Contemporary Counseling Center in cooperation with the Monmouth County SPCA is offering this unique service, dedicated to giving comfort and advice to individuals and families when a loved pet dies. Pets fill many important roles in our lives. They are our friends, companions, and source of unconditional love. The death or illness of a pet can stir surprisingly powerful emotions that many people are often reluctant to talk about with family or friends.
Licensed Professional Counselor, Bob Szita is available by phone to address a variety of pet loss issues, including: how to talk with children about the death of a pet, understanding the impact on the elderly when a pet dies, making life and death decisions about seriously ill pets, and how to deal with anger, guilt, and sadness after a loss.
To reach the Pet Loss Help Line leave your name and phone number with the Monmouth County SPCA at 732-542-0040 or call Contemporary Counseling Center directly at 732-577-1076. There is no charge for this service, but donations in honor of your pet will go to supporting the good work of the Monmouth County SPCA (MCSPCA, PO Box 93, 260 Wall Street, Eatontown, NJ 07724).
Who do you call when a pet dies?
Speak directly to a professional counselor
and get advice on:
- Dealing with sadness, guilt, and anger after a loss.
- Making life and death decisions about seriously ill pets.
- Talking to children about the death of a pet.
- Understanding the impact on the elderly when a pet dies.
We often think of the Monmouth County SPCA as a place to adopt a pet or get advice on animal behavior problems. The Eatontown facility has added a unique new service, a Pet Loss Help Line, dedicated to giving comfort and advice to individuals and families when a loved pet dies. “Pets fill many important roles in our lives.”, says Bob Szita MS, LPC a Licensed Professional Counselor with a specialty in grief work. “They are our friends, companions, and source of unconditional love. The death or illness of a pet can stir surprisingly powerful emotions that many people are often reluctant to talk about with family or friends.”
Mr. Szita has led monthly pet loss groups for the SPCA. He is now available to answer questions and counsel families by phone. Co-Director of Contemporary Counseling Center & ActionArtz Training Institute in Marlboro, he has extensive experience working with relationships between people and animals in his clinical practice as well as in his past work as a pet loss counselor at the New York Animal Medical Center and Director of Education at the Staten Island Zoo.
Call the Monmouth County SPCA at 732-542-0040 and leave your name and phone number. A counselor will return your call.
There is no charge for this service.
Monmouth County SPCA
260 Wall Street, Eatontown, NJ
(After business hours & on weekends
leave a message at: 732-577-1076)
by Bob Szita, MS, LPC, TEP
A majority of American pet owners consider their pet a family member. Pets can play a variety of important roles including, companion, protector, and confidant. They can provide us with unconditional love and affection. Its no wonder when a pet dies every member of the household feels the loss. The death of a pet may not have the same impact on us as human loss but there is a very significant grieving that takes place. Children and adults can experience a wide range of powerful emotions including, depression, guilt, denial & anger. Even though these feelings are normal reactions to a pet’s death, people are often surprised and confused by the intensity of them. There can be an added complication of embarrassment and even shame that this kind of loss has affected them so deeply. Friends and relatives are not always very understanding of the emotional upheaval we experience when a non-human family member dies through accident, illness, or euthanasia.
When it comes to human death, every culture in the world has rituals, ceremonies, and customs that honor the deceased and provide a forum for family members and friends to grieve. It is socially acceptable to cry, to be sad, to take time off, in other words, to mourn. Pet owners often grieve alone and silently for fear of not being understood or worse, being ridiculed!
As in all grieving, expressing the feelings of loss and sharing memories of loved pets with other people who care facilitates the healing process. If these strong emotions are held in they can lie dormant in us for many years, even a life time, and often surface when triggered by other losses. When mourning is allowed to progress, the feelings of love and the fond memories come to the forefront and begin to replace the sorrow. We do not forget our pets, but we can talk about them with less and less pain. Eventually there is a readiness to accept new relationships.
Few pets out-live people and those of us that love animals continue to share our lives with them, love them, and mourn them when they die. The rewards of having pets are apparently far greater than the losses.
Bob Szita, MS, LPC, TEP is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a specialty in illness and loss. He has extensive experience in grief work as a hospice counselor. In addition, Bob worked for many years as Director of Education at the Staten Island Zoo where he promoted the humane treatment of animals throughout the New York City school system. He was also a pet loss counselor at the Animal Medical Center in New York. Bob is Co-Director of Contemporary Counseling Center and ActionArtz Training Institute of Marlboro, N.J. He has been a pet owner all his life.
Bob offers the following workshops on the relationship between people and pets for schools, animal shelters, veterinary clinics, healthcare agencies, and other organizations.
- The Power of Pets: The Importance of Pets in Our Lives. A rich and meaningful learning experience that explores the special meaning and role of pets in peoples’ lives.
- Friends Remembered: Honoring the pets You’ve Loved and Lost. A family workshop on creating your own pet memorial service, finding peace, and moving on.
- The Ups and Downs of Animal Care: Supporting those who volunteer or work professionally in animal shelters, veterinary offices, and other animal assistance work.
Rainbow Bridge (Anonymous)
"Just this side of Heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.
All the animals who had been ill or old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.
You have been spotted, and when your and your special friend finally meet, you cling to each other in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.
Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together........"
The Animal's Eden (Anonymous)
The Animal's Eden is a huge, beautiful walled garden where all pets go until such time as their human companions can join them. Only pet animals go to this walled garden and there are other special places for all the other animals, and especially beautiful places for animals who have suffered while on Earth and whose souls need peace and healing before they can move on. The garden is full of lawns and hedges, flower borders and shrubberies, wildflower meadows and patios of red brick. All of this is surrounded by a wall, just like a Middle Ages English garden, but much, much larger. The wall is not to keep the animals in and the garden is so huge that none of them feel as though they are in any way enclosed. And in any case there is a special gate, but I will come to that later.
In the Animal's Eden all the pets that have passed over and are waiting for their special human are free to do what they want, and because it is a heavenly place, none of them want to do anything that harms their animal friends. The horses and ponies graze and gallop in the meadows. The dogs romp on the lawns and sniff in the shrubberies. The cats lounge on the patios, basking in the sunshine, or take their ease in the dappled shade of trees. Birds are no longer caged, but fly free in the trees, eating the plentiful fruit and seeds. None of them actually feel hungry, but are provided with heavenly food if they wish so that they can eat without harming the others waiting alongside them. The garden is full of every kind of animal that has ever been a pet and which has someone special it wishes to wait for.
There is a special arch in the garden wall, the sort of brick arch which might have held a wrought iron gate in earthly gardens. Sometimes one or more of the animals gets a funny feeling, a bit like butterflies in the tummy. Those animals stop their playing or basking and make their way to the arched gate. Something special is about to happen. When they reach the gate they can see that their special human is walking towards the gate. Then, because the Animals' Eden is a place for animals only, those animals can walk through the arch to join their human friend(s) and walk together in the sunshine on the next stage of their souls' journey. For although the garden is a beautiful and happy place, there is nothing more joyful than a reunion between dear friends who have been apart too long.