At Veterinary Specialty Center, we not only strive for excellent care for your pet, but we also hope to serve and care for you as much as we can. We understand losing a companion animal can be devastating. We raise them as our own, care for them, snuggle them, train them, and make them an important part of our lives. They can even talk back! We also often have much less complicated relationships with them than we do with other humans because they don’t hold grudges or judge you (for too long), don’t talk behind your back, and arguments are pretty one-sided. They’re always there for you when you need them. That special kind of relationship is unfortunately also why we struggle so much when we lose them.
It’s an inevitable fact that they have a significantly shorter life span than we do. Because not everyone chooses to make a pet part of the family, sometimes we have others in our lives who make unintentionally invalidating and harmful comments like, “Just go get a new dog” or “it’s just a cat”. This may come from family, friends, or acquaintances and can make us feel ashamed to feel the grief we are struggling with. It likely is not meant to be harsh or mean as many don’t understand the relationship between you and your companion.
What’s important to remember is that no one can tell you what your grief is “supposed” to look or feel like or deny you of grieving. In my clinical work, I’ve seen nearly every emotion make an appearance in grief; sadness, anger, guilt, shame, frustration, numbness, confusion, and even happiness. These emotions may catch you by surprise and come in waves, spurring other emotions. You are entitled to your grief, your emotions, and deserve to take your time and begin to incorporate this loss into your life. While the pain may feel unbearable now, there are resources out here to help you make it through while honoring your relationship with your companion.
I am one of those resources. I’m a licensed clinical social worker here on-site at VSC and am available to speak with you regarding your loss or anticipated loss. You deserve some validation and a safe place to process your grief and I am a free resource for you. I can also get you in contact with other individual and group therapists or our free virtual animal loss/grief support group run by our past licensed clinical professional counselor, Becky.
For more guidance and information, look through the tabs under Client Counseling Services. Feel free to reach out to me via email or phone and leave me a message. Read here for our workbook on grief and loss of an animal if you’d like to start processing on your own- “Goodbye and Beyond: A Workbook for Those Enduring the Loss of a Companion Animal”.
John Mysz | Licensed Clinical Social Worker