Held quarterly on a Saturday morning, attendees of the Pet Loss Support Group work through the emotions they experience when dealing with the loss of a pet.
Most who come to the group bring a photo of their pet with them, says bereavement counselor Jessica Roschen. The photo is a way for them to introduce the group to the animal they loved and are grieving.
Grief is a natural reaction to the loss of a pet, she says. In addition to that grief, some may feel guilt, and, for others, the loss may even bring back memories and emotions of past losses of pets and loved ones.
“There are a lot of people that don’t understand pet loss and feel that you should get over it right away,” says Roschen, “but we say you have every right to grieve your pet.”
Many come for one or two sessions to work through their grief; others may need individual counseling to help them cope, says Roschen. In addition to the support group, the McGinnis Bereavement Center has a host of books on pet loss or adults and children alike.
And, like the loss of a person, there’s no set timeline for grieving the death of an animal.
Roschen suggested a few tips to cope with a pet’s death. They include:
• Journaling your feelings
• Memorializing your pet, whether it’s holding on to their ashes, planting a tree in their honor or donating supplies to an animal shelter
• Waiting a while before exploring the possibility of welcoming a new pet into the home
The next Pet Loss Support Group will take place on Saturday, January 11 from 10:30 a.m. – noon at Carroll Hospice’s Dove House, 292 Stoner Ave., Westminster. The group is open to adults 18 and older, and registration is required by calling 410-871-7656.
Purchase an ornament in honor of a pet to be hung on the Pet Tree during Carroll Hospice’s A Season to Remember event on Monday, December 2. Visit our website to learn more.