Love is Love. And Grief is Grief.
Unfortunately, the truth of that statement is not readily accepted when the love and the grief are for a being who isn’t human.
I have been a Grief Counselor since 2004. While the majority of those years were spent in human hospice, in 2017 I had the great good fortune to join a wonderful company called Lap of Love in the relatively new world of veterinary hospice.
There, I have met some of my most challenging and most rewarding grief counseling clients as they share with me their experiences following the death of a beloved animal.
In clinical terms, the death of an animal companion is commonly referred to as a “Disenfranchised Loss”. This term was coined by grief researcher Ken Doka back in the 1990’s as, “Grief that persons experience when they incur a loss that is not or cannot be openly acknowledged, socially sanctioned or publicly mourned”.
While there is truth in Doka’s definition, I have always found the term to be a hurtful, albeit sanitized, way of saying to someone, “Your loss is not really a loss. Therefore, the grief you’re feeling isn’t really grief.” Certainly that has been the experience of so many of the bereaved women and men with whom I speak every day.
In honour of this devastated and all too often disregarded community, I am shifting the focus of Embracing Your Grief from general grief to the more specific grief experienced upon the death of a beloved animal.
Of course, this shift in focus is in no way meant to be exclusionary. Love is love and grief is grief, and all forms of grief are welcome here at EYG. It simply means that now, in addition to articles, posts, and tools about general grief, EYG will also provide resources and information specific to the experience of animal loss.
I will also be expanding the EYG Facebook presence, so please be sure to join us there as well.
Thank you in advance for your patience as I continue updating the site. Please do let me know your thoughts, suggestions, and questions for how you might like to see EYG evolve.