Funeral homes are now employing therapy professionals to help comfort their customers. These professionals are not your ordinary therapists. They don’t speak and they’re often covered in fur. Animal therapy is becoming part of a package for people who are planning funeral services to help with the grieving process. Dogs are trained for animal therapy through a certified course, but can also gain certification through paperwork and application. For years, dogs have provided comfort and joy to people when they struggle.
Grief is a process. Coping with loss in the form of a lost life is a tremendous emotional undertaking which requires time, patience, and unconditional love. For humans, these can be tall orders, especially during grief when stress is high. For dogs, however, it is a simple task. Dogs are content to be pet, to be nearby, and to offer a timely nudge of love. Dogs cannot talk or criticize, judge, or cause complications. They’re simply there to love and be loved. In times of grief and loss, that is exactly what people need.
Elizabeth Kubler Ross defined the five stages of grief. Denial, depression, anger, bargaining and acceptance never happen in any particular order and can cycle over time. Coping with loss can be an overwhelming and unbearable experience when there isn’t anything to plan. Trying to make decisions, make plans, organize a funeral, and take care of other people’s feelings can be too much. Animals help create a sense of connection, love, and calm.
Animal therapy for grief can be used in addiction treatment as well. In many ways, the early months of addiction treatment include processing grief and loss. It is common for addicts and alcoholics in recovery to experience getting sober as a loss, therefore having to go through the cycle of grief to cope. Drugs and alcohol are personified for many people, meaning they take on forms other than substances. Drugs and alcohol can be confidants, trusted friends, sources of pleasure, identity, and more. Letting go of drugs and alcohol can be like letting go of someone who was deeply beloved. It is the loss of a relationship, a lifestyle, and a former part of the self.
With animals, this process is supported with unconditional love and care. Lakehouse Recovery Center operates from a luxury residential home on the shores of Lake Sherwood. Our treatment center welcomes client’s pets as support animals to ge4t through the early recovery experience. For information on our residential treatment programs, detox, and aftercare services, call us today: 877.762.3707.