Our Pet Loss Grief Support Group Offers Relief
Grief is something that touches most everyone’s life at some point and there are supports built in for this when it involves human to human bonds. While these supports do not deaden the pain, they assist in moving us through the inevitable ups and downs of the process.
This kind of support can be harder to find when it involves the human to animal bond. There is no built-in time off and no standardized rituals to help us wrap our minds around the sense of emptiness, sadness and often guilt which accompanies this loss. At times, there is not even a sense that one is understood and supported. This “lack” makes it that much more important for the grieving individual to locate specific and personal ways to recognize this very distinctive and tender kind of loss.
Because grief is a natural process and can become complicated and even paralyzing when unexamined and unexpressed, we provide a monthly meeting where individuals can come to tell the story of their beloved pet and give voice to their struggle in a supportive environment.
Whether one has already experienced such a loss or is anticipating an imminent loss, feelings can become debilitating and the loneliness of this passage can feel unmanageable. It can help to be in the company of like-minded people who will listen, share and understand. Those attending the group have a chance to tell their own stories and also to listen and learn about grief and mourning in general.
This monthly session is facilitated by Terri Treiman who is a long-time Tree House volunteer and pet guardian as well as a licensed clinical social worker. The meetings convene before adoption hours begin on the first Saturday of each month unless it is a holiday or there is no stated need. They run from 10:30 noon at the Uptown branch of Tree House.
- Three Cats, Two Dogs by David Congalton
- Pets Living with Cancer by Robin Downing
- Coping with Sorrow on the Loss of your Pet by Moira Anderson
Ways to memorialize your companion animal:
- Plant a tree to honor him or her.
- Plant a flower garden.
- Write a poem.
- Write letters to him or her and put them in a special place or bury them at the resting place.
- While your memories are still recent, write down all the things you love about your companion animal, each one on a small piece of paper or colored card. Put them in a pretty box, and take one out every time you want to be reminded of your loved one.
- Place some of his or her hair in a locket you can wear.
- Frame photographs and put them around your home.
- Watch a video you made of him or her.
- Conduct a memorial or burial ceremony in exactly the way you deem appropriate for your loved one.
- Put a bench near your companion animal’s resting place, if you buried him or her.
- If you chose cremation, place the ashes in a suitable container somewhere quiet in your home.
- Put all your companion animal’s toys, bowls, and beds in a special place you can visit in your home.
- Donate in the name of your pet to Tree House.