According to hospice philosophy, and with animals even more so than humans, “the family” has little to do with the caregivers’ blood relatives. Family includes all those in your innermost circle of trust and for some, may unfortunately just include you as guardian, and your animal friend. This is NOT a preferred situation in end of life and if you find yourself there, then it’s time for you to reach out.
Sometimes, those supportive people will be outside your usual circles, for we don’t want to “burden them” with the relentless day-to-day concerns we are having. This is why human hospice programs have volunteers that come to the home. You know that kind of dedication means they feel passionately about helping others in their healing.
Consider our Animal Caregivers’ Support Circle if you are in greater Seattle and/or a shelter’s and/or a human hospice support group in your area. Often facilitated by well-qualified professionals, they occur regularly and you can count on them to be sensitive to your loss of a loved one. Often facilitators are volunteering to help in this way, and so fees are kept low or on a donations-only basis.
Michelle Nichols, M.S., pet loss counselor and AHELP Executive Director