A woman and man petting a grief therapy dog.

 

Written by Lexie Graf

 

Therapy dogs can help people who have lost a loved one cope with their feelings of grief. Therapy dogs comfort, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve one’s mood.

 

Many funeral homes are beginning to have grief therapy dogs available for grieving families. Below are some real-life stories of people who have had therapy dogs help them feel better after experiencing loss.

 

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Sandy Hook Shooting Survivors

The Sandy Hook shooting was difficult to process — especially for the children who witnessed the tragedy. To comfort the students, Tim Hetzner, leader of the Lutheran Church Charities (LCC) K9 Comfort Dogs team brought nine therapy-trained golden retrievers to Newtown, Connecticut.

 

The team found that some of the children who hadn’t spoken about the shooting began to open up when the dogs were present. One little boy even talked directly to one of the therapy dogs about what happened.

 

The K9 teams were careful to let the survivors be the ones to approach the dogs. They went to various locations around the town and were met with positive responses.

 

9/11 Ceremony

Sometimes just the presence of a dog can lighten the mood. When Anna Favuzza went to the 9/11 Memorial & Museum to honor her brother who died during the terrorist attacks, she was greeted by a labradoodle named Copeland. She found petting him to be comforting for her.

 

In total, 17 therapy dogs were present at the 9/11 ceremony. Visitors appreciated the comfort the dogs offered.

 

Las Vegas Shooting Reunion

Survivors, first responders, and families of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting gathered at Centennial Hills Park to honor the lives lost on that horrific day. This reunion was an emotional time for everyone who attended.

 

Along with live music, food, and counselor support, therapy dogs were available for attendees. Many of the survivors felt this event helped them heal from the tragedy. It was a reminder that they aren’t dealing with the trauma alone.

 

Kermit the Comforter

Ever since Kermit was a puppy, his owner noticed that he had an unusually calm temperament. She decided to channel his laid-back energy by training him to be a therapy dog.

 

One day when Kermit was visiting the Affordable Burial and Cremation Service, he went straight towards a family meeting with owner Robert Falcon. He placed his head right on the grieving widow’s lap. For a moment, she was able to stop crying and proceed with planning her late husband’s funeral.

 

Robert noticed that whenever Kermit was around he paid the most attention to the “primary griever.” Though he is a fun-loving dog at home, he knows how to be on duty while at funerals.

 

Do you have a therapy dog at your funeral home? Share your experiences with a therapy dog below!