What does the child want?Staff – make it the best possible processFamilies/staff – explain what will happenRemember age appropriate responses – 8 year old boys are often much more interested I what will happen to the body once it is in the ground that the actual dying experience
Grief Surrounding Pet Loss and Euthanasia UQ Veterinary Student Association
Grace Harwood BSoc Sc (Pastoral Counselling), BTh, MACA, MFPCQ, CCAA (Grad) Ipswich Hospice Care Inc Manager of Hilda’s House Bereavement Support – pre and post death
What would you like to know? What would you like to walk away from this session with?
Our own experiences: Have you had an animal die? When you think back to this time: What was helpful? What would you do differently?
When you think about this topic, what worries or concerns you most?
Euthanasing: When – When is the right time? Why – What is the owner’s motivation? How do we feel about it? Who – Who will be present? Do they understand the process? Will you be able to give them an opportunity to say goodbye? Where – Where and when will it take place? Where will the body go? How – How will it take place? How do we handle it? How do we negotiate payment?
Definitions LOSS: To be deprived of someone or something that holds great meaning. GRIEF: all the emotions and physical responses both surrounding and related to the loss BEREAVEMENT: The journey in which one experiences grief MOURNING: The outward expression of the loss we have experienced – eg rituals, clothing, candles, roadside signs etc
Common Problems with Pet Loss Disenfranchised Grief This is the grief associated with a loss that is not: Openly acknowledged Publicly mourned Socially supported
Common responses to grief FEELINGS Sadness Anger Guilt Anxiety Loneliness Yearning Fatigue Helplessness Shock Numbness Relief Depression Regret Abandonment BEHAVIOURS Sleep disturbance Over-activity Sighing Restlessness Absent-mindedness Appetite disturbance Social withdrawl Crying Dreams of the deceased Lack of concentration Regression
Common responses to grief THOUGHTS Disbelief Confusion Pre-occupation Sense of presence Hallucinations PHYSICAL SENSATIONS Hollowness in the stomach Oversensitivity to noise Tightness in the chest and throat Dry mouth Weakness in muscles Fatigue Breathlessness Lack of energy
Impact of Other Losses A previous significant loss can exacerbate the loss of a pet. The loss of a pet can involve secondary losses. Early losses in childhood are considered highly significant contributors to the likely success of the integration of later losses. Murray, 2006
Children’s Grief Should children be present at euthanasing?
Children’s Grief: What do they need? Reassurance Information and honest answers Patience and support Time to adjust Routines and stability Language which is understood People who accept and a place to express their emotions Adapted from Brown. 2001
Hint: Avoid Euphemisms Snuffed out Kicked the bucket Gone to sleep Taken by Jesus Passed away/on Popped his clogs Crossed over Pushing up daisies Lost Gone to meet his maker Put him/her down Gone to the happy hunting ground ……
What helps people who have lost a pet? Being listened to Being believed about their relationship with their pet Having their loss validated Having an opportunity to express the depth of their loss Opportunities to ritualise the loss Linking with others who have experienced similar losses Counselling/support
Services you could provide: Sympathy card Referral to pet burial/cremation services Referral to counselling/support Brochures about Pet Loss and Grief ……