As HelpGuide.org astutely points out, "One aspect that can make grieving for the loss of a pet so difficult is that pet loss is not appreciated by everyone. Some friends and family may say, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a pet!” Some people assume that pet loss shouldn’t hurt as much as human loss, or that it is somehow inappropriate to grieve for an animal. They may not understand because they don’t have a pet of their own or are unable to appreciate the companionship and love that a pet can provide."
Sometimes, you may need to lean on others outside of your regular circle to provide some emotional support after losing a beloved pet. In-person and virtual support groups, as well as individual counseling, are wonderful options for anyone who is in need of comfort and guidance.
PET LOSS AND GRIEF COUNSELING
Pet Loss & Grief Counseling
Supporting the Human-Animal Bond
Lisa Havelin MFA, MA, LMFT
Mendota Heights, MN
Lisa is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and her area of specialty and inspiration is in working with individuals and families who consider an animal to be part of their family. She specializes in mindfulness-based grief counseling, end-of-life planning, and euthanasia decision making as these relate to human-animal relationships.
AERC Pet Loss Support Group
Animal Emergency & Referral Center of Minnesota offers a Pet Loss Support Group that meets at their Oakdale location on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 7-8:30pm. In November and December, the group is held on the third Tuesday due to the holidays.
The group is co-facilitated by Colleen, a licensed social worker, and Heidi, the Chief Marketing Officer. The two of them, along with grieving pet owners who attend the group, can provide some insight into what the loss of a pet means, along with just being there to listen and understand. They don’t require reservations for the group, but they are appreciated so that they know whom to expect. This group is currently meeting via Zoom.
Pet Loss and Terminal Illness Support Group
Dina Clabaugh, LICSW, is the facilitator of this group and has experience and a passion for providing grief therapy and support. She is a Compassionate Bereavement Care® provider.
This support group welcomes anyone who has been affected by the loss of a companion animal or is caring for a terminally ill pet. The group meets virtually on Zoom the first Monday of every month from 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
VetVine Virtual Pet Loss Support Groups
The VetVine® Virtual Pet Loss Support service supports people grieving the loss of an animal in their life - whether due to the death of a pet or loss of a relationship with an animal of any kind due to any circumstance. This is a space where individuals can share with others who just get it (the pain associated with loss), and be supported by the guidance and resources shared by experienced professionals in pet loss and grief support. Individual (one-to-one) and group support sessions are available.
Companion Animal Love, Loss & Memories Group (CALLM)
University of Minnesota; St. Paul, MN
The University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center (VMC) offers a biweekly bereavement group to support those grieving the loss of a beloved animal. Whether you are facing an imminent or recent death, the CALLM group will provide you with a supportive and confidential environment in which to share your story. CALLM sessions are facilitated by the staff of VMC Social Work Services on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. All group attendees must call in advance for pre-screening and to reserve a seat. They also offer individual and couples sessions.
CGES Pet Loss Support Group
Seasons Hospice; Rochester, MN
The Center for Grief Education and Support (CGES) at Seasons Hospice in Rochester, Minnesota provides comprehensive loss and grief services for those who are grieving. This group provides a supportive, non-judgmental environment for pet owners who have lost a pet through death to share with others who have experienced pet loss. Meets monthly; children and families are welcome. Please note: a therapy dog/handler team may be present for some sessions. (Second Wednesday of each month; times may vary)
MN Pets Grief Support Email Series
"You have lost a dear friend. The grief you feel after losing a beloved pet is natural and can be very intense. We have written a series of messages to help you reflect on, move through, and heal from your loss. For the next month, you’ll receive a new message every few days that is written especially for what you are experiencing."
Coping with Grief
Articles with information and tips on grief.