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Pets: Loss & Grief Dr. Millie Cordaro, LPC-I Texas State University Department of Psychology.

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Presentation on theme: "Pets: Loss & Grief Dr. Millie Cordaro, LPC-I Texas State University Department of Psychology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Pets: Loss & Grief Dr. Millie Cordaro, LPC-I Texas State University Department of Psychology

2 Pet Ownership According to the 2009/2010 National Pet Owners Survey, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, which equates to 71.4 millions homes Total Number of Pets Owned in the U.S. (millions) Bird 15.0 Cat 93.6 Dog 77.5 * Ownership statistics are gathered from APPA’s 2009/2010 National Pet Owners Survey

3 Spending Estimated 2010 Sales within the U.S. Market For 2010, it estimated that $47.7 billion will be spent on our pets in the U.S. Breakdown: Food $18.28 billion Supplies/OTC Medicine $11.01 billion Vet Care $12.79 billion Live animal purchases $2.21 billion Pet Services: grooming & boarding $3.45 billion * Ownership statistics are gathered from APPA’s 2009/2010 National Pet Owners Survey

4 Subjective Well-being Pets contribute to physical and emotional health Pets provide sense of being needed

5 Subjective Well-being Pets provide emotional attachment bond When experiencing emotional distress, dog owners more likely to turn to their dogs for support

6 Family Pets are perceived by pet owners as part of the family Pets can act as surrogate friends & family

7 Breaking of the Bond The death or loss of a pet has a marked effect on emotional well-being People can experience a grief response to the loss of a pet similar to the loss of a significant person

8 Breaking of the Bond The deeper the attachment, the more intense the grief reaction

9 Breaking of the Bond In order to get past our grief, we must go through it

10 Grief Cycle DenialAngerBargainingDepressionAcceptance Not everyone goes through every stage or in sequential order

11 Grief Process Denial: – numbness & disbelief – Mind’s way of processing facts

12 Grief Process Anger: – typical grief reaction – Underneath anger is hurt.

13 Grief Process Bargaining: – Wanting to do anything to spare the loss of your pet – Feeling of guilt common – Hindsight bias

14 Grief Process Depression: – Normal and appropriate grief reaction. – Along with feelings of emptiness, grief occurs at deeper levels. – We may..

15 Grief Process Acceptance: – Confused with being “OK” about the situation. – Accepting new reality – Redistribute emotional energy

16 Grief Reactions Preoccupation with thoughts or memories about the pet Diminished ability to concentrate on other tasks

17 Grief Reactions Anticipatory grief occurs prior to the loss of a pet Grief triggers

18 Individual Differences People living alone or who have limited social contact Age and personality of owner

19 Disenfranchised Grief Grief hidden, unrecognized or underestimated There is a lack of social recognition

20 Disenfranchised Grief Grief reactions and rituals for mourning deceased pets tend to be discouraged

21 Disenfranchised Grief Friends and family may unintentionally appear insensitive to pet loss- related grief May keep people from fully grieving the loss when a pet dies

22 Disenfranchised Grief When people feel that there grief is unworthy of public acknowledgement, the grief process stagnates

23 Disenfranchised Grief Grief experienced within social context Fear ridicule for openly expressing grief Underlying invisibility or stigma

24 Disenfranchised Grief Should grief surrounding the loss of a pet be undervalued? Need to tease apart pet loss as a disenfranchised grief

25 Support for the Grieving Acknowledge the grief – Cry when you need to – Seek out empathic family or friends – Frame picture to be kept next to urn or grave stone – Write down all memories or eulogy in a journal. Select a time/date to read eulogy aloud once urn/ grave prepared. – Send a card or donate money to organization in pets name. Make sure griever is sent notice that money donated in pet’s name. – National Pet Memorial Day is second Sunday in September

26 Support for the Grieving If you need additional support Toll Free Hotlines – PetFriends, Inc. 24-hour service ( PETS) – Iowa State University ( ) Support Groups – Human Society of Austin and Travis County ( ext. 226) – Furry Angels In Heaven Pet Loss Support Group (Pflugerville, ) Counseling – Pet loss counselor – Counselors specializing in grief/ loss

27 Questions? Millie Cordaro, Ph.D., LPC-I


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