“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
Hi. I’m Lesley and I have been a grief counsellor for over 20 years working with hundreds of people going though many different kinds of losses. If you are going though the loss of your beloved pet – as I have done recently – and resonate with my story and approach, I would love to work with you.
As a counsellor/psychotherapist, yoga teacher and long term Buddhist practitioner, I can’t help but incorporate a ‘bigger picture’ approach when working with clients who are grieving. ie. an understanding of the impermanence of life, the great mystery of our brief, finite physical existence and whether that continues in some other way beyond physical death. I find dwelling in this mystery with others is one of the most profound things we can do together as human beings. I have encountered many, many people who are overwhelmed by their grief, and often don’t have safe places or people with whom they can share these feelings. Many of these feel their beloved one around them, and even have experiences of contact beyond death, but these experiences are difficult both to share with others and to understand for ourselves.
I recently lost my beloved cat, Asha. ‘Asha’ means ‘hope’ in Hindi and he indeed brought hope and joy into my life. He was a spirited and loving daily companion and was with me for 16 years. I miss the relationship between us every day. I miss the essence of him, the physical comfort of his presence, his quirky ways, and the very real expressions of affection and love between us. He made my house a home and it feels empty without him. He was often my co- therapist, sitting beside many of my clients in their sadness, and (usually!) available for cuddles. I spent most of his life trying to keep him alive and happy and well, from his days as a wild and wayward kitten right up to becoming an elderly cat with arthritis, kidney disease and lymphoma. The sudden end to all that loving care and attention can be overwhelming. It has struck me that the expression “grief is just love with nowhere to go” is very true.
In working through my own loss, I have been reflecting on how unacknowledged losing a pet often is in our society, and hence here I am wanting to help others going through this experience. In our world, there are some precious people who “get” how enormous our grief for our animals is. Unfortunately there are many who don’t, and this can add significantly to the loneliness and isolation that can sometimes come with grieving our beloved companions.
Occasionally, losing a pet comes as a sudden and traumatic event which adds an enormous dimension to the depth of our grieving process. All the latest research on working with trauma – known as poly-vagal theory – points to working with physical therapies alongside counselling to help change arousal patterns in the body and mind. I have been using somatic (physical) approaches with my clients who have suffered trauma with much success, such as tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) and many of the traditional yogic breathing and deep relaxation practices, and have found these to be very successful in conjunction with deeply empathetic counselling.
I’d love to talk to you if you are going through a difficult time over the loss of your beloved one.