Dinah Stern-Spiteri

From the time I became a counsellor, in 2002, I encountered many individuals with underlying issues in grief and loss – something, which if not attended to, can cause physical and mental ill- being.

We see counsellors for all sorts of things, but when we lose a beloved pet, and our heart is so totally broken, we try to deal with things in our own ways and often, alone.

When we lost our two precious ‘fur babies’ within nine months of each other, we were utterly devastated. Our grief went beyond words, and the ache I felt was so unbearable.

Other things that became issues in my life afterwards just compounded my feelings of passionate sadness and loss, and everything was just that little bit harder to get through. I spoke to friends who didn’t really ‘get it’, I spoke to family, who told me ‘you need to get over it and move on’; someone even told me to ‘get another dog and you’ll feel better’, as if I could just swap one for the others.

The loss, grief and oftentimes guilt we experience after losing a pet, a member of our family, is every bit as real as if we lose a human, yet we often hesitate to seek help in our grieving, because of a variety of reasons, one of them being that we don’t believe others see it as significant or legitimate.

As a counsellor in this field, I work from a person-centred, holistic approach – I walk alongside you, giving you a safe space in a confidential setting, that allows you to speak freely about your feelings, your pain and your (sometimes) anger. The grieving journey is different for everyone, and nobody can tell you the ‘right’ way to do it. However you walk this path, it takes time. It takes as long as it takes. Honour yourself and your pet and give yourself time, compassionately, to ride the waves as they come. As someone who has been through it, I know talking helps and I encourage you to reach out.

I work Tuesdays to Fridays and appointments can be made for face to face sessions from my practice in South Hobart, or phone sessions.

You can message me through my FaceBook page as well – “Pet Bereavement & Adjustment Counselling”

Beyond Blue

Grief is a natural response to loss. It might be the loss of a loved one, relationship, pregnancy, pet, job or way of life. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief is likely to be.

Everyone experiences grief differently. Some people may grieve for weeks and months, while others may describe their grief lasting for years.

Grief is something that takes time to work through. While everyone finds their own way to grieve it’s important to have the support of friends and family or someone else, and to talk about your loss when you need to.

Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.

Service Locations & Appointments

“We’re here for everyone in Australia – at work, home, school, university, online, and in communities across the country.” – Beyond Blue

The beyondblue Support Service provides advice and support via telephone 24/7 (just call 1300 22 4636), daily web chat (between 3pm–12am) and email (with a response provided within 24 hours).


The cost of getting medical or psychological treatment for anxiety, depression or a related condition from a health professional varies. However, in the same way you can get a Medicare benefit when you see a doctor, you can also get part or all of the consultation fee subsidised when you see certain mental health professionals for treatment of anxiety and depression. It is important to recognise that treatment doesn’t have to cost very much and can have lifelong benefits.

Read more: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/who-can-assist/getting-support-how-much-does-it-cost

24/7 Pet Loss Support hotline

Thanks to a Pets & People initiative, grieving animal lovers can now call a national hotline to be connected with a qualified and experienced counsellor who can help them cope with their loss.

Dr Michael O’Donoghue established the service so that people could call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and arrange to talk to a specialised pet loss counsellor about the loss of any kind of companion animal.

Location and Service Area

At the time of launch there were 10 service counsellors based across Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane – with the service continuing to expand and offer connections with more and more professionals. As of August 2018 the service now extends to New Zealand with a dedicated hotline established for local NZ callers.


Calls are answered by a receptionist 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and transferred to a suitable counsellor if there is one available on the line, otherwise the caller will be contacted by return phone within 24 hours.


The hotline is a toll free number, but once connected with professional, their counselling rates will vary according to the service provider. These charges will be discussed with the caller before proceeding. Dr Michael O’Donoghue has also curated a list of free and donation-based options on the Grief & Bereavement Support Services page.


Read more: Dr Michael O’Donoghue establishes Australia’s first Pet Loss Support hotline on 1300 431 450

Lifeline Australia

Lifeline provides all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to online, phone and face-to-face crisis support and suicide prevention services.  13 11 14 is a confidential telephone crisis support service available 24/7 from a landline, payphone or mobile. Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis can contact Lifeline.

Lifeline says: “Feelings of loss and grief can be experienced after we lose someone or something we care about like; the death of a loved one; loss of a relationship; loss of a pet; loss of a job; a change to your way of life; or loss of important possessions. The grief you experience in these instances is not an illness – it is a normal response to a life event that everyone must face at some point. It takes time to adjust and to learn to live our life without that person, thing or way of life.”

Read more at: Dealing with Loss & Grief

What happens when you call 13 11 14?

Our trained Telephone Crisis Supporters will answer your call and:

  • Listen to your situation
  • Provide immediate support
  • Assist to clarify options and choices available to you
  • Provide you with referral information for other services in your local area.

Your call will be answered as soon as possible by the next available crisis supporter. If your call isn’t answered straight away, it means we are experiencing high demand for our service and helping other Australians in need. Please stay on the line or call back later.

Call Costs

Most calls to 13 11 14 from a landline will be charged the cost of a local call, however additional charges may apply for some home phone plans. Calls to 13 11 14 from mobiles are free. This includes Pre-Paid and Post-Paid customers.

Other Services

Lifeline also uses instant messenger technology to offer real-time support for people who are overwhelmed and having difficulty coping. See more at: Crisis Support Chat Service

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement Counselling and Support Service, provides a Victorian statewide specialist bereavement service for individuals, children and families who need assistance following the death of a companion animal.  The service offers face-to-face bereavement counselling most of which is office-based, as well as bereavement support programs such as support groups, information resources and remembrance events.

Please note: The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement is not a crisis support service. In an emergency please call 000, or if you require urgent counselling, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Location and Service Area

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement Counselling and Support Service Melbourne office is located at 253 Wellington Road, Mulgrave, Victoria 3170.

Bereavement counselling is also available at a range of other locations across Melbourne. We also provide bereavement counselling to those outside of Melbourne who live in rural and regional Victoria through our telephone and online counselling service which uses high-quality videoconference technology. This provides a convenient, private and secure way of connecting with a bereavement practitioner from your home.

Cost or Contribution

A fee for service is a financial contribution payable by a client which in part meets the cost of the service received. The fee for service payable by the client is dependent upon the client’s income level. Exemptions from fee for service are provided for people from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, those receiving bushfire bereavement related services and those attending bereavement support groups. Those attending bereavement support groups are encouraged to make a donation to defray the cost of running the program.


For further information phone (03) 9265 2100 or go to www.grief.org.au

Bianca Lavorgna and Jackie Tarabay – Specialist Bereavement Counsellors

Renee Magri

Losing a pet can be a difficult thing to go through as often our animals are our very best friends. Here at Forever In My Heart, I will work with you to guide and support you in understanding and accepting your loss and/or support you in the lead up to a loss. I can relate to you as I lost my Boxer Buckley to a 20 month terminal illness in November 2016. I have experienced what you maybe currently feeling. Together we will work “As a Team” to help you move towards acceptance and to embark on having a “Wonderful Relationship with the Memories”.

Please Contact Me for a “No Obligation” chat via Email, Phone or my Facebook Page for more information. I offer Face to Face and Online Sessions.

No Referral Required.

Rainbow Paws Memorials

Faithful friends deserve the best. RainbowPaws allows you to create a lasting memorial by transforming ashes from a pet cremation into new life through infusion into a living plant. Keep memories alive with a life that creates new life.

David Foote


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.

Tracey Woods

Hi, My Name is Tracey and I have been a Vet Nurse for over 20 years. I have been challenged with losing my own pets and the fur children of many valued clients over the years.

I hope to provide you with support and guidance to make the sorrow of losing your beloved pet a little less painful.

Perth born and bred, I have spent most of my career in small animal hospitals, and emergency clinics such as Balcatta Vet and Murdoch Pet Emergency. I have been an active member of the VNCA (Veterinary Nurse Council of Australia) since I started nursing and love continuing education.

During my studies, I came across the Grief Recovery Method, an American group that has been helping people actually Recover from Grief for over 30 years. This method helped me personally, shedding 11 years of painful memories and loss from when my father died of cancer.

Grief is the price we pay for love.


Karen Jaques

When I lost my 18 year old cattle dog, Lucy, even as a Grief Counselor myself, I needed someone to help me make sense of what I was thinking and feeling. My own grief put me on the path to help others in this area.

I found there were not many Counseling services in this area that came with formal qualifications in training and it was imperative to me that I found a course that reflected and supported my own way of thinking concerning pet loss. One that empathises, takes it very seriously and also incorporates some level of spirituality. On this quest I finally managed to find The APLB (Assoc.of Pet Loss and Bereavement) who offered a course that mirrored my way of thinking and also had a strict and high standard of excellence.

I am now one of only two Counselors in Australia that is certified in Pet Loss and Bereavement with APLB (Assoc. of Pet Loss and Bereavement) and am currently working in the APLB chat room as Assistant Host to the founder, Dr.Wallace Sife Ph.D. providing online counseling in this area. Dr.Wallace Sife Ph.D is also the author of “The Loss of a Pet” which is now in it’s 4th edition and has helped many people who have experienced the intense emotional roller coaster ride after loss a beloved companion animal.

The other area I specialise in is Carer Fatigue which impacts not only the carer of incapacitated, aged and/ or terminally ill pets but also on the other end of the spectrum, professionals such as Vets & Veterinary staff, Doctors & Nurses, SES and emergency services personnel etc.

After experiencing overwhelming grief with my own losses and the sometimes disconnect with family and friends that it can sometimes bring, that loneliness and feeling of overwhelming grief, my philosophy is believing that when you gain an understanding of what you are experiencing you can then move forward to find peace, resolution and healing….

I am here to help you on that journey…..