I have always been an animal person. I love their beauty and the love they give to us as humans and companions. That is why, when I heard about Julie Wood, who helps people with pet grief, I was very interested to learn more.
Her role is a hypnotherapist and counsellor specialising in the grief of losing a pet. Losing a pet has a massive effect on our mental well-being, especially when we rely on them so wholeheartedly for their love and support in hard times. They bring us joy and laughter and even love in our loneliest of moments. Knowing the pain of losing a pet first hand, I was very excited to sit down with Julie and hear more about her occupation.
She welcomed me into our interview in the same way she welcomes all her clients, with a warm smile and a soothing voice. I asked Julie what made her think that helping people in the aftermath of the death of a pet was right for her. So she began to delve into her work.
“While I was working in retail, I trained as a hypnotherapist and found out that the loss of a pet was the root of a lot of problems. There’s not enough help for people grieving their pets. So I decided to open a practice. The more I looked into it, the more I realised it was much more widespread than I thought. I became a pet grief counselor.
People who come to talk about their lost pets realize that there are other underlying issues from past trauma. I was surprised at how little was there for grieving a pet.” – says Julie.
Julie’s career evidently comes from a place of enormous compassion for people. She had no personal experience with the loss of pets until after she began her profession. She speaks so tenderly about her clients and really makes you feel safe. Her clients are at the heart of what she does, and she truly strives to help those who come to her.
“My counselling took a new focus on pet grief about two years into my journey. It wasn’t really because of my own experience of pet loss. It was rather my experience with my clients who had lost a pet. One of the questions I ask is, “tell me about the worst times in your life.” It always includes the loss of an animal. I’ve also found that people often feel a huge amount of guilt when they are forced to put their animals down. I felt that was something which needed to be addressed.”
Throughout the global lockdowns, we have seen many studies that showcase animals’ effects on our mental health. These studies offer us support when we feel like there is no one else there for us. They are friends and support networks for us when we need a pick-up. They offer laughs, comfort in times of turmoil, and really who can contend with their cute eyes and fluffy tails.
“The love of an animal is unconditional. We know that we can constantly have love and joy from them. During the lockdown, we have seen a rise in people buying and adopting animals.” – adds Julie.
Interestingly Julie undertook her qualification to train as a hypnotherapist and explains that her reasoning is how she can really learn about her clients’ subconscious and how this can help their healing process as we tend to suppress our trauma very deep.
“In a session, we close the clients’ eyes because it’s comfortable. When you’re relaxed and dealing with the subconscious part of the mind, it is easier for people to talk. So it is quicker and kinder to have fewer sessions and to have it away to go through hard times in their own home. That is now possible.
People often come to ask for help with their children. I encourage them to talk about their loss with their children rather than hiding it from them. Then, when they deal with it with another human, they will be in a better state to deal with it.”
How Julie discusses her clients with respect and professionalism makes it very clear that her work means a lot to her. Knowing she can offer help and support is hugely comforting for fellow animal lovers and me. In addition, she shared information with me about other animal lovers who provide services on those dark dates when our furry friends leave our lives but not our hearts.
“I love my Job! I love being able to help people with their healing and providing them support in these challenging times.
We’ve had a pet crematorium open near us, and they had a bad experience with the loss of their pet, so they’re very empathetic and only cremate one animal at a time. They’re very open and loving and have started to hand out bags with advice cards and pet memorabilia. They also hand deliver the ashes.” – says Julie
Hearing from Julie opened my eyes about the tiny amount of support for people grieving their animals. While volunteering in vets practices during school, I found a great sadness on our part as all we can offer to clients is their sweet memories of their pet, but now with people like Julie offering much more clear support is a very happy sight. She closed our interview with these words of wisdom.
“You should know that it’s okay to grieve for a pet. Everyone grieves in different ways. You may not burst into tears but instead, have these feelings deep down. Guilt is the number one feeling that people discuss. They feel it’s their fault that their animal has died or been put down, and they cannot see them in their last moments. That guilt is natural. It is okay to grieve, and help is out there. Facebook groups are there. I have a YouTube channel that might help instead of full-blown therapy.”
You can read a little bit more about Julie here!