Pet Bereavement Counselling
Face to face, telephone, email, instant messaging or webcam counselling
What I offer
I offer counselling support around two main areas:
- bereavement of a human being
- bereavement of an animal being (pet bereavement)
However, our life events tend not to fall into distinct categories, and so it would be quite normal if we started talking, for example, about bereavement, that you might want to also talk about other things, such as the end of a relationship, or work or family issues etc … as all of that might be related to how you are feeling now …
I obtained my main counselling qualification (BACP accredited advanced diploma) in counselling in 2008. Since then, I have done additional training in youth counselling, human bereavement, pet bereavement, and online counselling, as follows:
- Diploma in Clinical and Pastoral Counselling, 2018-2020 (ongoing)
- Diploma in Online Counselling Skills and Practice, OCST, 2019
- Pet Bereavement Course, Blue Cross, 2016
- Diploma in Youth Counselling, Institute of Counselling, 2014
- Awareness in Bereavement Care foundation course, Cruse Bereavement Care, 2008
- Advanced Diploma in Integrative Counselling, 2006-8, Iron Mill Institute
I am a Registered Member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (MBACP), number 157344, which holds a register of qualified counsellors, and is regulated by the Professional Standards Authority, which oversees health and care professions. I am listed on the BACP register as a qualified and experience counsellor.
I have also been trained in online counselling skills and practice by an ACTO approved training provider (Association for Counselling and Therapy Online), and am a member of the ACTO.
As such my counselling practice is governed by the BACP Ethical Framework for the counsellor professions, the BACP guidelines for working online, and for providing telephone counselling, and the ACTO Code of Ethics. Please see the following for further details:
I started my professional life working in different roles in IT – systems analyst, trainer, and university lecturer. I have also been a member of the Auxiliary Air Force, and worked as a (sub aqua) diving instructor, both in the UK and overseas. During that time, I also did some training in massage therapy.
In 2006, following on from some initial training in counselling skills, I began a BACP accredited professional counselling course. With my experience as a lecturer, of working with students having just left school, I was keen to work as a schools counsellor. I had also noticed that I had been developing a growing interest in bereavement support and death, and as a result, I began working as counsellor (for my placements) for Cruse Bereavement Care, and for a local high school. I also completed Cruse’s Awareness in Bereavement Care Foundation course, and began a diploma in Youth Counselling.
In 2008, I qualified as a professional counsellor, and continued working part time for Cruse, and as a school counsellor.
I left teaching in 2013, and also had a break from counselling to spend more time with my young children, during which time I did some work as a massage therapist from home, and also helped at my children’s school. I currently have one child at primary school, and one at high school.
As my children neared high school age, I decided to re-start my counselling practice, and re-joined Cruse.
Why I offer suport for the death of a person
I am trained and experienced in providing counselling support to people who are experiencing a variety of issues, such as bereavement, low self-esteem, self-harm, stress, relationship issues, eating disorders, anger, and parental separation and divorce.
However, when I was training to be a counsellor, I applied to join Cruse Bereavement Care, attending the ‘Cruse Foundation Course’ for bereavement support. I subequently worked for Cruse, helping to support people who were bereaved after the death of a person, both whilst I continued my counsellor training, and also after I finished my advanced diploma and qualified as a professional counsellor.
By that time, my mother had become ill and I had been with her as she died in hospital. I had also experienced the death of two family friends, and a work colleague.
Experiencing those bereavements, along with the training from Cruse, opened my eyes to how we deal with death in modern society, and to how valuable and necessary it can be for many people who are bereaved, to have someone to talk to about what they are going through – someone who is not a friend or family member.
Why I offer suport for the death of an animal
As a child we had rabbits, budgies, cats, a guinea pig, and a dog as family pets. As I got older, and each of them died in due course, like many children, I felt sad at each death.
However, it was not until I became an adult, and the cat I had obtained from a rescue died unexpectedly, that the grief I felt from being bereaved felt heart wrenching and unending.
After her death, my partner and I brought two kittens into our lives. We split up after a few years, and I took the cats with me – my faithful companions, as I started a new relationship, had children, moved house, and changed jobs. Then after 10 years, one of them became ill and died. I was devastated again at the loss of an animal being whom I had shared my life with.
His brother became progressively more frail, by which time we had acquired four more cats, and I thought that I would have a good ten years without any of those become ill or dying. However, that was not to be. In 2016, my then 18 year old died (was put to sleep), and six weeks later I was faced with the same thing for one of our other four cherished cats – at only 11 months old, due to a fatal disease. That was hard enough and I grieved and grieved. It was at the end of that year that I did the Blue Cross course, wanting to support others who might be feeling the depth of grief that I had experienced.
However, again, it was not to be. One of our remaining three cherished cats became ill with the same fatal disease less than a year afterwards. I nursed him for 10 weeks, but again, I was faced with grieving the loss of a beautiful animal being. I felt totally devastated.
I had initially not come across ‘pet bereavement’ as a specific focus for counselling, but eventually came across the support offered by Blue Cross. Up until that point I had not come across anyone who had experienced such profound grief as I had from the death of a pet, and I decided to do the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement training course to try to offer support to other people who might also be grieving the loss of their pet.
Following the deaths of our cherished animal beings, and the terrible grief that I felt at their loss, I developed a passion for wanting to support others grieving, not just the death of a human being, but also the death of an animal being. Consequently, having completed the Blue Cross Pet Bereavement course, I began offering pet bereavement support in 2017, and also created a website specifically to support people grieving the loss of an animal being:
Why I offer bereavement support
We all lead busy lives, and I realised that in the depths of my grief, that the support from people nearest to me was not enough – even when they went home, walked away, said goodbye or whatever the situation of us being together was, – I was still grieving when they were no longer around. I also found that the support, relief, and change of mood I could get from other ways such as going for a walk, going to the shops, drinking a glass of wine, eating chocolate, cakes or other junk food, or watching TV … was also not enough – I found that the calm, or relief, or focus on the wine, chocolate, or TV was short and temporary – it didn’t last, and the grief was still there no matter what I did.
I also experienced grief that can be so dark and so persistent that as a human being, it may feel that we can’t seem to be able to grieve enough, can’t seem to get all of the upset out of us, can’t seem to cry enough, and can’t seem to talk about it enough – that the feelings just won’t go away, or get any better.
I’ve recounted above a lot of my personal experience of bereavement, and I’ve done that, not to be self indulgent, but to hopefully show how I have become interested and passionate about wanting to support other people who are also bereaved.
Depending on each of our circumstances – family and friends we may have around us, what is going on for us in our lives at the time that we experience a death, whether we want support from other people or not – all of that will vary. What I try to offer is another means of support that you can reach out to, if you feel that you need to speak to someone who is not a member of your family, or a friend, or a doctor, or a vet, but who is trained and experienced in helping, and being with people who are bereaved, and who are upset.
What I offer
There are many voluntary organisations that offer bereavement support for the loss of a person, such as Cruse Bereavement Care. For the loss of a pet, there is the Blue Cross. All of these agencies offer an excellent service – please see my Help page for their contact details.
As with any counselling, I can’t claim to be able to ‘make you feel better’ or to ‘fix you’. What I offer is a quiet, space for you to sit with your feelings or to help you think through them if that’s what you want to do.
I offer my sessions in a variety of ways – face to face, telephone, email, instant messaging or webcam. I offer counselling as a one-off session, or a series of sessions. I do not put a limit on the number of sessions I offer per person – grief takes it own time to work through.
I also do not specify a minimum number of sessions – however, with support for the death of an animal, I have found that often people only want to have one support session – to talk through the depth of their feelings – at being surprised that they are so upset at the death of an animal.
The counselling that I offer is mainly ‘person-centred’ which means that I will be lead by what by what you want to say – to talk through how you are feeling.
In addition, if it feels right, I might also offer to talk through issues associated with death, such as how we as a society tend to deal with, and talk about death, or about a managed death involving medical care.
In addition, sometimes, when we feel that we are doing OK, something will trigger our grief and bring it all to the surface again. Consequently, I also offer ad-hoc sessions, subject to my being available. – for which you can just ring up, text or email me to book a session with no obligation to come back again if you don’t want to.
Copyright © 2019 Angela Fletcher Counselling Support