Emotional Support Dogs: Helping Grieving Families In The Funeral Home
“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.” – Thom Jones
Emotional Support Dogs: Helping Grieving Families in the Funeral Home
Many animals are intuitive to energy. It is said that dogs are excellent judges of character and have an innate ability to pick up on emotions. When I’m having a bad day, or I’m visibly sad, my dogs pick up on my emotions and invariably comfort me. They intrinsically know I need positive attention and, before I know it, they are nuzzled up next to me.
With emotional support dogs becoming more acceptable in society, it only makes sense that funeral homes are embracing emotional support dogs’ unique gifts.
They Comfort Us
According to wagwalking.com, a recent study published in the Animal Cognition Journal found that dogs are more likely to approach a person who is crying than a person who is exhibiting happier behaviors. Dogs react to human crying as they would react to another dog’s wimpers. The pack mentality of dogs allows them to empathize with “family” members. Furthermore, research indicates that petting a dog decreases anxiety and releases feel good chemicals in the brain like oxytocin. Children, in particular, benefit from emotional support dogs. Therapy dogs provide comfort and a means to purge difficult and confusing emotions. Kids feel safe talking to dogs because their love is unconditional and non-judgemental.
They Lift Our Moods
Dogs can’t help but make us smile. Their wagging tales, adorable faces, and soft fur can cut the tension in any room. Their presence brings us back to the present moment and helps us step away from our grief if only momentarily. By receiving an emotional “reprieve” and being brought back to the present moment, families can more easily focus on the funeral planning at hand.
They Are First Responders
After 26 people were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, therapy dogs were utilized. Support dogs were also used after the shooting at Virginia Tech in 2007, and in Parkland, Florida last year. Whether it is adults or children, therapy dogs provide relief for people who have experienced trauma like the unexpected loss of a loved one. Research suggests that besides curbing symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, support dogs may also reduce blood pressure.
The Gift of a Support Dog
Even without scientific evidence, most dog owners can attest to the emotional benefits that dogs provide. It can only help to have an emotional support dog available for grieving clients. Of course, not all mourners are dog lovers, and some will decline the service; however, for those who appreciate these dogs’ gifts, the presence of an emotional support dog is needed and immensely valuable.
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