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Losing a pet is difficult

CARE & EMPATHY

A GROWING NEED

Today, pets are so much more than just companions. Many of us think of them as part of the family, and when a pet leaves us, it can leave a big hole in our lives. The hurt can show up in a wide range of ways – from pain to numbness to overwhelming (and sometimes debilitating) sadness.

For Joan, a 54-year-old single woman who lost a cat to cancer, it took a long time for the symptoms of grief to register. “Perhaps it was because of my childhood and growing up on a farm. We just didn’t value pets the same way. One day it just dawned on me that what I was feeling was embarrassment. I felt silly for being so upset, like losing Fresca shouldn’t have thrown me so far off…” she said. “But it did. I was a real mess and it wasn’t until I saw a counsellor almost a year later that I was able to really grieve for her, to let her go. And with that came a lot of crying, jags of it, that I had kind of pent up.”

For those of us who've lost a beloved pet, we may have experienced help and kindhearted support from the staff at our veterinary clinic during those trying days. But for many who lose a pet quietly, or in countless other ways, such as a sudden accident or even through a slow decline into older age, those feelings of grief don’t get dealt with and can impact our lives, our emotions and our well-being in a wide variety of ways.

“Another thing we’ve seen that makes pet loss so challenging is that business owners typically don’t offer time off, flexibility or even some kind of acknowledgement of the loss of a pet,” says Dr. Debbie Stoewen, Care & Empathy Officer (CEO) at Pets Plus Us. Pets Plus Us has recognized the need for pet owner bereavement support. As a veterinarian and a social worker, Dr. Debbie’s unique blend of expertise has made her somewhat of an opinion leader on the subject of pet bereavement in Canada. Working with Pets Plus Us is allowing her to not only design and deliver a special benefit for member pet owners who need bereavement support, but through her role, also help Canadian pet owners learn more about this often overlooked experience of pet ownership. 

If you are a Pets Plus Us Member and would like to speak with Dr. Debbie, you may have an Advocate schedule an appointment for you by calling 1-800-364-8422. For questions, you may contact Dr. Debbie directly at support@petsplusus.com. 

Contextual Articles

Dr. Debbie Stoewen, CEO (Care & Empathy Officer)
MEET OUR CEO (CARE & EMPATHY OFFICER)

As the Care & Empathy Officer, Dr. Debbie combines a sensitive understanding of the human-animal bond with a therapeutic approach to help people heal from the loss of a pet, believing that life's greatest challenges can be opportunities for personal growth.

Support for pet loss
DO I - OR ONE OF MY FAMILY MEMBERS - NEED SUPPORT?

The loss of a dear pet parallels other significant losses we have in life. Some people like to deal with these challenges and the emotions that accompany them privately in their own way.

Grieving the loss of a pet
COPING WITH THE LOSS OF A PET

Dr. Debbie offers these helpful tips to help pet owners get through the grief due to pet loss

Grieving for a lost pet
DIFFERENT KINDS OF LOSS - DIFFERENT KINDS OF GRIEF

Sometimes the loss of a pet is complicated by other situations or emotional factors, so the grief that’s experienced is not really straightforward.