Virtual Death Cafes for Pet Lovers
Virtual Event Dates - All from 7:00 to 8:30 pm
September 17, 2020 & October 8, 2020
An HHA Death Café for Pet Lovers builds on the international social movement of Death Cafes. Originated in the UK in 2010, the goal of a Death Café is to encourage conversation about the one reality we all share but a topic few wish to talk about. Home Hospice Association joined this movement in 2016. It holds one of the most significant community outreach positions for our chapters as it is a way in which we can move towards our mortality. Demystifying death gives us the greatest chance to ensure those reaching the end of life may live out their last days in the manner of their choosing, including making the choice of where they wish to die. Talking about our experiences and feelings related to the illness and loss of a beloved pet can be a great way to start the conversation about our own dying and death.
At one of our HHA Death Cafés a participant asked of her table what their opinion was in relation to grieving the loss of a pet vs grieving the loss of a human loved one. The reaction around the table can be summed up with one word: judgement. This person was not welcomed to share her feelings, and it was visible to the table’s Co-Facilitator that she then “checked out” of the conversation completely. This experience became the catalyst for creating a Death Café specifically to welcome those who feel pets are part of the family to join the conversation.
To create and facilitate a death café specifically for those who understand what it would feel like to receive the same judgmental experience was the catalyst for developing the Death Café for Pet Lovers. Approximately 13,209,754 people in Canada have dogs, and 14,342,018 have cats - that’s plenty of people who are going to experience pet loss one day. We wish to bring together (virtually during this time of COVID) the pet lover population so that the topic of pet death, and its “validity” can be discussed, acknowledged, and normalized through encouraging open discourse and examination.
For many people, pets are considered as an integral part of their family, and their relationship with their pet is different than with their human family. As pets are a big part of their daily life and routine, providing both physical and emotional interactions, some people may feel closer to their pets than to human members of their family. However, people often feel hesitant or embarrassed to discuss their feelings about their pet’s illness or death with others who may not recognize or acknowledge the depth of the human-pet bond.