My name is Fiona and I live in North West Sydney. I have owned, loved and lost animals all my life and have felt the incredible pain of grief when they’re gone.
In my experiences personally and professionally, I feel sad that few people understand the realness of what some of us feel when we no longer have our best friends by our side. Well meaning friends tell us she’s in a better place now, that we were lucky to have her and maybe we just need to get another pet. We are encouraged to move on and forget when all we want to do is stay with them and remember. We feel unheard and lonely, that we’re over reacting and there must be something ‘wrong’ with us. Our grief may become disenfranchised – or unvalidated.
As a person centred counsellor I take time to understand you. We work together to explore your relationship with your pet and your changed life since they’ve gone. By providing a safe space for you to feel your emotions around grief, together we work to integrate your loss and grow through it. Grief is Love – it happens in our heart not our head and needs to heal through connection and support.
I offer counselling by Zoom, phone or face to face
I began my professional career in a very different industry, working with animals in a Veterinary Clinic. I found that when an emergency occurred or during the end of life process I was drawn to providing support to the families. I realized that this is where my interests lie; providing a space for families to grieve the loss of their beloved Pet.
The unexpected loss of my 3 year old cat, Artemis reaffirmed my belief of how important it is to recognize how deeply we grieve the loss of our pets. In our session I will show your grief the honor and respect that it deserves by creating a safe place for you to talk. Together we will work towards finding meaning from our losses and begin to step forward in life without our pet, though always remembering the mark they have left on our lives.
“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Anatole France.
Hi. I’m Lesley and I have been a grief counsellor for over 20 years working with hundreds of people going through many different kinds of losses. If you are going through 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.
David graduated in 1980 from the University of Queensland and spent 20 years in private veterinary practice in Australia and the United Kingdom before deciding to pursue a career in counselling and personal development. He worked initially in mixed practice then mostly in small animal practice. His special interests during his time in practice were emergency medicine, orthopaedics and dermatology.
From 1999 until 2001 David trained and worked in general and crisis counselling with Lifeline and also completed bereavement counselling training at the Bereavement Care Centre in Sydney. During his time in practice David noted the extreme difficulty and lack of support many clients experienced when trying to cope with the death of their pet. He also became aware of the difficulties many veterinarians, from new graduates to seasoned practitioners, experienced when trying to cope with the complex demands and stresses of practice life.
When I lost my 18 year old cattle dog, Lucy, even as a Grief Counsellor myself, I needed someone to help me make sense of what I was thinking and feeling. This started me on a journey to help others with their pet loss which is largely misunderstood how intense that grief can be. I am now one of only a few Counsellors in Australia that is certified in Pet Loss and Bereavement through the not for profit APLB (Assoc. of Pet Loss and Bereavement). I have my own practice specialising in Grief and Loss and am also a Host in the ALPB chat room, carrying on the legacy of the founder ,the late Dr.Wallace Sife Ph.D who published “The Loss of a Pet”. His book & Association has helped many people who have experienced the intense emotional roller coaster ride after loss a beloved companion animal.
Having suffered a great deal of personal loss in my life has put me on a path to help others through one of the most challenging times in life. My belief is that when you gain an understanding of what you are experiencing you can then move forward to find peace, acceptance and healing….
I am here to help you on that journey…..
My decision to enter the world of grief counselling/pet loss support was a personal one following the death of my dog, Boof. He came into my life when I was 15 and stayed with me until I was 38-years old. He lived and grew up with me by my side……he was my rock, my companion, my protector. I couldn’t have anticipated how much his loss would affect me. My world fell apart.
Our pets faithfully accompany us, providing loving comfort and unconditional support, so whether the loss is sudden or not our world shifts and we can find ourselves feeling completely lost. Grief for a pet can be just as deep as a loss of any family member.
Having lost my only siblings, two brothers and a dear friend to lung cancer to name a few losses in my life, I am now very blessed to support others in their grief.
I offer telephone or online sessions at a time convenient to you.