The impact of pet loss: an update on the research and evidence-based ways to help grieving clients
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Grief on an animal's death is a normal reaction. However, although some support resources are available, including counsellors, helplines and online fora, there is little collective societal understanding of pet owners’ grief. In addition to personal and situational factors (e.g. age, coping style, how the animal died) that may shape or complicate clients’ grief, it may be compounded by guilt and the incomprehension of those around them. Thus, while most bereaved owners can adapt to life without their animal companion, many suffer unnecessarily in the process. Research continues on the complexities of grief for animals, but we still lack evidence for the most effective approaches to supporting bereaved clients. A pragmatic approach would follow the guidelines on human bereavement, using staff training and client-care resources so that: veterinary personnel did not make assumptions about the needs of grieving clients; and all newly bereaved owners received information about diverse support resources before their animals died or at the time of death. This article outlines some of the more recent research pertinent to pet owners’ grief. It also highlights evidence-based approaches to bridging the grief support gap with clients.
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