Tracey Gee

Hi, my name is Tracey, and I have been a psychologist since 2001, specialising in healthcare (mind-body medicine) and have had significant experience working with loss and grief, unresolved feelings, trauma, adjustment and well-being.

Life with a pet is one of the most rewarding experiences we can have as they become part of the family, we are their guardian, and they depend on us for their care. Life is bliss, and you look forward to coming home and seeing them. You can feel they are the only one that understands you and give you unconditional love. You may catch yourself talking about what your fur-baby is thinking or why they are doing something.

Coping with their loss is one of life’s major challenges and an inevitable part of their life. The pain your grief is causing is unique to you and a reflection of how much you loved your fur-baby. How old you are, your attachment to them, how old they were and how they passed can make a difference to your loss and grief experience.

It can be difficult to get grief support as others may not recognise the significance of your loss and trying to adjust to life without them.

Your experience can feel overwhelming and have unexpected emotions (e.g. from shock or anger to disbelief, guilt, intense sadness), thoughts (e.g. overthinking, unable to decide on what to do) and behavioural and physical symptoms (e.g. crying easily, not being yourself and more reactive to others, difficulty sleeping).

For example, can you relate to some of these situations and comments:

Having to decide to put them to sleep.

“I am full of regret and guilt as I should have done more.”
“I don’t know what to do as I love them, but I don’t want them to suffer.”

They have been attacked, or in an accident you witnessed.

“I feel traumatized because I saw them get attacked and relive it regularly.”

Feeling no one understands your grief.

“I feel heartbroken and so lonely.”
“I miss them so much, and no one understands how I feel.”
“It has been years since I lost them but I still feel guilty about how they died.”

I ‘d like to help you understand your experience and develop ways to cope with your loss at this difficult time.

In addition to my professional training and experience, my own pet losses have given me personal experience with grief, unresolved feelings, trauma and having to adjust to my life without them. I had to put my 17 & 19-year-old cats to sleep because of their age and health, my 6-month-old puppy was hit by a car, I watched my 3 ½-year-old giant rabbit die unexpectedly during a vet visit, have had to rehome two young bunnies, and found my 4-year-old dwarf rabbit dead and not knowing why.

I also know how pets significantly improve our quality of life and well-being. I’m very fortunate to have Shadow, my 10-year-old exotic black cat from the SPCA. Shadow has a video message for you – attached.

Contact Tracey Gee

· Email:

· Website:


Keep safe and well.

Kind regards


Nicky Scott

When most people think of pets, cats and dogs are often the first animals that spring to mind.  Pets though come in many forms from lizards, cows and even in some cases spiders.  Pets create empathy, love, and the opportunity to have a non-judgemental companion, in many ways, pets complete our lives.  Growing up I always had animals and I was particularly fond of my pet rabbit – Rabby.  I trained Rabby to come to me when he was called, he would ride on the back of my bicycle in a bucket that he was not strapped into.  Rabby’s proudest moment by far was when he won the Supreme Champion award at the local A&P show for two years running.  Yes, a rabbit in a pram dressed like a baby beat all of the fancy cows and lambs that Wanganui had to offer.  I was only twelve when Rabby died and it was my first but not my last encounter with losing a loving, loyal, fun, cuddly mate.

As time went by, I had several strong relationships with beautiful pets.  I know and understand the pain losing such a friend can bring which leads me to wonder, if this can bring so much sadness then why do we own them.  The answer to that question is actually very simple and well explained in the following quote:

“It came to me that every time I lose a dog, they take a piece of my heart with them and
every new dog that comes into my life
gifts me with a piece of their heart.
If I live long enough,
all the components of my heart will be dog and
I w
ill become as generous and loving as they are.
 – Anonymous ‘Dogs’ lives are too short.’

Though this beautiful quote pertains to dogs, I feel it can easily be applied to any of our loved furry friends.

Gaelynn Beswick

Each of our lives is a tapestry made up of many threads. Multi-coloured, they are the stories we weave and that weave us.

These are some of my threads. They answer the question people often ask me: “How did I come to have a pet cremation service?”

As a child I had numerous pets, including ailing and injured birds, hedgehogs and other wildlife that I endeavored to save. When my animals inevitably died, I’d bury them in my pet cemetery beneath the macrocarpa hedge at the back of the garden. Each pet had a little named cross and I’d decorate their “sacred place,” with coloured stones, shells and flowers. I was usually the only one at the ceremony – my younger sisters being reluctant mourners.

There would be tears and a wondering, “where are they now?’ The smell of macrocarpa still brings the remembrance of that grief.

Grief re-visited me as a young mother. At 22 my first child, Melissa, died at 4 months of age from congenital heart defects. It was an abyss that took a long time to climb out of. Writing was my solace –a way of purging the turmoil of feelings that I feared would send me to madness or suicide.

Though others grieved around me, mostly it wasn’t talked about, for those who loved me didn’t want to add to my pain. I had little understanding back then of emotions or an “inner life” and the silence and aloneness I found myself in was at times unbearable.

The other significant threads in my tapestry are training then working as a counsellor, followed by the establishment and running of boarding kennels. Melissa’s life – and death –  is the thread that stands out the most brightly. It’s the blue of sorrow, yet intertwined are jewels of glistening yellow. This most precious thread reminds me that out of darkness comes light; out of pain comes joy and that death and sorrow can be the backdrop that shines the light on how to truly live. The breaking of our hearts can also be the opening.

Our animals are treasures. They grace out lives and families with their unconditional love, passion, forgiveness and humour. I often wonder how different we might be – life could be – if we lived their values.

Gaelynn Beswick

Michael Meehan


Michael graduated from the University of Queensland in 1991 and spent 10 years in companion animal veterinary practices in Australia and then in United Kingdom before returning to the University of Queensland in 2001 to complete an Honour’s degree in Psychology. His 2004 Honour’s thesis was about exploring and better understanding the human-animal bond using human-relationship theories.

Educator & Counsellor

In 2005 Michael was employed as a casual academic and helped develop UQ’s School of Veterinary Science curriculum teaching veterinary students non-technical veterinary competencies and topics such as the human-animal bond, grief and euthanasia, communication skills and ethics and morality. From 2006 until 2011 Michael completed a PhD about veterinary communication. In 2011 he travelled to Canada and up until the end of 2014 he was employed as a full time academic at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph teaching veterinary students in the “Art of Veterinary Medicine” program. During this time, he was the head co-ordinator of the OVC Pet Loss Support Hotline. He trained veterinary students in fundamental counselling skills and how to manage calls to the hotline. Michael returned down under and across the ditch in 2015 to continue working with veterinary educators and organisations in helping veterinarians and students to improve their communication skills. He also returned to companion animal veterinary practice where he is able to also provide counselling to clients.

Grief Centre


Grief Centre

The Grief Centre is a charitable trust, established in 2009. Our mission is to support every person, regardless of financial circumstance, through their individual loss and grief journey by providing quality counselling and support groups, appropriate training and resources, and effective community engagement.

We have a wonderful team of highly qualified and compassionate grief counsellors who offer grief counselling for all forms of loss and grief in-person, online and over the phone.

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