The diagnosis of a terminal illness, or loss, of a beloved animal companion is difficult and often overwhelming. We are here to offer a safe and confidential environment for you to share your story and connect with others who understand your grief and loss. 

A companion animal plays a very important role in our lives. Companion animals are viewed as children, siblings, confidants, support systems and friends. When we have received news that they have a terminal illness or when we lose our companion animal it can affect us much in the same way as losing a human. We feel the same grief reactions and the grieving process can be much the same for a human or companion animal. Grieving is a normal and unavoidable reactions to a loss but it is also a reaction that is very often misunderstood, if not minimized by others. It is a normal psychological response that requires expression and acknowledgement. This group offers comfort for all grieving animal lovers.

How Does The Group Work?

The group meets on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Insight. Facilitated by a licensed psychotherapist with a special interest in the human-animal bond, these group sessions are free, open, and no registration is required..

Donations are welcome, which are donated to local animal shelters and used for the facilitation of the group. The meetings take on an open format where the participants can bring their current needs to the group. The group will discuss grief and loss as it pertains to the needs of each individual group. Additional discussions involve grief reactions, resources, ways to express emotions related to the grieving process, and offer supportive ideas to one another.

The support group reaches welcomes adults (15 and older may attend with an adult) who have been affected by the loss of a companion animal or is caring for a terminally ill pet. This group offers friendship, hope, and an understanding that every person, each with their own precious memories of the beloved companion, grieves in their own unique way. Primarily, this group is a safe place where thoughts and feelings can be freely expressed, though no one is compelled to do so.

Meet The Facilitator

Rebel Gustafson, MSW, LICSW earned her Master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Minnesota Duluth and has been a practicing licensed psychotherapist for over 20 years. Rebel understands that when people are faced with very difficult decisions for their pets it can be unbearable at times. Understanding that pets hold a different role in each person’s life, Rebel hopes to be a support to those in need. Rebel has a few companion animals of her own: 1 dog and 2 cats. Rebel also provides individual psychotherapy for your distress of caring for a pet at the end of their life or if you beloved pet has died. This is billable through your health insurance.