An Interview with Vicky Nonas, a Sydney Based Pet Loss Grief Counsellor
Part 2: Pet loss bereavement counsellors & veterinarians working together
Following on from Part 1 of our interview with Vicky Nonas, Pet Loss Grief Counsellor. We have explored why we need grief counsellors trained in pet loss and bereavement. Now it’s time to understand how we can work together to help support families in the lead up to, during and after the loss of a beloved family member.
Being palliative care and end of life veterinarians means we are with families at their most vulnerable. We sit with families in their grief and know that some families require more support than we can provide. Having passionate and caring professional grief counsellors like Vicky to refer to is invaluable to our clients.
So, we asked Vicky about how we can best work together to support families in their grief.
What additional support do you provide that veterinary professionals are unable to?
Veterinary professionals offer significant supportive care to patients and their caregivers, often throughout their lives, however it is a reality that the extent or constraints of practice are that time spent supporting families may be limited.
As an additional support to veterinary professionals, I provide a service that has arisen from my own personal experience and from study and qualifications which enable me to provide therapy that is tailored to the specific needs of individuals.
A part of my role as a counsellor is to provide education for bereaved people about what they might experience in the grief process, to increase a sense of control and importantly ‘walking with’ pet parents through the grieving process whilst honouring the life of their beloved pet. This kind of support can be important as many people question whether their experience of grief is ‘normal’ and wonder whether they are going crazy.
While veterinary professionals use their impressive knowledge, skills, and technical expertise to educate and emotionally support clients, at times there is a need for a qualified therapist to provide support to pet parents who require a deeper level of emotional assistance over a longer period.
How best can grief counsellors and palliative care/end of life veterinarians work together?
Just the same as counsellors, palliative care/end of life veterinarians are in a unique and privileged situation, making a big difference in their patients and family’s lives, empowering pet owners to actively participate in their pet’s care. Whilst palliative care veterinarians can provide medical and practical assistance in the treatment of pets in the final stages of their life, counselling can add a continuity of service by offering psychological support for pet parents during the most distressing time of losing a pet.