Pet Loss Support Resources
Working at an organization that financially assists with pet cancer treatment and education regarding pet cancer, the FETCH team sees a lot of loss and grief. It comes with the territory. Anyone who has experienced a significant loss knows that our feelings and actions can be mixed and irrational—we can be sad and relieved and angry, we can throw ourselves into our work or just lay in bed, unable to do anything; we sometimes go right out and adopt another pet because we can’t stand not hearing the shake of a collar or the click-clack of nails across the kitchen floor. Sometimes we don’t want to talk about it at all and just keep it bottled inside to deal with ourselves, to mourn privately.
But sometimes we do want to talk to someone about it. Sometimes we need someone to listen. Sometimes, we want to hear from someone with a similar experience, someone who may not know exactly how we feel, but has come close to it.
Rachel and Butterbean
Rachel Friedman found us when her cat, Butterbean, was out of options. Rachel and Butterbean’s bond ran deep: “His litter was born at my parent’s house and I witnessed his birth,” writes Rachel. Butterbean followed Rachel to college and stuck by her side. “Butterbean went everywhere with me. He was with me through all of my adult relationships and through a marriage and divorce. I consider him my best friend because he has been with me through just about everything and has always remained my loyal sidekick. We had a strong bond and everyone knew we were two peas in a pod.”
With FETCH a Cure, Rachel not only found financial assistance for Butterbean’s lymphoma, she received emotional support. “Not only did they provide financial assistance for Butterbean’s medical expenses, I felt like everyone there really cared about him and wanted updates on how he was doing.”
After Butterbean succumbed to his illness, says Rachel, “I continued volunteering for FETCH a Cure when I could and became active with the Pen Pals program, fostering dogs and taking them to adoption and awareness events on the weekends. I also had the opportunity to participate in planning meetings of the annual fundraising gala as well as film a small segment for a fundraising video with Butterbean’s handsome picture in the background. Every time I work an event, it’s another chance to talk about Butterbean to others who are going through the same process. And even though his treatment wasn’t successful, I still feel a connection with other owners who are currently going through it. It’s like a secret club that no one wishes they were a member of, but are grateful that they aren’t alone in it.”
There are many resources available for those of us grieving for pets. We have listed just a few that may help you or someone you love get through the loss of a beloved pet.
FETCH a Cure’s Pet Loss Support Group: This complimentary group, led by experienced psychologist Dr. Leslie Greenberg, meets twice a month. Families (including children) are invited to attend these support sessions to help work through the pain of losing a beloved companion.
FETCH a Cure’s Pet Cancer Support Group: This complimentary group meets on the third Thursday of the month to give participants the opportunity to share their experience with others who are pursuing treatment for their pet or have been through the pet cancer journey in the past.
FETCH a Cure’s Pet Cancer Support Facebook Group: This closed Facebook group was started to have experienced parents of pets affected by cancer to give advice and guidance to pet parents who are going through similar situations. Loss and grief can begin with a diagnosis and speaking with people who have gone through the same thing can be very helpful.
VCU Pet Loss Support: This page provides resources for those who are experiencing the loss of a pet, including telephone support for participating organization and clinics. Companions in Crisis recipients can receive telephone support from mental health professionals.
The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement offers chat rooms, articles, and other resources on pet loss.