Healing Pet Grief

Although I can never know exactly how you feel, if you are grieving deeply after the loss of a beloved animal, I can relate to your pain. I have always lived with and loved animals and consider them family members.

I grew up with Ginger, a wonderful dog who lived with my family from when I was five years old to after I left for college. And I’ve lived with animals ever since. The first pet I had on my own was a cat named Flakey (because her fur looked like snowflakes). She was the most constant thing in my life throughout my twenties and thirties. She loved to be on me, which meant sleeping on my lap, hanging out around my neck like a scarf, or sleeping under the blankets curled up against my belly. At the age of sixteen, she graciously let my husband join us and then, later, my first child. 

It was a while ago, but I can still feel her soft fur around my neck and the warmth of her body under the covers. She taught me what it meant to care for another being and I loved her so much. About 3 years after her death, I adopted Kiva, a German Shepherd who helped me raise my family. Here is our story. And the last animal I loved and lost was Javier, my precious beloved cat. Now I live with a sweet and gentle dog housemate named Sasha (and her human mom) where I get to have all the joy and connection of a wonderful dog without any of the responsibility.  

I have had many personal experiences with loss, which enriches my ability to understand what my clients are going through. As well as losing my animal best friends, I lost my father when I was a teenager, my husband when I was a new mother, and, as I’ve gotten older, loss seems to come with the territory. So I am no stranger to grief. Or to the fact that no matter how intense the pain, it is likely to change and soften slowly over time as long as we acknowledge it and deal with our grief in healthy ways . Although it may not seem possible, there is life after grief.

Before I became a pet loss counselor, much of my work involved helping people cope with and adjust to loss. I was a geriatric social worker for many years and, after that, a life and stress management coach for people with disabilities. I’m also a fused glass artist and sold keepsake boxes with pet themes at Petpalooza, a fair for people and their pets. Many people who looked at the keepsake boxes told me stories about their pets who had died. A common theme was the lack of support they felt from co-workers, friends, and even therapists. My heart went out to all of them. Like serendipity, all the events in my life – those conversations with pet parents, my past work with loss, my own grief journey, my love of animals – led me to this place of being able to help and support people with broken hearts after the death of their pets.

Education and Training

BA, Human Services, Western Washington University

MSW (Master of Social Work), University of Washington

Certified Life Coach, Baraka Institute

Certified Pet Loss Counselor, Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement

If you are in pain and in need of understanding and support, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Healing Pet Grief
Mimi Handlin, MSW - Pet Grief Counseling Seattle

As a long time social worker, certified pet loss counselor with the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement, and one who has experienced many losses of both people and animals, I would love to help. Please contact me for more information.

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