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GRIEVING PET LOSS photo: Lightspruch

How to get the support you need after saying farewell.

GRIEVING PET LOSS photo: Lightspruch
photo: Lightspruch

Anyone who’s lost a furry family member knows there’s nothing quite like that sadness. The grief can be unbearable, so it’s helpful to know various outlets are available for support during this difficult time.

Saying Goodbye at Home

With all pets, there comes a time when you must make the difficult decision to part ways. This stressful experience can be made a little less so by enlisting the aid of an in-home euthanasia specialist.

Dr. Sydney Brehm has been providing this service as well as at-home veterinary hospice care with Atlanta-based Lap of Love for four years. The veterinarian and Buckhead resident says saying goodbye at home helps reduce anxiety for both the pet and the owners.

Brehm doesn’t wear scrubs with potential hospital smells and always carries treats. She spends time getting to know the pets and their relationships with their owners. She explains each step of the process and doesn’t rush anything.

“It can be stressful to take a pet to the vet,” she says. “We do our best in private practice, but we can’t provide the same experience as doing this at home, in the pet’s favorite place.”

Brehm says the guilt over the decision to euthanize a pet can be overwhelming, but the decision to end their pain in a comfortable and loving way is made with the love for the pet in mind.

Surviving the Aftermath

Grief has no timeline, Brehm says, so once you say goodbye, extra support is helpful. Robin Chisolm- Seymour started her pet loss support group in 2008 with weekly meetings at BluePearl Pet Hospital in Sandy Springs. The free meetings are now virtual, and anyone going through pet grief is welcome.

“The loss of a beloved pet can be devastating, and some people feel they have no one to talk to and therefore feel isolated and alone,” Chisolm-Seymour says. “A pet loss support group is designed to provide an emotionally safe environment that is caring and compassionate. Participating in a support group with other grieving individuals can help them realize they are not alone and what they are feeling is entirely normal.”

For those who desire more personal counseling, Lap of Love has grief coaches who provide one-on-one support sessions ($50 for 50 minutes) and The Arms of Love Journey course ($149), limited to six people over six weeks. According to pet loss grief coach Christiana Saia, who is also a certified grief companion, these meetings allow more time to focus on each individual’s journey.

“Everybody’s grief journey is going to be unique and dependent on several factors, but many find it helpful to simply feel that their grief reaction is valid and normal,” Saia says. “The variety in our services allows for exploration of different supportive avenues.”


Contact Robin Chisolm-Seymour: 404.308.8731

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