Archive for January 19th, 2010

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11:03 19 January 2010

Pet Loss Support Group Meetings

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What can you expect when you go to a Pet Loss Support Group meeting?

Everyone sits in a circle, all facing each other.  The leader or the group facilitator, usually starts by stating the group’s purpose and laying the “ground rules” –  ie the group begins and ends on time, all information shared by the group stays there, members are free to exchange phone numbers if they choose etc.

Going around the circle, members may choose to share as much or as little as they wish, or may choose to “pass”.  One person speaks at a time, and everyone gets an equal share of time – no one is allowed to monopolize the session.  Suggestions may be offered, but unsolicited advice is not given.  One by one people are invited to introduce themselves and to tell as much or as little about their pet as they wish.   Experiences, thoughts, feelings, are openly expressed, and painful as well as pleasant memories are recalled.  Often members are asked to pass around photographs of their pets.  Some members may choose to read Eulogies they have written to their pet, others choose to share personal tributes they have penned.  Many choose to share their Personalized Pet Memorials they have created to celebrate the life of their pet with others.  Whatever is read, whatever is shared is always held in the strictest confidence by everyone there.  When outside the group, members aren’t free to talk about another member without that member’s permission.  Whatever is shared by the group stays confidential within the group.  Many friendships are made and burdens lifted because they are shared.

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10:41 19 January 2010

Can a Pet Loss Support Group Help?

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When we  lose a beloved companion animal, we need to acknowledge our loss, express our grief and work through our pain.  Friends, family members and even co-workers may not fully understand our grief.  A Pet Loss Support Group may be the only place where we can feel safe to freely express our feelings, to those who are experiencing the same feelings of pain.  We need to talk about our loss, and this may outlast the willingness of those immediately around us to listen.  Often we have a Personalized Pet Memorial,  photos, and stories or tributes to our pet we need to share with someone.  So, a Pet Loss Support group may be the only place  we can go to be among others who undertand, and where we can still talk about the pets we have loved and lost.

Pet Loss Support Groups provide structure and make certain that everyone in the group feels safe to express their feelings, no matter how tender.  Many of us feel awkward or self-conscious about expressing our grief when an animal we love is terminally ill, has gone missing, or has died.  Some people aren’t even sure if they have the legitimate right to grieve the loss of their pets.  Our culture doesn’t help much with this kind of loss either.  There is no automatic time off from work, and there aren’t any formal, public or socially accepted rituals where sorrow can be shared and support obtained from others when it comes to our pets.  But studies show that the more support and understanding we get from others around us, the sooner we’ll come to terms with our loss and the better we’ll cope with our grief.

You can find a Pet Loss Support Group in the yellow pages or local newspaper.  You may also ask your veterinarian, a local radio or television station, a pet cemetery, a  Humane Society agent or even pet groomer if they know of any groups in your area.  Many organizations maintain directories of such organizations specializing in pet loss.  Once you have found a group, make sure it is made up of grievers with whom you can identify and is run by someone knowlegeable about the human-animal bond and the grieving process.

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10:03 19 January 2010

What is a Pet Loss Support Group?

24802714Losing a cherished companion animal is difficult enough, especially when your family, friends and co-workers may not be animal lovers and don’t understand the depth of your loss.  Many people don’t grasp the significance an animal can play in your life, and cannot accept the attachment you had to your pet.  Because of this common problem, Pet Loss Support Groups have been formed in which you may choose to take part to help you get through the grieving process.

A Pet Loss Support Group is often run by volunteers who have lost pets themselves.  They have learned to work through their own grief and are committed to helping others get through the experience too.  The group is organized to help members be able to bear the burden of losing a pet.  It provides a safe, structured place where healthy people can come and share similar experiences and work throught the grieving process together.  They meet on a regular basis to share stories of their pets, learn more about the grieving process, express and work through their feelings, and reflect with others on the meaning of it all.  Often photos are passed around, Pet Memorials shared, and poems, eulogies  or tributes read.  Some larger groups even have professionals who assist them, like bereavement counselors and veterinarians.  They can offer expertise, educational and medical information that may not be otherwise available. 

A Pet Loss Support Group is not a social gathering designed to introduce people to similar interests, nor is it a from of group therapy.  They are not meant to cure long-standing emotional problems, or alter personalities or change anyone’s basic values or beliefs.  It is a group of people who are experiencing the same feelings you are and are available to help you better cope with your grief and come to terms with your loss.  Whenever two or more people share the painful experience of coping with the loss of a cherished companion animal, there is a place for a Pet Loss Support Group.