The phrase “It’s just a…(dog/cat/horse/bird/fish..etc), you should be over that by now” is something that a bereaved pet owner might hear from the people around them. That phrase is hurtful, dismissive and not helpful at all.
I have always said "We grieve because we love". We grieve for what is lost and what we miss. We were (and perhaps still are) emotionally invested in that being (2 or four legged) and so we grieve their loss when they are no longer physically with us. My teacher, Teresa Wagner says “Grief is indifferent to the species lost”. Grief is grief - regardless of who or what you are. We grieve for our animals and they also grieve for us.
Sometimes, during our grief process the feelings can become overwhelming and we may feel like we can’t cope with the loss of our beloved animal companion. In situations like this - grief counseling can help the bereaved pet owner with working through those strong emotions towards healing and peace.
Some people are not comfortable with the idea of seeing a counselor to help them work through their grief process. That there is a stigma attached to seeing a counselor or getting help in general when it comes to our mental and emotional health.
It is very honorable and within the scope of an individual's self care to ask for help when the powerful emotions of grief become overwhelming. It doesn't make the bereaved any less of a human being because they need a little assistance.
My training and certification for Pet Loss Grief Counseling is through the Animal Loss & Grief Support Institute. It is taught by Teresa Wagner and is based on a Client-Centered Counseling Approach (which was developed in the late 1950's by the late Dr. Carl Rogers). This approach means that Empathy is at the core of every session before a strategy is offered. We do not impose our agenda on the client. We are there to listen with the purpose of understanding so that the client can become empowered in their journey towards healing. Through this method, we are honoring the agency of the client so we can understand them and meet them where they are.
Within my practice - every client (2 or 4 legged) is treated with Compassion, Understanding, and Dignity. Choosing to receive counseling for grief support is a very courageous thing to do and may not be an easy decision to make. If you are grieving the loss of an animal companion who was above all else, a cherished family member - then I invite you to schedule a clarity call with me. The call is free and while it will not include counseling per se, it will give us the opportunity to talk a little bit about your specific needs as well as to see if we are a good match to work with each other. The duration of this call is approximately 20 minutes.