Iowa Hospice, Mitchell Family Funeral Home offer pet loss support group

Losing a loved one is never easy. But being made to feel as if your sorrow over that loss is somehow unfounded only adds to the pain – even if the loved one is an animal.

“Society just doesn’t want to recognize that it is a serious loss,” said Mary Hildreth, bereavement coordinator for Iowa Hospice. “It’s okay to be sad at the loss of their pet.”

Iowa Hospice and Mitchell Family Funeral Home will host a pet loss grief support group 6 to 7 p.m. April 9 at the Marshalltown Public Library, 105 W. Boone St.

Hildreth said the idea took form when she read the blog of Marty Mitchell, of Mitchell Family Funeral Home. In his blog, Mitchell brought the problem to light, she said. They began to organize a group.

Sarah Rosenblum, director at Marshalltown Public Library, said she has lost a pet and its a terrible thing to deal with. She is glad the library could accommodate something she said is an important outlet for the community.

“They wrap their paws around your heart,” she said. “I have grieved deeply over my pets … people’s pets are important to their quality of life.”

The group met last year, although Hildreth said it was organized in haste and only one person showed. This year, with a little more planning, she hopes for a better turn out. She said there is definitely a need for the group. Organizers have already began passing out flyers to area veterinarians and asking them to inform people who euthanize their pets about the group.

“It is very, very similar to loss of a person,” she said. “We want to acknowledge how deep that grief can be.”

Organizers are asking those who have lost a pet to bring a photo to the group and share what the pet brought to their life. Hildreth said talking about the loss helps validate an emptiness that is often ignored.

The group is informal. It is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Mary Hildreth at 641-753-6203 or Mitchell Family Funeral Home at 641-844-1234.