Coping with the loss of a pet? They can offer grief support.

Ms. Goodfriend, 79, who began counseling pet owners in 2005, credited the boom to the pandemic, which she said made people “more aware of grief and that more inclined to express.”

At Schwarzman Animal Medical Center, which has been operating in Manhattan since 1910, a free pet loss support group has been available to clients since 1983. , said it started with about five people attending each in-person session. By the time he stopped working at the center in 2011, that number had doubled.

The demand for such gatherings has forced the center to expand its offerings: there are now several grief groups that meet over video calls a few times a month. One is for people whose animals have died within the past three months, while the other caters to owners who are still grieving for pets that have died within the past year. Judith Harbor, 40, a veterinary social worker at the center who leads grief groups, recently started a third for owners of dogs with serious health problems. Each group has 20 participants from around the country, and some have waiting lists.

Ms Harbor said participants come from a variety of backgrounds and range in age from 18 to 85. The pets they’re mourning aren’t just cats and dogs — turtles, cockatiels, parrots, lizards, horses and rabbits were also raised in the sessions, she said.

Ms. Harbor, whose work at the center includes daily counseling for individual clients and veterinarians, said many of the group’s participants have said they want to share their grief over a dying pet with their loved ones. unable to do. Some people have felt justified in grieving their pets, while others have felt rejected by loved ones who have told them to get another pet and move on, she said.

She said the pain of a pet’s death often goes unrecognized by an individual’s community and society as a whole: “When you go through something like this, you really feel lost and you’re a Kind of.”

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