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Grieving the Loss of a Beloved Pet: with Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio
Episode 1327th March 2023 • Boomer Banter • Wendy Green
00:00:00 00:44:50

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Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio is an award-winning leader and keynote speaker in the field of workplace mental health. He is also the author of The Pet Loss Companion, a book about the lessons learned from facilitating pet loss support groups. Ken co-hosts the podcast, The Pet Loss Companion podcast, where they answer listeners questions about the loss and aging of their pets.

"Grief is the elemental human experience. We are losing over and over and over again throughout our lives. It is important to recognize that we're a society that is pretty phobic about all kinds of negative feelings, any kind of negative feelings. It's important to be gentle with ourselves and not to layer judgment on top of an already very distressing experience. The best solution to grief is to take care of oneself."

~ Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio

Ken Dolan-Del Vecchio offers a compassionate approach to helping others cope with loss of their pet. Ken’s empathy was borne out of his experiences with losing pets, as well as with his clinical training. He emphasizes the importance of being kind to ourselves and those we love during the grieving process, as well as finding ways to honor the memories of our beloved pets. By understanding and embracing the ephemeral nature of life, we can cherish the time we have with those we love and commit to taking the best care of ourselves possible.

In this episode, you will learn the following:

1. Grief is a Normal human experience, but our society is averse to the uncomfortableness of the feelings.

2. The Intimacy of Pet Relationships: Uncover the unique bond between pet and owner and why the loss of a pet can often feel more intense than the loss of a beloved human family member.

3. Tips for Coping with Grief: Discover tips for coping with grief, including how to be compassionate to yourself, how to recognize the ephemeral nature of life, and how to take care of yourself.

Resources:

The Pet Loss Companion: Healing Advice from Family Therapists Who Lead Pet Loss Groups

The Pet Loss Companion podcast

Email Ken at kenddv@gmail.com

=========================

Connect with me:

Download the Vitality Assessment

Wendy Green is a Certified Life Coach, working with people going through the sometimes uncomfortable life transition from full-time work to “what’s next.” Find out more about Wendy’s 6-week “What’s Next Transition” Coaching workshop

Email: wendy@heyboomer.biz

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YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/HeyBoomer

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendy-green-cpc-heyboomerlive/

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Transcripts

Wendy Green:

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Oh, welcome to Hey Boomer.

Wendy Green:

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The show where we believe we are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.

Wendy Green:

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My name is Wendy Green and I am your host for Hey, Boomer.

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My guest today, Ken Dolan.

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Delvecchio is a licensed clinical social worker and a licensed marriage and family

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therapist who is guiding people to recover from the loss of a pet.

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As the co-host of the Pet Loss Companion podcast, Ken shares experiences,

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recommendations and reflections that help listeners with the loss of their animal

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companions. Losing a pet is like losing a family member.

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We all have.

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Well, most of us have beloved pets and have experienced.

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The devastation of the loss of those pets.

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My cat. Angel got to a point in her life about seven years ago where it was time to

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euthanize her.

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You can imagine that was an agonizing decision.

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But it really was the kind thing to do for her.

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And I was in the office in the vet's office with her as they administered.

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The dose of medicine that was going to stop her heart.

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And I'll never forget, you know, our eyes were locked.

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She was staring at me.

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And then they closed.

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And I am not sure how I stayed in the office with her and I am not sure how I could not

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have been in the office with her.

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So the feelings around pet loss.

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Are are enormous and confusing.

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And those are the kinds of things we're going to talk about today.

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With Ken.

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Before that, though, I would like to thank our sponsor, Road Scholar, for their support

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of Hey, Boomer.

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Road Scholar is the not-for-profit leader in educational travel for boomers and beyond,

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It is truly my favorite way to travel.

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In fact, I have two Road Scholar trips planned for this summer, one with other

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people my age and friends and one with my grandson.

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So please go and check out all that Road Scholar has to offer.

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You can look at their website by going to Road scholar.org/hey Boomer.

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And if you use the slash hey Boomer.

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It lets them know that we appreciate their sponsorship of our show.

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I also want to remind you of two important takeaways that you can find on my webpage

Wendy Green:

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that are free.

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First is the vitality assessment.

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And the vitality assessment will help you find out if you are fully vitalized.

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Do you have sustained energy?

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Is your tank half empty or is it time to really take stock of your life and make some

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changes? You can download the Vitality Assessment for free on the home page at

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HeyBoomer.biz .

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And the other thing that is totally free is a 20 to 30 minute complimentary coaching

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session with me where we can talk about where you are, where you want to be and how

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you might get there.

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You can sign up for a time that's available by going to, HeyBoomer.Biz/coaching and you

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can schedule a time.

Wendy Green:

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I look forward to talking to you about what's next in your life.

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as

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I mentioned, Ken Dolan Del Vecchio is a licensed clinical social worker and a

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licensed marriage and family therapist.

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He has found a calling, working with people, grieving the loss of their beloved pets.

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Ken has written a book called The Pet Loss Companion, which you can find on Amazon, and

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he has created a podcast with another therapist called the Pet Loss Companion

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podcast, where they answer listeners questions about dealing with loss and the

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aging of their pets.

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Ken is a lifelong animal companion enthusiast, having shared his home with dogs,

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cats. Chickens.

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Rabbits, cockatiels.

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Finches, chinchillas, guinea pigs, turtles, mice, one horse and one very special rat

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named Nero, who sat on Ken's shoulder eating peanuts while Ken studied late in the evening

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in college.

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He is also an award winning leader and keynote speaker in the field of workplace

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mental health, and I am looking forward to the conversation with Ken today.

Wendy Green:

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Hi there.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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Hey, Wendy, How are you?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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Nice to be with you.

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I'm so glad to have you back.

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You were with us a couple of years ago now.

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Yeah.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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Yeah. Talk about parenting with my parenting book.

Wendy Green:

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Right. So welcome back.

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So let's start with how did you get into working with people, grieving with pets and

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then writing The Pet Loss Companion?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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Well, quite a long time ago now, 2000, I believe.

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I was asked by my friend and colleague, Nancy Saxton Lopez.

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Nancy and I worked together in a psychiatric hospital in New Jersey, and she worked in the

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emergency ward.

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And I worked in the inpatient and outpatient program.

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And she was already running a pet loss support group at a local nonprofit.

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And her the person who ran the group.

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Opposite her. So she would do it on the first Tuesday of the month and then this

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other person would do it on the third Tuesday of the month.

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That person left and she invited me to do to facilitate that session.

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And so that's when I started.

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And I did that all the way through 2012.

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And I've recently started about a year and a few months ago, started doing it for a local,

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a local animal shelter.

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Dakin Humane shelter here in Massachusetts.

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So I've been doing this for about 14 years, I guess, and Nancy had been doing it for

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about 30 years.

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Wow. And toward the end of my time in New Jersey, I said, you know, there's so many

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lessons that people have shared with us about the experience of loss and the

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experience of healing and so many themes that it would make sense to compile them into

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a book. And so that's what the Pet Loss Companion is.

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It's really all about what we learned through through the experience of

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facilitating those groups.

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And it's an opportunity to give that back to people who are new to the experience of loss.

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And then when we when we got.

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A hold of this technology.

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The same, actually.

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You were the one who taught me about Streamyard and anchor.

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We we started doing this program once a week where a lot of the time we read letters from

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people who have written to us about their loss and we'll give them some thoughts on on

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what they're going through.

Wendy Green:

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So this has been a journey that you and Nancy have been on together for a while.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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For a long time. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Wendy Green:

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Well, it's definitely something that all of us experience.

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And I never even thought about a support group for it.

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But before we get into more of the weeds, talk to me in general about grief and

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grieving.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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It's very important that I think we focus a little bit on grief because first of all,

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grief is the elemental human experience we are losing over and over and over again

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throughout our lives. When we when we go to school and we leave home, we go to nursery

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school. We've lost we've lost the sanctuary of home.

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Our parents have lost us being always in their in their nest.

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When we go to college, we've lost again and they've lost again.

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And when we have our first love relationship and it ends as it very often does, we've

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gone, we go through grief.

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And so we are going through grief over and over and over again in our lives.

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And it has a very familiar pattern.

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So it starts out usually with shock, disbelief, kind of a numbness.

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And and then we go through a whole tumult of different feelings, often deep, deep sadness

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and anger, and desperately trying to recreate the sense of the world the way it

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was before.

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But ultimately, we live with it.

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We we don't we don't get over grief.

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We incorporate the knowledge of the loss into the story of our lives.

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And we live beside it is the way that I think about it.

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And so it's the same with any major loss.

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And it doesn't have to be the loss of a human being or a pet.

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It can be the loss of a place of work where we were very, very connected.

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It can be the loss of our home through whatever change happens.

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But so grief is something that I believe all therapists should be very well conversed,

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conversant with and able to help people with.

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And I believe that it's just something that is part of the fabric of everyday life for

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us.

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And it is something we try to avoid.

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I think, you know, like.

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Right, like the story of my cat when I knew I had to euthanize her and I said I was in

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the office with her.

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And we were looking at each other, you know, as her little eyes were closing and.

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I didn't know. I, I didn't know that I could do that, that I could stand there with her.

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But I also felt like I couldn't not do that.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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Well, I think the way you described it was really beautiful.

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And that that's the loving gift that you give.

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It's not. It's the it's the easing of suffering.

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It's not when you when you euthanize your pet or have your pet euthanized, you're not

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killing them.

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Whatever infirmity or illness or accident, that's what's killing them.

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And you are easing their suffering at the end of their lives.

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That's the best way to think about it.

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Now, that said, there's usually a whole bunch of mixed feelings that follow, and

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people often feel tremendous guilt.

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Did we do it too soon?

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Did we do it too late?

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Were they were they looking at us and thinking he or she is is killing me?

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They go through all kinds.

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And it's just that's normal.

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That's what happens.

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One of the things I think it's really important to recognize is that we're a

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society. And I think you were kind of heading in this direction.

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We're a society that is pretty phobic about all kinds of negative feelings, any kind of

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negative feelings. There's a great book by the brilliant Barbara Ehrenreich.

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It's called Bright-sided, and it's all about this idea that we should always be happy,

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happy, happy. And if we're feeling something negative, then there's something wrong.

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And that is simply not.

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Life. That's not reality.

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And so I highly recommend that book as a primer on how bizarre it is to think that we

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should always be happy and never have the ups and downs that really are part of life.

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Yeah, it's it's very hard.

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So staying on this topic of euthanasia, you've had I know you've had people write in

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with letters about that.

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Just how do you how do you what's the process people can go through to even help

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them make that decision?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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Well, the way I think about it, and I had to I lost two of my dogs last year.

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They were both one was just the day before turning 16 and the other was a couple of

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months after. And the one who died a couple of months after, she had promised me that she

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was going to live until at least 18.

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But it didn't didn't pan out.

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But it's the thing about euthanasia is.

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It is almost always an extraordinarily deliberate decision that's made.

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So there is a conversation that goes on within the family.

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If this is if there's more than one people who live with this animal companion, there is

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a conversation that includes their veterinarian and they're watching the process

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of their beloved pets deterioration.

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And the basic formula is that if your pet is experiencing suffering, that outweighs the

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pleasures of living, then it's probably time to move ahead with euthanasia.

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So if they're in so much pain that they can't move and they're obviously in distress,

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they're not eating, they're not drinking, they're looking at they're looking in a way

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that's incredibly debilitated.

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You're not doing them a favor by letting them linger in that kind of situation option.

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And so but the way that I like to think about it is use the consultation that's

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available to you. Talk with a vet who you trust and whose judgment you you have come to

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rely upon, if at all possible, talk with family members about it and make a decision

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that feels like it is collaborative to the extent that that's possible and realize that

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it's not going to be a perfect decision and that and that you're probably going to have

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misgivings afterwards. What if what about shouldn't shouldn't we have?

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It's just the nature of processing loss.

Wendy Green:

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Yeah. So like another cat that I had, I had I had been away on a business trip.

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I came back and she could barely move.

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I mean, she was like a rag doll.

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I took her to the vet.

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She had kidney failure.

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So they said to me, Well, we could put her on dialysis.

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And I was like, Oh my gosh, that would cost me so much money to take this cat twice a

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month, twice a week for dialysis.

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And and is there really quality of life?

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And so I guess that leads me into the next discussion, though, about.

Wendy Green:

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You know, the cost of care for pets.

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And how do people justify that sometimes or make those choices?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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Yeah, the technology has advanced greatly as it has for human beings in the past 15, 20

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years. And so now you're often presented with an option of, well, we could put your

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pet in an oxygen tent, or we could give them dialysis or we could do this kind of surgery

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or that kind of surgery that may cost thousands and thousands of dollars.

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And we've heard from people who have spent 20,000, $30,000.

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And what we tend to recommend is it's a good idea to have a sense of the limit.

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That you can afford.

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And to have that well ahead of hand, well ahead of the need to make that kind of

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decision. So if you can, you can have a figure of 4000 or 5000 or 1000 or whatever

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your household may be able to sustain.

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That may be a very helpful reference point when and if that time comes.

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And also again, talking with your vet, because there's also we just recently read an

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article about what's called futile care, which is giving all these kinds of

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interventions, medical interventions, when it's clear that your pet is going to die

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pretty soon anyway, that's different than palliative care.

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Palliative care is is to ease suffering.

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It's painkillers.

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It's it's to help to to help the animal to feel as comfortable as possible.

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In the last period of their lives rather than futile care.

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And so and it's just very important also to listen to your vet like one to when when my

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dog Abigail, who died in August of the year before last, actually, at this point, she was

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in great distress.

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I mean, she was she was actually dying because we were afterwards we raised her to

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an emergency vet and she just started dying in the car.

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We took her back and and she died at the vets where we were at.

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But I remember asking our vet, who I've known for a long time, what would you do if

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this were your.

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Dog. And she said, Well, that's hard to answer because you love her, but I don't see

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her improving. So her clinical status is that she's probably going to die.

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But if you race her to this emergency service 20 minutes away, they will be able to

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put her in an oxygen tent.

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She may revive and continue for a little bit.

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So we did that in our great distress.

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It didn't work. We came back, actually.

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But it's a very it's good to have somebody who can ask that question to like, what would

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you do if this were your if this were your animal friend?

Speaker3:

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Yeah, it's so hard.

Speaker3:

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And, you know, the the.

Wendy Green:

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Grief that we experience when we lose a pet.

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Can be very confusing.

Wendy Green:

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You know, I know that when I had to put Angel down.

Wendy Green:

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It took me months, Ken.

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Months. And I kept saying to myself.

Speaker3:

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This is ridiculous.

Wendy Green:

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You know, this is a cat.

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This is not your parent.

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This is not your sibling.

Wendy Green:

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This is not your child.

Wendy Green:

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Why are you not getting over this?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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Yeah, well, it's so important to be gentle with ourselves and not to layer judgment on

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top of an already very distressing experience.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

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And this, I think, goes back to the question of our society and its and its ability to

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teach us about what's normal.

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Of course, we're going to grieve when we have any significant loss.

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And it's also important to realize that every loss is unique.

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And when it comes to pets, we hear over and over and over again.

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I'm I'm experiencing this as being more difficult than the loss of my parent or the

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loss of my sibling or the loss of my best human friend.

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And what we've come to understand is that pets live in our homes.

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We take care of them in a way that is uniquely intimate.

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We are touching them all the time where we have to pay attention to be aware of how

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they're doing. We feed them, we take them out to go to the bathroom, or we clean up

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after them and we are communicating with them in a way that goes beyond words.

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So it's almost like the way that I think about it.

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It's very similar to the way I would care for my infant son before he could speak,

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because our pets never learn to speak.

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And we learn to communicate.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

We learn to intuit.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

A lot. Like you can almost feel like you're speaking to them because we get so close.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

They are the first living being to greet us in the morning.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

They're generally very happy to see us then and they're happy to see us when we come home

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

from work. It's a very uncomplicated kind of love.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so when we lose them, we lose this huge chunk of our lives, of our daily lives, and

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

we lose a relationship that is so close and so, so much a part of our heart that it often

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

feels so, so much more pressing than than even the loss of a beloved human family

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

member. And there's also that rhetoric that's in the society.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's less so these days.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But what you said it was only a cat.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

I mean, how many times have people lost a cat or a dog or a parrot or a guinea pig and

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

somebody and we hear this in in both the support group that I facilitate and from

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

people who write to us for the podcast, people who they thought were very close to

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

them will say things like, oh my God, you've got three cats.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And one of them died. Like, What's the big deal?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You know, it's just a cat.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's like all of this stuff that you wouldn't expect from somebody who has empathy

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

and respect for your experience.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so I believe that that goes down that goes to this idea that we're not a society

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

where we're used to being empathic with each other in our distress.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so if a person all you got to do with somebody who's grieving is be with them.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And be compassionate.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You can't fix it. You can't take it away.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But you can be a compassionate presence.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And yet that's very hard for many people because in order to be close to another

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

person who's in pain, we have to resonate to some extent with their discomfort.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And some people just have very little tolerance for that because we're not used to

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

it. We're not practiced at it.

Speaker3:

:

Yeah, Yeah.

Speaker3:

:

And a lot of people don't.

Wendy Green:

:

Understand the loss of a pet.

Wendy Green:

:

You know, they they'll be with you if your parent dies for a little while.

Wendy Green:

:

For a little while.

Wendy Green:

:

Even in that situation, you know, they don't know what to say after a while.

Wendy Green:

:

So, you know, just you don't talk about it to them.

Wendy Green:

:

Yeah. So are there besides just being with somebody, do you have suggestions on what to

Wendy Green:

:

say to somebody that I'm very sorry.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

I'm very sorry.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

I know this hurts tremendously.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You just what you do is you just acknowledge the pain and.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And you ask if there's anything that you can do just to.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

When we lose a human family member, you might go shopping for the person or you might

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

bring them.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You might bring them a glass of water if they're clearly in distress.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You But but really, it's all about just bearing witness and being an empathic,

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

compassionate presence who is validating what that person is experiencing.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And as you said, it can go on for a very long time or a very short time.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Each of us grieve differently.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And for some people, it's going to be waves.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And, you know, grief is not linear.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's like you might be feeling awful one minute and then you're feeling pretty okay

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

the next. And then a few minutes later you might hear a song or you might see a reminder

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

and you're just totally distraught again, So true.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And that can go on for a long time.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And the way that I think about grief is that we take this very unpleasant, unwelcome news

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

and we emotionally chew on it over and over and over and over again until it's no longer

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

such fresh news.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And it can't.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It can't. Rile us so much.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

For the most part, it still probably will at anniversary time.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

The anniversary of the pet's death.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Maybe their birthday.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Maybe the change of seasons.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Holidays tend to be very evocative, but we really just have to kind of wade through it

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

and allow ourselves to experience whatever it is like for us.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And eventually it wanes.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It decreases.

Wendy Green:

:

So I'm thinking of two questions right now.

Wendy Green:

:

One is I was talking to a friend about being a single person with a pet.

Wendy Green:

:

And, you know, you talk about the intimacy.

Wendy Green:

:

I mean, we are bonded, you know?

Speaker3:

:

Yeah. Yeah, right.

Wendy Green:

:

And the thought of losing her.

Wendy Green:

:

Her name is Pepper. The thought of losing her is just something I can't even.

Speaker3:

:

I can't even wrap my arms.

Wendy Green:

:

Around it at this.

Speaker3:

:

Point.

Wendy Green:

:

So my question from that statement is.

Wendy Green:

:

Are there things that would help prepare us emotionally?

Wendy Green:

:

I mean, I guess I felt the same way about the loss of my dad.

Wendy Green:

:

Like I didn't think I'd ever get over it, you know?

Wendy Green:

:

But how do you prepare for a loss?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Well, first of all, I don't think we ever do get over it.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Actually. I think we I think we integrate it into our experience.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Like, I think both of my parents are gone.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

They've been gone for quite a long time.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

I think about them every day.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

I think about my dogs regularly pretty much every day.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so I think that they're just sort of present with us in a different way.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And you can describe that a lot of different ways depending on what your spirituality is

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

and the way you think about the narrative of your life.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But I think that as they grow older, we need to acknowledge that we won't have them

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

forever and we need to.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

One of the things that I think helps us is to recognize is the ephemeral nature of

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

everything. So when I got my new puppy a couple now it'll be about a year and a half

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

ago. Her name is Hildy.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

I remember she's a little eight week old puppy.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And I said, You know, 12 years goes by really fast and so I need to I need to hold

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

this little being with as much love and care as I can every day because probably I'm going

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

to outlive her and I'm going to go through this again.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

So I think the first thing we do is we cherish them all the time, all the time.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And we realize that we're not going to have them forever.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And that makes it even even sweeter in a way.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And we as we if if they decline slowly, we let other people who love and respect us know

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

that this is coming and this may be very hard for us, that's a good idea.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And we we talk with our pet, too, about how much we love them.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

We try not to have any loose ends.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

We may do things like create things that will help us.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Remember. Then we take videos, we take pictures, we, you know, we do the things that

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

will help us hold on to them.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And it depends on the way you think about pets.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

So for me, I got to have more than one all the time.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Like I have two cats, a dog and 22 chickens and and that does not feel.

Speaker3:

:

Like you live on a farm that.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Does not feel like enough.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so, so if my husband were of a different sense, if he thought if he were a different

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

sensibility, I'd probably have more than two dogs.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so and I used to tell people, I try to stagger them.

Wendy Green:

:

I know, I know.

Wendy Green:

:

I've thought about that.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

So but I think that I think that we just take and we also just take the best care of

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

ourselves that we can always mean The best solution to grief is to take care of oneself.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's to make sure that you get up in the morning and that you take your shower or you

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

take your bath and and you get yourself dressed and you follow through with the

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

activities of the day as best you can.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

They may be a bit lessened because you are in such a sad place that day, but you do.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You kind of try to keep the pattern going as best you can.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You do some kind of exercise or movement or meditation or stretching or yoga or whatever

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

you do to take care of yourself.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You try to nourish yourself as best you can.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You try to get rest, even if it's hard, even if you can't fall asleep, or even if you are

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

spending a lot of time in bed and you're not getting that much rest, you know, you try to

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

keep your structure going.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And again, I don't think there's I don't think there's a recipe.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's not avoidable.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

That's another thing I think it's important to keep in mind.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's not avoidable.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

We are we are born to lose and to gain over and over and over again.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And grief is the cost of having loved.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And it's a good thing to love.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Love is important in our lives.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so why not do as much of it as you can and realize that?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's all it's everything is a femminile.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Everything is just for now.

Speaker3:

:

Yeah. Yeah.

Wendy Green:

:

And that's a that's a kind of a positive spin to put on it.

Speaker3:

:

That it's everything.

Wendy Green:

:

Is to love. I like.

Speaker3:

:

That.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

There's, there's one other point I'll make, Wendy, and that is that there's a great book

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

by Duane Elgin.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's called Voluntary Simplicity.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And it's just a brilliant little book.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And he has a passage in it that the passage has a title and the title is Let Death Be

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Your Friend.

Speaker3:

:

And it's called Voluntary Simplicity.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Voluntary Simplicity.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Okay. And it's absolutely brilliant, soulful book.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And his his thinking is, again, it's very simple that if you realize that everything

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

our lives are going to end, every relationship we have, everything we cherish

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

is going to end. It makes it so much more valuable.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Every moment is more valuable if we understand that and we embrace it, and

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

certainly with our pets, unless we've unless our pet is a turtle or a parrot, you know,

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

you know, they might outlive us.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And then we've got to have a succession plan for them.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Yeah. And so but we're we're born to lose and we're born to love.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And and lose and then love again, hopefully.

Wendy Green:

:

So what do you think about memorializing them?

Wendy Green:

:

Memorial services, keeping their ashes, those kinds of things.

Wendy Green:

:

Do you think that helps people deal with the loss?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

There's no because there aren't set ways.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Like if you belong to a community of faith and a family member dies, there's often a

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

prescribed ritual, right?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so that kind of structures the beginning of our grief experience and the memorializing

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

with pets, that's generally not the case.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And there's there's a myriad of options.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so there is you can you can take your pet's body and bury it.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

If you have land to do that in, you can have them cremated and save the ashes or not save

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

the ashes. You can.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Now there's a new way of body bodily disposal called acclamation, which doesn't

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

require fire, but provides you with something akin to ashes.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Some people actually have their pets freeze dried, so they they they retain their body in

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

a desiccated form and it can be posed like a stuffed animal or like taxidermy.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

The way that that I think about this is you you do what feels right for you.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And that will vary so that, for example, we have four of our dog's ashes on our hutch in

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

our dining room.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

We have I have cats buried in the yard.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

I've left cats at other locations where I lived and rabbits and birds.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And I think you do what feels right.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And many people will keep the ashes.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Some people will have the ashes contained within a bit of jewelry, or at least some of

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

the ashes in a bit of jewelry.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Some people will make what they what they tend to refer to as altars.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

So we've had people come to our groups and also write to us and they'll have either like

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

a little corner of a dresser where they have their pets collar toys, maybe a footprint in

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

clay, those kinds of things that are that are for holding on to the memory.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But the way I think about this is you do what feels right for you and for those others

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

who who loved your animal companion.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And that's what's right.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

That's what's right for you.

Speaker3:

:

Yeah, we're getting some comments here.

Wendy Green:

:

Josephine's says that her pets are her babies so much a part of every day.

Wendy Green:

:

Barbara says she's lost without her baby, Cody.

Wendy Green:

:

I'm sorry, Barbara.

Wendy Green:

:

And Michelle says she wants her.

Speaker3:

:

Ashes co-mingled with her pet at the end.

Speaker3:

:

So they're going to rest together.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

That's great. I might do that as well.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

I might, Yeah.

Speaker3:

:

That's kind of sweet as well.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And, you know, there's no there's very few right or wrongs here.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

I mean, when we got we had a beautiful little Chihuahua whose name was Lily.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And when I got Lily's ashes back, I had to open them and stick my finger in them.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

So I had to touch her.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Oh, and and we do.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

What we need to do is the way I think about it.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And as long as nobody gets hurt, it's right, you know?

Speaker3:

:

So what about when is it right to replace them, you know, after one dies there.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Again, the way that I think about this one is don't do it.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

If you're ambivalent, you can always insert more time, always, right?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You can always give a little more time.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But we have seen situations where people rush out and they get a new animal and it

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

adds to the stress in a way that is not constructive because grief is grief is really

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

the pattern of our response to a major stress loss is a major stress, right?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

So what grief is, is what we go through.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

We're what we call that response to this major stress, adapting to this new change in

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

our life. That's been very, very stressful.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

If you bring a new puppy or a new kitten or a new horse or and you are you are not at a

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

place where you're feeling ready for that.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It can just make things harder.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And we've had some cases where people actually adopt a pet and then they give the

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

pet back because it was too soon.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But generally what happens is you kind of know when it's time.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And so if you're not sure, do things like volunteer at an animal shelter and go and

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

socialize the cats or socialize the dogs, take them for walks, be with them and see how

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

it feels.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But don't ever assume that if you bring a new pet into your life, it's going to short

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

circuit the grief. It's not going to do that.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You're not going to feel like, now I don't have to grieve because I've got this new

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

friend. What you're probably going to feel is even more intense grief because the

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

presence of your new animal companion punctuates emphasizes their difference from

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

the relationship that was lost.

Speaker3:

:

Yeah, it's funny how.

Wendy Green:

:

You say you kind of know.

Wendy Green:

:

You know, with Pepper, I, I waited.

Wendy Green:

:

I think it was a year and a half to two years after Angel died and I had my grandkids

Wendy Green:

:

here and I was looking for something to do, So I was like, Well, let's just go to the

Wendy Green:

:

Humane Society and visit the animals.

Wendy Green:

:

Right. I'm not getting another pet.

Wendy Green:

:

And I mean that.

Wendy Green:

:

Immediately we saw each other and that was, you know, we knew we had to be together,

Wendy Green:

:

Pepper and I.

Wendy Green:

:

And then they helped me name her, which was even more special.

Wendy Green:

:

Um, so it's funny how if you we learn to listen to ourselves and think, like you said

Wendy Green:

:

earlier, you know, being gentle with yourself, learning to listen to yourself.

Wendy Green:

:

I think these are life lessons that we can get from our pets and from grieving.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Yeah. Grief is a great teacher.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's a great, great teacher.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It opens us up in ways that are often able to help us understand our priorities better,

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

to understand what's whose most important in our lives because of the ways they respond to

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

us at a time of great vulnerability.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It allows us to gain wisdom about the truth of the way life operates and how very

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

fleeting it is.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

All these things are part of the lessons of grief, I think.

Speaker3:

:

Well, it's.

Wendy Green:

:

It's important work that you're doing.

Wendy Green:

:

And I don't think it's that common.

Speaker3:

:

To find this kind of.

Wendy Green:

:

Support for pet loss.

Wendy Green:

:

So I appreciate what you're doing.

Speaker3:

:

Um, let's see. She said she's someone else said I have six dogs.

Speaker3:

:

Had six dogs.

Speaker3:

:

The last of my pack is almost 16.

Speaker3:

:

He has Cushing's and has lost most of his muscle mass, but he still walks with me in

Speaker3:

:

the dog park. Slow but steady.

Speaker3:

:

I will take time before I rescue my final dog.

Speaker3:

:

Platinum plan on getting an older dog so I won't have to grieve losing me if I die

Speaker3:

:

earlier than expected.

Speaker3:

:

Well.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Yeah, Yeah. Very thoughtful.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

That's a very thoughtful way to think about this.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And to be very planful is a good thing.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And. And sometimes when we have.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

If we're at a point in life where we're older and that includes many of us, we can

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

adopt a pet with the knowledge that we may have to have someone in mind who is who has

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

agreed to take them.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Who has agreed to take them if we are incapacitated or if we die.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And and so I have a an incredibly energetic 95 year old aunt who has a 14 year

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

old dog whose name is Bella.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And I will happily take Bella.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

If Gladys Aunt Gladys is not able to care for her anymore, she certainly is able to

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

care for her now.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And but but there'll be people lined up to take Bella to.

Speaker3:

:

Take.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And want to be first on that list.

Speaker3:

:

So that's that's. Well I.

Wendy Green:

:

Hope she knows.

Speaker3:

:

That.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

There's a there.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You know, there's a lot of ways and I've told my husband that if I were to get hit by

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

a bus. Each of my dog because he's he's not really he doesn't relate.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

They're not his dogs.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

They're my dogs. They live in our house.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And he's loving toward them.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But they're my dogs.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

And we understand that if I get hit by a bus, those dogs go to a particular the very,

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

very kind shelter with endowments.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

They both have significant endowments.

Speaker3:

:

Do they?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Oh, they care for them because you never know, right?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

You never know.

Speaker3:

:

And you also never know if he'll.

Wendy Green:

:

If he'll be ready to give them up.

Wendy Green:

:

You know.

Speaker3:

:

My.

Wendy Green:

:

With my mom and dad, he had he was the animal person.

Wendy Green:

:

He had this little dog, Reggie, that adored him and he adored this dog.

Wendy Green:

:

And my mother really barely tolerated the dog.

Wendy Green:

:

And when my dad died, I was ready to take Reggie and she said, no, she couldn't.

Wendy Green:

:

And Reggie would sit on the chair and, like, talk.

Wendy Green:

:

Oh, you know, like he was talking to my dad.

Wendy Green:

:

And finally, Mom learned to love Reggie.

Wendy Green:

:

It was really amazing transition that happened there.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

How can you not love a dog?

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But I know there are some people for whom that that is that is true.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

But to each his own.

Wendy Green:

:

I know in the middle of winter when you got to take him out for a walk it's you're glad

Wendy Green:

:

you have a cat. So Ken, this has been amazingly helpful, incredibly helpful.

Wendy Green:

:

And it's not something that we've talked about before on this show.

Wendy Green:

:

So I really appreciate that you agreed to come on and share this with us.

Wendy Green:

:

If you have questions for Ken, you can email him at Ken D.

Wendy Green:

:

D That's David.

Wendy Green:

:

David V like Victor at gmail.com.

Wendy Green:

:

And he might even use one of your questions on his show, The Pet Loss Companion, which is

Wendy Green:

:

a podcast and also the name of his book, which you can find on Amazon.

Wendy Green:

:

So I totally I'll hopefully not calling you anytime soon for help with pepper for the.

Wendy Green:

:

I know, but.

Speaker3:

:

Thank you for this, Ken.

Speaker3:

:

Very much.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

Thank you for having the opportunity.

Ken Dolan Del Vecchio:

:

It's always it's always a pleasure and a privilege to speak with your audience.

Speaker3:

:

Thank you. Thank you.

Wendy Green:

:

Before I go, I just want to remind everybody about the vitality assessment that you can

Wendy Green:

:

download that from hey, Boomer biz and find out where you rank.

Wendy Green:

:

Are you fully vitalized or is it time to make a change?

Wendy Green:

:

You can also go to, Hey, Boomer Biz slash coaching to schedule a complimentary 20 to 30

Wendy Green:

:

minute conversation with me to talk about what's next for you in your life.

Wendy Green:

:

And as always, I ask you to please support our sponsor Rhodes scholar.org slash.

Wendy Green:

:

Hey, Boomer. So my guess next week.

Wendy Green:

:

Her name is Cathy Kulesa.

Wendy Green:

:

And Cathy spent three decades in the hospitality industry, moving up in ranks in

Wendy Green:

:

management training, customer service, loyalty, marketing and executive leadership.

Wendy Green:

:

Now she's a consultant and a speaker helping leaders and multigenerational workforces.

Wendy Green:

:

And we are living in a.

Speaker3:

:

World.

Wendy Green:

:

Where there are up to four generations.

Speaker3:

:

In the workplace.

Wendy Green:

:

Today. And so we're going to talk to Cathy about some of the challenges, the

Wendy Green:

:

opportunities for learning and building those connections across the generations.

Wendy Green:

:

And I like to leave you with the belief that we can all live with passion, live with

Wendy Green:

:

relevance, and live with courage.

Wendy Green:

:

And remember that you are never too old to set another goal.

Speaker3:

:

Or.

Wendy Green:

:

Dream a new dream.

Speaker3:

:

Thanks again, Ken.

Speaker4:

:

Oh, thank you.

Speaker3:

:

My name is Wendy Greene, and.

Wendy Green:

:

This has been.

Wendy Green:

:

Speaker3: Hey, Boomer.

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