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Dealing with Pet Loss Grief; Now it's About YOU

Doodles is gone and you can’t stop crying inside.

No dog – or cat – lives long enough but she was special being with you for just 6 years.

Friends were supportive but maybe a day or two. And that’s all you could really expect. No one said anything stupid which was more than you could ever hope for.

But she’s gone. And you still see her. You see her walking into the room carrying her favorite doll, the one with only one arm. You see her sleeping in her bed although you donated it to the animal rescue that helped you adopt her. She nudges you for dinner or a treat although you gave them all her food and cookies, too.

You can’t see straight for there are tears in your eyes. You’ve lost pets before and it’s always been hard, so hard. But this is different. You just moved to a new neighborhood and you are living alone. You recently changed jobs. Your favorite sister now lives in California.

This time is different.

There is really nothing to take your mind off Doodles. You go to the park to see your friends there but that’s possibly the worst thing you can do, watching all her friends jump and play and she’s not there.

You walk. But you feel the leash in your hand and people stop you and ask where she is.

Bad idea.

You’re in Brooklyn so there is help if you want it. There is help in person and there is help on the phone.

In person (group meetings are free):

Hope Animal Hospital 390 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11217

Hosts a support group at 7:00 every Thursday facilitated by either Juliet Sternberg, LMSW, Zoe Fasolo, LMSW You may also contact them for one-on-one counseling if your prefer.

Animal Medical Center 510 E 62nd St, New York, NY 10065 Hosts a support group at 6:15 every other Thursday

Facilitated by their social worker, Judith Harbour.

Understanding on the phone:

ASPCA has a grief counseling phone hotline run by Dr. Stephanie LaFarge, one of the originators of the field of grief counseling for pets. 877-GRIEF-10 or 877-474-3310 A number of veterinary schools have courses in the equivalent of bedside manner and offer phone counseling. Sometimes are staffed by the faculty who teach, others are staffed by students under faculty supervision. Please note, unlike a suicide hotline that is covered 24/7/365, sometimes you will leave a message and a counselor will return your call shortly. If you are not comfortable with the counselor who first calls you back, thank him or her politely and try another source of help.

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support Hotline: 607-253-3932

Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support Hotline: 508-839-7966

Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine Pet Loss Support Hotline: 517-432-2696

University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine Social Work Helpline: 865-755-8839

As John, Paul, George and Ringo observed, “I get by with a little help from my friends.” Sometimes those friends are new friends in person or over the phone.

But now it’s about you.

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