WATERVILLE — Losing a pet can be painful — as painful as losing a family member.
With that in mind, Hospice Volunteers of Waterville Area is offering a support group for those grieving the loss of a pet or animal companion.
Susan Roy, the group’s executive director, got the idea for the grief support group after losing her 14-year-old dog, Casey, in August 2011.
Roy had Casey even before her own children were born, so the dog was truly a part of the family.
When it was clear that it was time for Casey to die, Roy called her veterinarian, Eleanor Sabean, who agreed to go to Roy’s home to put Casey to sleep. Sabean, of Lakeside Veterinary Clinic in Oakland, told Roy what to expect, and Roy was able to hold her dog as Casey died.
“It just made Casey’s passing so much easier for her, to be able to be in a place that was comfortable,” Roy recalled.
Sabean said Friday she thinks it is wonderful hospice is offering the grief support group for those who have lost pets.
Pets are so dependent on humans for all of their needs that when humans make end-of-life decisions for them and have to say goodbye, it is a huge emotional burden for a lot of people, according to Sabean.
Sabean also conducted a workshop for hospice discussing how to provide end-of-life care for pets.
“I think it’s very important to have somebody to talk to,” she said. “You form a bond with animals over the years.”
Roy said some people don’t understand the pain one goes through when losing a pet, and being able to share that pain and grief is important.
“That’s a loss that isn’t always acknowledged by friends and family,” Roy said. “This will be a safe place to share their feelings.”
Hospice serves 27 communities with nonmedical support to individuals and their families during the last phases of life. It also provides support to loved ones who are grieving and educates the community on issues related to death and grieving. It is volunteer-based and supported with donations.
The animal loss support group is free and will be run by Sarah Swift-Simons, Hospice’s bereavement coordinator. The group will meet 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23, Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 at Hospice’s community center at 304 Main St.
More information is available at 873-3615, ext. 15, or sswift-simons@h[email protected]
Amy Calder — 861-9247