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Grief surrounding pet loss and euthanasia by Grace Harwood

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Grief surrounding pet loss and euthanasia by Grace Harwood

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

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