The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine is resuming its Pet Loss Support Group. Led by Kaleigh Feldkamp, MSW, social worker at the MU Veterinary Health Center, the group assists current and former clients who are struggling with the loss of a pet. The Pet Loss Support Group provides a safe and supportive space for people who are grieving the loss of a member of their family.
Feldkamp, who is new to her role, says the group was on hiatus after the departure of her predecessor at the VHC. “I’m restarting the group because in my short time here at the VHC, I have seen a great need for an emotional outlet for pet owners to process and share their grief,” she said.
Companion animals make a strong and lasting mark in the lives of the people who love them. Strong emotional and physical reactions to the death of a companion animal are healthy and normal. They can include feelings of grief, pain, shock, anxiety and guilt. These responses can be overwhelming, and having a support group is important during this time. “Pet owners will find support and community among their peers who are experiencing similar grief,” said Feldkamp. “Community is one of the most beneficial parts of healing, and this group works to provide that.”
In addition to the Pet Loss Support Group, the VHC Client Support Program offers clients other areas of assistance. The program helps with end-of-life concerns, anticipatory grief, talking to children about animal health and death, and ways to memorialize the special bond with a companion animal.
Feldkamp is planning to begin Pet Loss Support Group meetings this month, with meetings taking place on Wednesdays. For those who are interested, the VHC has created a sign-up form. Alternatively, clients may contact Kaleigh Feldkamp at email@example.com.
By Nick Childress