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How Therapy Dogs Can Help When Grieving

Published: June 10, 2019

They say that dogs are man’s best friend. So, it makes sense that they can be a great support when we’re going through a hard time, whether that’s an illness or injury, depression, or grieving over a loved one. Therapy dogs are trained to comfort people through loss and other difficulties. Places like funeral homes and hospitals often employ therapy dogs to help people through the loss of a loved one.

Why dogs are the perfect therapy companions

It’s official – pets make us happy! Studies have found that being around and looking after pets helps to lower blood pressure, relieve stress, reduce loneliness, and lower reports of anxiety and depression. But why are dogs especially ideal companions for grief, depression, and other issues?

Just look at them, they’re always happy! And that can be infectious. Dogs provide us with unconditional love, they’re always excited to see us when we return home, even if we’ve just been to the shop for 10 minutes, and they’re completely non-judgmental. When you’re going through a tough time, having someone around you like that can be a real boost.

How can dogs help us through grief?

Research by the NFDA found that 34.5% of people would be very interested in having a therapy dog present at a memorial service. Many funeral homes are now offering this service, both as a form of grief support while families are planning the funeral and for all guests during the funeral or memorial service itself.

Dogs are incredibly intuitive, so they can often pick up if we are feeling unwell or sad about something, even though they don’t understand the cause of these feelings. Picking up on these signals may change their demeanor, so they’re more likely to be gentle with you and cuddle up with you when they notice your vulnerability.

Dogs provide us with comfort as we cuddle them and stroke them, which can instantly elevate our moods. Children can also use therapy dogs as a way to process their grief. If they don’t feel comfortable talking about their loss with a family member, they might be happier talking to or around a dog in the same way they might talk to their toys during play. As mentioned above, dogs don’t judge, so they can make us feel more at ease when dealing with difficult emotions.

If you’ve had a death in the family and are looking for ways to cope with it, then we’re here to help. We can support you through funeral planning and preplanning. Get in touch for more information.

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