Dealing with a loss of a pet can be difficult. A pet is in many ways like a member of a family and that loss can bring about great pain unless steps are taken to work through those emotions. To help understand the impact of a pet loss, how someone can recover from a pet loss and the type of help that is available for someone recovering from a pet loss, I have interviewed therapist Wade Green Jr., MA, NCC, LCPC.
Tell me a little bit about yourself
“I am a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and National Certified Counselor currently working in a private practice in Waldorf, Maryland. I have a Masters of Art in Counseling Psychology from Bowie State University.”
“I have been in the mental health field since 1996 and my first position I worked in a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program (PRP) with individuals with severe mental illness, such as, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder. Later, I worked for a community outpatient program where I provided individual therapy to adolescents and adults.”
“I specialize in working with adolescents, adults, and couples with a variety of different issues ranging from behavioral problems, ADHD, depression, anxiety, to marriage problems.”
What type of impact can a loss of a pet have on someone’s overall life?
“Losing a pet is no different from losing a family member, a best friend, or a companion. Pets hold a very special place in the lives of pet owners. They are often the first thing pet owners see in the morning and the last thing pet owners see at night. Pets are very often the first to greet you at the door from a grueling day at work and shower the pet owner with unconditional love. So imagine this loss after their death.”
“The death of a pet often brings depression and a strong sense of loss. Depending on the circumstances of the death their may be feelings of guilt or regret. These feelings often arrive from making the decision to euthanize a pet due to an unrecoverable illness. In most cases the pet owner will experience the five stages of grief. The five stages consist of: (1) Denial and Isolation, (2) Anger, (3) Bargaining, (4) Depression, and (5) Acceptance. The pet owner may not experience all of the stages and they can even skip stages, but all usually experiences depression in some form.”
How can someone recover from a death of a pet?
“The first step a pet owner can do to recover from the death of a pet is to acknowledge that it is okay to feel the loss. It is acceptable to cry. It is all right to discuss the loss of your companion and best friend with a family member or someone who is willing to listen. A very important step for the pet owner is to provide himself or herself with a sense of closure.”
“Closure can come in many forms, such as, a pet burial, an urn or box for cremation, hang pictures of your pet, or a celebration of your pet’s life. It is important that the pet owner do something, which provides a sense of completion for them.”
What type of professional help is available for someone who is grieving a death of a pet?
“When the pet owner feels or recognizes that life has become extremely difficult to manage after the loss of their pet. It may be time to seek the assistance of a professional for help. It is important for the pet owner not to minimize the death of their pet because they believe others will see it as trivial. A loss of something or someone important is still a loss and everyone feels this differently.”
“There are many mental health professionals that can assist in dealing with and managing depression. The best way to find assistance is through your insurance company if you have insurance. If you do not have insurance do a Google search for local mental health professionals or even check the Yellow Pages to see if they are available.”
Thank you for Wade for doing the interview on how to deal with a loss of a pet. For more information about Wade Green or his work you can check out his website on www.pinnaclecenter.com.
How to Recover from a Loss of a Loved One
Surviving Through the Grief Stages