Pet Grief Support Group
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If you or someone you care about is grieving the loss of a pet – you’re not alone, and we can help! Get support coping with your pet’s death with guidance from a trained therapist in a community of other pet owners like you.
Date & Time: Wednesday May 24th, 6-7pm EDT
Location: FREE Virtual Event
Hosts: Sponsored by Pumpkin, one of the fastest growing pet insurance providers, and facilitated by Alyssa Petersel Landsberger, LMSW, trained therapist & Founder/CEO of MyWellbeing, where you can match with the best possible therapist or coach for you.
Grieving pet owners need more mental health support
95% of people consider their pets to be family.1 But when a beloved pet dies, it’s much more challenging to find the compassion and support needed to navigate their emotions and grief than it would be if they had lost a human family member. We surveyed 3,000 pet owners to better understand pet loss related grief.
The prevalence, and loneliness, of grieving a pet
said the loss of their pet affected them very much emotionally – noting extreme sadness, depression or anxiety
said the sadness they experienced was comparable to the death of an immediate family member or friend
thought that society didn’t understand pet loss related grief or take it as seriously as it should
The symptoms grieving pet owners experience largely mirror those we experience when a human dies
Common symptoms experienced:
experienced dreams of their deceased pet, which is also a common symptom for recently bereaved people, with 58% reporting dreams of the deceased person2
Situational factors and decisions can compound pet loss related grief, at times making it more extreme than grief from losing a human
experienced feelings of guilt and regret, largely influenced by circumstances that made pet owners feel they had “failed” their pet
Situations that compound pet loss related grief:
- Sudden or unexpected passing
- Traumatic death or seeing a pet in pain
- Inability to afford necessary care
- Not being there or seeking care soon enough
- Navigating end-of-life care
- Decisions and experiences around euthanasia
Grieving pet owners are more likely to look to friends and family for support than seek out professional care
looked to a spouse or family for support
looked to one of their friends for support
looked to their pet’s vet for support
looked to support groups or therapists for support
Most pet owners don’t feel comfortable taking time off to grieve the loss of a pet
said they did not take time off work to cope with the death of a pet
said they wouldn’t feel comfortable asking their employer for time off
What grieving pet owners most need or seek out
1. Memorializing their pet
- Creating something to remember their pet
- Having a memorial service
- Sharing their pet’s story and hearing others
2. Adopting another pet
- Prevalence and timing largely depended on circumstances surrounding a pet’s death
3. Professional support & resources
- Articles or resources about pet loss
- Being able to talk to a therapist
- Joining a support group
Other noted sources of comfort or support:
- Receiving condolences from friends and family
- Taking time off from work to cope
- In-home palliative care and/or euthanasia
- Completing a ‘bucket list’ before their pet’s death
The prevalence, and loneliness, of grieving a pet
Tips to process your own pet grief:
- Allow yourself to grieve. We receive a lot of pressure to “get over it.” However, it’s important to honor your loss. Schedule at least five minutes a day to allow yourself to really grieve.
- Provide your mind and body catharsis. Book time for your mind and body to experience relief. Pencil in exercise or a walk with a close friend, even for just 15 minutes, to be reminded of potential joy and optimism.
- Invest in the support that you need. Therapy at its core is a safe space where you can be entirely authentic with how you’re feeling and gain personalized tools and perspective to support you in regaining strength and positivity.
Tips to support someone grieving a pet:
- Offer concrete support. When grieving, chores and to-dos are near impossible. Rather than saying, “how can I help?” – give something specific. For example: send a dinner delivery, a thoughtful card, or a daily meme.
- Identify support. Doing research is often too time-consuming and difficult for someone who is grieving. Identify a couple of support groups and a therapist you can share with them.
- Mark your calendar. After a few weeks, support from community can disappear, but the grief is still there. Set a reminder in your calendar to check in, so they’re reminded how much you care when they may be at their loneliest.
Recently lose a pet? Find a therapist that specializes in pet loss counseling at www.mywellbeing.com
1. The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) in partnership with Zoetis, “International Survey of Pet Owners & Veterinarians.” https://habri.org/pressroom/20220116, Jan 2022.
2. Wright S; Kerr C; Doroszczuk N; Kuszczak S; Hang P; Luczkiewicz D; “The Impact of Dreams of the Deceased on Bereavement: A Survey of Hospice Caregivers.” The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23449603/, Mar 2014.