Support Groups for Pet Loss and GriefMay 25, 2022
Why does it feel so especially hard to cope with the loss of a pet? What makes the grief and loss support and recovery community feel open for human loss but closed for pet loss? If you are suffering through the loss of a soul pet, where can you go to find a support group that will treat you with the true empathy and compassion you need and deserve? Animal communicator Shannon Cutts shares resources to help you make it through after losing a pet.
Grief is grief. Loss is loss. Strip away the who or what or how and on the inside it feels basically the same. It impacts us deeply just the same.
Which means when we are going through a loss - any loss - our heart deserves to be treated with gentleness. Tenderness. Loving kindness.
Luckily, it would seem the days when loss of a pet would be filed under the header "but it's just an animal!" are numbered.
Finally, we are beginning to advocate for the deep connection we feel with our pets and the shattering impact loss of a pet can have on us.
Perhaps the isolation of the pandemic now gives us courage. Or maybe we just no longer care about the opinions of anyone who sees an animal - our animal - as "just" an animal. After all, we are animals too.
(When my dad died 10 months ago this month, if anyone had dared imply he was "just a man" as a justification for why I should get over my grief faster, I would have punched them in the face. Seriously.)
Now, there are parts of the grief journey where we need to walk alone. It just feels that personal, that mystical or surreal. Yet aren't there times when you just really long for somebody to talk to who will listen, hold space, laugh or cry with you? These sad stretches of time are something we all share in common. And the truth is, pet people want to be with pet people when our hearts are tenderized by pet loss and grief.
So let's talk about where you can find true empathic support during your pet's end of life transition and beyond, after their physical body has succumbed and their soul has crossed back over to the other side. I truly hope these eight hand-picked online free pet grief group resources will support you as you move through your unique grief journey.
- PetCloud pet grief support group.
My friend and colleague Maribeth Decker of Sacred Grove wrote a wonderful blog post about finding support after your pet has passed. One resource she highlighted is PetCloud. Attend a free virtual pet loss support group each Sunday. Other offerings include lost pet support groups and a grief recovery workshop.
Learn more about PetCloud's Sunday pet grief support group
2. Marcia Zais bi-monthly online pet bereavement group.
Another friend and colleague, Marcia Zais, offers a free bi-monthly online pet grief support group as a part of her work as a pet death doula. I have personally attended this group and can attest Marcia is compassionate and wise as well as extremely empathic.
Learn more about Marcia's pet bereavement group
3. Rainbow Bridge pet loss grief support community.
While the portal is somewhat old-school, you will find a wealth of online resources at this site, including a list of pet loss hotlines and a place to memorialize your pet (for free).
Visit the Rainbow Bridge online pet loss support community
4. Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement free support groups.
The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement offers several options (available with a free Bronze membership) for free pet grief support via chat rooms and video conferencing.
Visit the APLB to find free chat rooms and video meetings for pet grief support
5. PetLoss.com pet grief support, candle lighting ceremony and pet loss chat forum.
As with some of the other resources, the website may leave a bit to be desired in terms of design. But it only takes a moment to sign up (for free) to visit the pet loss chat room and you can also sign up to participate in the weekly free candle lighting ceremony.
Visit PetLoss.com for pet grief support via chat
6. Lap of Love Online pet loss support groups.
Lap of Love is a nationwide (USA) veterinary hospice that also offers several free online pet grief support groups each week. You can register to attend up to two free pet loss support group meetings each week.
Visit Lap of Love to learn more about their free virtual pet loss support groups
7. Anti-Cruelty Society monthly pet loss support group meeting.
The Anti-Cruelty Society offers a monthly 1.5 hour virtual (Zoom) pet loss support group meeting called "Working Through Pet Loss." The group moderator is a trained grief counselor. You can sign up for free.
Sign up for the Working Through Pet Loss monthly virtual support group meeting
8. Chicago Veterinary Medical Association Wings virtual pet grief support group
The CVMA hosts a free pet grief support group meeting on Wednesday nights via Zoom. The meetings are 1.5 hours long and are free to anyone affected by pet loss.
Request a Zoom link to join the CVMA Wings virtual pet loss support group
In closing....I will be honest. In my world, there really isn't any such thing as "getting over" the loss of a pet.
But there is a path to get through the initial throes of grief without feeling like you have to just bear up in stoic silence (or, alternately, crumble alone under the weight of your loss).
I hope these free online pet grief and loss support resources will bring you comfort and relief from the often isolating experiencing of losing an animal companion.
The work I do through animal communication for pets in spirit can also be extremely supportive and nurturing at any point during your pet's hospice, end of life transition and passage back across the Rainbow Bridge. Please reach out - I can help.
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