Article by adjunct faculty, Dalma Heyn, Pet-Loss Grief Specialist, Psychotherapist
I know that the last thing in the world most of us need is another blogger writing another blog.
But on this site, in the company of Dr. Jeff, Dr.Christina, Dr.Sara, Dr. Jean, Amy, Gail and Jennifer — and so many other of the most caring and loving professionals, it’s hard not to revel in the extraordinary, life-changing feelings we have for our companion animals. As a pet-loss grief therapist, I also encounter true heartbreak among those who have lost their companion animals.
Unlike the grief we feel when we lose family and friends, this grief seems to me to be distinctly different (in ways we’ll discuss in this blog). And we rarely think to get professional help for the grief we feel for a dog who dies at age 15, or a cat who runs away.
Family members say, “Rover lived a long life! Be grateful!” and “Puffy must have found a happy home by now.” I believe that’s not good enough. Because, for many of us who’ve just lost our best friend, being told to get over it not only misses the point, but being misunderstood and emotionally abandoned in this way can leave us feeling all alone with our misery.
Heartbreak needs help. There’s no way to attend to the overwhelming sorrow of pet loss if you do nothing. Sorrow will simply stay put, overwhelming you, even turning in time into something worse and even longer lasting. So this blog will, I hope, share what I’ve learned about pet love and pet loss, in the hope that it awakens some readers to the power of this extraordinary bond and the importance of honoring it.
I hope this blog proves to worthy of your attention! Until next time.
Click here to see all Dalma’s posts.
Dalma Heyn, MSW, LMSW, is a therapist, author and certified pet-loss grief specialist, who lives at the Connecticut shore with her scruffy, fluffy Havanese, Luna. Dalma graduated from The University of Southern California with a degree in psychology and English, and from New York University with a MA degree in social work.
Speaking and writing about human intimate relationships for so many years brought her to another kind of intimate relationship: the one we have with our companion animals. Dalma finds that many aspects of this love are woefully underestimated, for reasons she discusses here with other passionate readers on this site. Her mission is to shed light on this important reciprocal love–which she believes can transform the inevitable loss of our pets from an unbearable experience to a meaningful and healing one. Dalma is now available for consultations for our members.