Home>Latest Shows>>Dove Lewis Pet Loss Program 031316

Dove Lewis Pet Loss Program 031316

Mar 9, 2016|

AN INTERVIEW WITH ENID TRAISMAN, CERTIFIED GRIEF COUNSELOR AND DIRECTOR OF THE PET LOSS SUPPORT PROGRAM AT DOVE LEWIS ABOUT GRIEVING PET LOSS AND THE SUPPORT FROM THE ANIMAL HOSPITAL.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

This is McChrystal in Entercom radio Portland public affairs program. I'm during blocks of here in the Portland metro area we are all pet lovers. And if you pet passes away you might need some help with the grieving process and that's what this shows about. This month so I'd like to welcome you retracement she's a certified grief counselor and the director of the pet loss support program for gov lewis' trainer. Thanks very happy absolutely so I think we should get started today by learning about you tell me about your history and now you started doing all. Smirk. Gladly well. And it all started thirty years ago. I had graduated from that Portland State masters in social work program could and I was doing grief work. And found it to be really rewarding career path. And I've always been an animal lover and around that time I read a book. About it pet loss support that was happening on the East Coast. And honest to dad Gary if the trumpets could've Blair I felt like it was my colleague where I could do grief work with people who are suffering the death of a companion animal. In 1986 this was not really talked about yet. It was sort of a disenfranchised grief as we college degree that was invisible so people didn't receive support. And once I had that idea I went about it. And visiting different veterinary hospitals saying hey I can do a couple of support group for you. But it was too soon they were horrified and they're like no thank you we want people to come here because we help fix their pets. But when I made my a proposal to adopt Louis which was a nonprofit 24 hour emergency animal hospital. They liked the idea they understood the benefit and they said sure so for the first seven years I voluntarily. Ran the support group and they provided the space and also had the pressures printed. Insisting he probably started out this career thinking you're India counselor for humans. And I am okay humans that are growing in the death of their patent their you have absolutely I was able to combine my love for animals and to my desire to help people. And Portland is probably the best place for you to be because we love our animals. It has been amazing and it is true you know that so many people here really do. Love their pets and they involve them in their daily activities their part of the family. And so you can imagine when you lose a family member you experience a deep sense of loss and beef deep grief. And one of the ways to work through their grief is to have support and understanding. And tools. And we're very lucky in the Portland community to have a place where. Where people can come and share their stories and open their hearts and share their photos and not be judged but be supported. Why do you think it was met with such resistance back in the mid eighties. Our relationships with our animals have changed. In the past three decades. Back in the late eighties there were people who definitely adored their pets but for many people their pets where. A companion animal that lived in the backyard. That that they. You know just sort of took care of it may be guarded their house. And as time moved down that relationship. Grew with more people the animals went from our backyard into our venture at least. And all of our different daily activities. And so as the relationship changed. They. Depth of the grief changed also so there are more people now who are grieving the death of a pet back in 1985. You know we may have known people who are very sad when their pets died but we didn't know how to treat them how to support them. And so people just sort of stuffed that grief and sort of you know pulled up their bootstraps and moved on but that left scars. And in the past three decades that I've been running this program. There are now. For a briefing cards for pets even hallmark makes pet you know cards in I'm sorry for the death of your pet. And there are many many books available whereas when I started the group there were maybe two or three books. And so it was the beginning of this growing field it was just I think. Timing and and the desire to do this pets arm maybe more intimate in our lives then there's the more than they used to be an absolutely. I mean our world is so full of changes we have people who are move seen. At two different parts of the country away from family but their companion animal will move with them. There are people his relationships and they have divorces but the constant in her life is their companion animal. And so. We can share so much with them enhance that. You know that amazing connection. And continuity in our life with a companion animal that we sometimes don't have and other areas of our lives. How does the grief over the death of an pat compared to the grief event of a human. I'll tell you it's really more about the depth of the relationship. Then. The loved one who your machine and so. If you love your human very much you'll greet them deeply if you loved your companion animal very much you will greet them differently. One thing that I here in the pet loss support group. Often has people very. Nervously say I didn't feel this nervous this sad when it my parents are my grandparent die what's wrong with me. And I like to help people realize that it doesn't mean that they loved one. More or less. But when we lose a companion animal the triggers of their options are constant. Because we opened the door we come home from work and their their degree dust we wake up in the morning and their their degree yes we dropped foot off the counter and they're there to eat it. We Steven with so many of our routines and rituals. And we take care of them like a parent would take care the child they're dependent upon us for their wellbeing but with the human. Loved him like a grandparent. Or parent you've already moved away from them and so you may go days or weeks without talking to them or without seeing them so you are triggered you're reminded. That they're gone I'm such an intense basis. So you know the grief. Is more about it. Feeling the pain of their loss and and with the companion animal that just it really hits hard in the beginning is the grieving process. Very much the same yes the grieving process would be very much the same it again with some support and understanding. The ability of the human spirit to cope and Gil is immense where able to do it. It's pretty amazing didn't tell us about some of the programs that we knew go to Doug Lewis looking for support for a loss of the pet. Tell us about some of those things are you get that up Louis. Well we're really lucky at dove flew us we have highly trained staff who have all I've gone through training. With me about grief anything Asia and memorializing. And so when somebody who comes there who is anticipating the lost they have compassionate and caring and knowledgeable people who can help them. Through this process. Four and a flight decisions. We have our our staff who can really help people understand that it may be in the animal's best interest to choose euthanasia because. Of quality of life. When a person makes that difficult decision to euthanize we have a special room designed called the comfort room. And this is different than our regular exam rooms it's looks more like a living room. And it has dim lighting and it has a couch and it's an environment where a person or family can spend time with her companion animal as they prepare to say goodbye. And they can even be with them and hold them while the doctor performs the euthanasia. Procedure. Euthanasia is. A very gentle and humane transition from life to no more life. It's a very difficult decision for a person to make because you've got a Tug of war between love and logic you know I don't wanna decide the data my loved one dies on one hand. But I don't want them to suffer on the other end and that term euthanasia comes from the Greek term meaning a good death a death without pain or suffering. So a person knows that they can have a beautiful. If you wanna call it beautiful but a very tender. Farewell with their pet at double Lewis. And and after they leave the comfort room. And they can leap through separate door to which is nice you know we try to think of of ways to help support the family during this difficult time because we are about it centered practice. But the person also receives. Pet remembrance journal. Which is a guided journal which allows people it normalize as the grief process it and allows them to. Work through some of the different normal and difficult aspects of working through the loss of a loved one. They also receive a brochure about the pet loss support groups we have four groups every month their furry and their trap then. And again people can read their pressure and get information about the grieving process which normalize as it and for some people that's enough. For other people they want to attend one group and that sort of sets them on the way. And for many others they like to come multiple times. It's very welcome mean it's nonjudgmental it's safe it's a place or they can always show their pictures and share their stories. And note that they're surrounded by others who understand and heartfelt level. And that's an amazing feeling that helps reduce that sense of isolation and pain. There's a scene by group which is that parents. Children who have passed. And they're saying is grief shared is grief diminished. And that's really quite true. The other pressure that people receive after. They have said goodbye to their pet is about her memorial art therapy program. This has been going since 2007. And the second Sunday of every month. It's a free. I opportunity to create our projects in memory of their pets. And it's just again another way to heal this is available for adults and for children. That's something that's the good person takes with them when they lever that we're really leave it displayed at the Louis sort of know what they get to take it with and I always have two projects every month. One project. Is using photos. And mementos. In creating either a picture framer prayer can dole. Or am memory box I have all of the supplies. And then every month they also bring glass. And people are invited if they find that they would like to. Create a memorial keeps accusing their pets cremated remains well in the glass and so it's a very rare opportunity to use a different medium. And it fills up every month it's free I ask people to sign up online to reserve their space. But it's really quite transform a tip for people to be able to. Create beautiful memorial item to take home use scene there pets photos. Or anxious while the super interest in them and what a what a wonderful way to have. Your pet with you forever. That's fun that's the truth and that's what people say to especially with the cremated remains keepsakes. Is. They can Wear them as a necklace or keep them in their pocket as a pockets down. The other people who create items like that memory box or that prayer candle say that they worry. That as they begin to heal but they're going to forget their pact which won't happen but that is a worry. And soda have a memorial item that they can display. On their fireplace hearth her out of her bedside table does bring a lot of comfort. Now what summoned to someone has lost their pets. Outside the hospital say it was on farm somewhere recently happened or can they come and get supported Doug Lewis as well. Absolutely we welcome everybody I have had people come from as far as the coast. And Washington State and central or again. Everybody is welcome if there last happened recently or even along time ago when they're just hearing this and story yes please know that you are welcome to come. How come up children held what kind of support do you give to children. For children that's a little bit dicier because people are very protective of what their children here about death and what happens after death and it beat it becomes part of this spiritual or religious discussion it seems. So we've been I'm able to really Getty children's our families group off the ground for that reason. However I have many parents who call me and ask me how do we deal with this with their children. And along those lines ever in a series of blog articles also available on our website to talk about how we can support children through this. Children are invited to come to the memorial art therapy after I that they would really love that. They do they love it and they're so creative and they shared the stories about their pets meant so charming and beautiful. What is the website. The website is www. Duffel Lewis one word got a word. And and you go to the tab that has community service programs. And from there you go to the camp that says pat lust. And from there you'll see all of the different things that we've been talking about apart today. Is there any sort of religious aspect to this program none whatsoever. I believe that there's all kinds of possibilities about what happens with our pets. A souls after lately but I certainly don't know the answer. And I love hearing other people's stories there are occasions where there are people who have strong religious beliefs and may share those in group. And that's okay as long as they don't impose their views and anyone else. What are some ways that does Lewis gets funded for things like this. Well we are nonprofit hospital and it is the fund raisers that do support our community service programs. We have different. Like memorial card program in which is. Program where a person and or veterinary hospital can. Ask us to either send out. Bereavement parity in memory. Someone's pet US past or is the veterinary hospital can buy a bunch of them and then send them out it and that money goes directly to. Support to pet loss support program. We also had in our comfort room. A beautiful brass sculpture. Of a ginkgo tree. Which has leaves that can be engraved and branches and just. And many many people. Let to have those in grave and that money also goes to support the program. We have our big annual Latino soiree. And other functions for fundraising throughout the year for all of our community service program. Ams there's lots lots of ways is our listeners can help support the Lewis absolutely absolutely that's fantastic. How many people do you suppose the parallels program has helped throughout the years. Throughout the thirty year Yahoo! I would have to say thousands. I generally I have as we mentioned the four free dropping groups each month. And each group there are generally anywhere from five to eleven people who attend. And the second Sunday of the month I generally have about 24 people. Who attend. I also talked to people on the phone with a 24 hour message line where people can call up and leave their message and within a day I return their phone call. And some of those calls are five minutes of some of those calls are an hour but it's again an opportunity to. To reach some people who might not be able to come to trooper who prefer not to. I also. Return a lot of emails from people. And so there are just so many ways for people to reach out if they're concerned. For help and I will respond to. You must have stuff bring it to you you do and as well yourself the staff and god did I do and the facilitating habitat loss support program. For the memorial art therapy on the second Sunday of the month I do have two wonderful volunteers who helped as well. That's amazing you Mara busy woman I love it down till we tell me some good stories give a couple of good stories or deter this. You know. Although I was born loving animals myself. I have learned so much about the human animal bond listening to the stories of the people who attend group. I now have a deeper understanding about it the death of a relationship that can be shared with the parent. For example and other birds you know that they're very affectionate and there silly and that there is a strong bond there. I understand. Now that that the bond that people have with their horses you know is. Like that with cats and dogs that even another layer because they may they have to trust their life with a person's life if they're going on these trails for example. With people with with they're casting their dogs to. To have. Have the opportunity to listen to people stories as they talk about how this pet in their life has become a social bridge and help them get out and talk to people more. Are people who. Actually for example with our animal assisted therapy program. You know we'll take your dog to nursing homes or day care centers or the library to learn to read. The ability. To be surrounded by people who really embraced that human animal bond and he is that not only. To enrich their own lives but the lives of those in the community is such an honor. But wonderful way to look at. How about people with service animals who are there isn't a little bit of a different grieving process. I would say that it's another layer of grief. And again you know we can't really lump everybody into one category there are some people who live service animals where they are servicing animals and their assistants. We have other people who service animals are also their. Emotional. Support. You know companion animal. So again it would it be that similar type of the situation that the extent of the grief is equal to the extent of the bond to the importance of the relationship. I don't distinguish if somebody hands at pat or service and a Holler show animal if there in my group because they. Deeply love their pet than their missing them and they're going to get my support. So maybe could you tell us what the grieving process is if somebody has just lost a pet or no there that is reaching the end of its life. What what can they expect. That's a good question and I do undo make sure and save that people who are anticipating the death of a pet. They're very welcome to come to group and talk about their feelings as they anticipate that lost. The anticipatory lost period is pretty difficult because. One has to focus on the quality of life and it's so hard because. We don't have that much it's there with the end of life in our culture and usually it's over their to over to hospital. And so you know we are caring for this this animals and I recommend that people. Look deep into their own heart in terms of making choices about their pets wellbeing but also to stay in close touch with their veterinary professionals to make sure whether or not the animal has pain. There are so many beautiful ways now to say goodbye to. Eight pet. There are a number of house call veterinary services that will actually come to people's homes and euthanize the pet in the home setting. Again I told you whit about are beautiful setting at dove Lewis and our comfort room where open 24/7 and if in emergency happens and you think oh my gosh you know I need to go now. Yes we're there for them always. When someone is. Grieving over the loss of a pet there's. There's anger. Especially if the pet died young or if they thought it was something that you know they should have been a cure force others that general anger which is across the board the first. Reaction. In grief there's also guilt which is anger turned inward. And it's always. Heartbreaking that I after remember it's part of the natural process what people feel guilty about. You know why did I scold him that they are or why didn't I do. They matter I wish I had done that there's regret and guilt this is also a normal part of the grieving process. And I really encourage people. Tonight get stuck their grew over the chain of events in the real time that led up to. Feelings of guilt or regret. You only knew what you knew at the time we're human we cannot foresee the future and had to go back through treacherous get treacherous broke and and really judge ourselves as not a fair tribute to the loving bond you shared that going over the chain of events in real time as they happened. And realizing you made the best choice with the information and the resources you had at the time. If there's something that really. You know do you think. You know I I. I should've done better should've done differently. Well then. Forgive yourself because one thing we all know about our amazing relationships with our companion animals as their capacity for forgiveness. They love us. They don't stay angry at us as so for us to stay angry at ourselves over some real war. You know perceived wrongdoing is again not a nice tribute to leave to them so you've got you get a near and you got killed. And then there's the sadness. It's exhausting in Unity College the labor of mourning because it is exhausting. There are the waves of sadness that that common they just. They feel so so desperately lonely. And I like to reassure people but again this is normal and necessary part of the grieving process. One must go through these difficult feelings in order to get to the other side and he'll and that's why we need support and understanding. And I have to tell people a lot of the time to be more compassionate with the sun cults. A lot of cancer clinic I'm still crying all the time or why earning over this and it's it's like yeah let's look about look at it what are the different roles that your companion animal played in learning center. And try to get them to even accept their own feelings. The reason there are waves. In the grieving process is because nobody can do a lot of grief work at once. You think about a relationship. Be like layers of an onion you know there's a lot of depth and so the first. The first. Heard all the people have to deal with its adapting. To their world without their animals physically being in their adapting to coming home and having no one greet them adapting to. You know coming out of one room into another and looking at distaste or their pay east to I'd those types of things caused great sadness. And and crying. And then once it sort of adapt to that they may think okay you know hmmm I'm being a little better and then what happens the flowers start to mean outside mentally. All I don't rush you know I used to walk my dog down the street he would always sniffed those flowers but now he's not here. And so that's another layer of grief and then you get through that and then it's holiday. So very different triggers. And the grief if it comes and it goes and that is a natural. And normal grieving process. And yup let's say it's hard to have to take those steps and go through those things but that's kind of the only way to do there. It is it is ended its. Hard if you're doing it all alone in your isolated but if you come to the Tel plus support group or you talk to family members or friends who understand. Or if you go online. There is a lovely website which is like an online support group which is www. Pet loss dot org. They have translated their support in too many different languages. And you can and then they contribute to your pet at that website as well and on Monday nights they have the international candlelight. Ceremony where all over the world at 7 PM Portland Oregon time Mondays they light candles and memories of pets that passed. So there are some beautiful way is to. Incorporate. The different feelings he need to go through in order to fully creep your pet. Wonderful what's where's the best place for somebody to start if they. Are you feeling that they went to want the support of your program where where should they search. I think they should just come to group if you look and line that we do have the meetings four times a month. And their their draft and so come come to that come by yourself for come with a friend I'm always there and it is very welcoming and supportive. If that seems too scary call to 24 hour message line which is 5032342061. And I will be happy to return your colony answer any questions you have there as well and the let's say momentum www. Dove flew its bad board. Community service programs. At las support awesome you are so compassionate. Yeah that's wonderful both acute treatment with the don't lose animal hospital thinks of him and so. Thanks for having me. Microscope is an intercom reveal Portland public affairs program.