Coping with the Grieving Owner
In October I presented at XL Equine’s Autumn veterinary meeting. I was pleased to be invited to talk about “Coping with the Grieving Owner” because dealing with highly distressed people in the normal busy day to day schedule of a practice can be stressful for all the staff involved. The methods I teach are to understand the destabilising effects of grief and how to be aware of these and be led by the need and respond in a calm and compassionate manner. During my presentation I spoke about the importance of taking care of oneself because dealing with those in grief can be stressful and sometimes disturbing. Here are a few tips which I shared:
Whilst your genuine understanding and compassion will make a difference to the owner, never feel you have to fix things, and make things better. Their grief is their journey which they will work through in their own way and their own time.
If you find yourself getting caught up in the emotional turmoil yourself, try to concentrate on the facts and details, as this will help to bring you back to your thinking processes.
Be prepared for any sort of reaction because grief can cause huge disturbance – anger, blame, hysteria. If you expect absolutely anything, it is less shocking.
If you’ve dealt with a particularly disturbing or traumatic situation, do find time afterwards to talk things through with a trusted colleague or friend. You don’t have to carry the emotional load alone. There are Health & Safety rules about how much weight we can carry physically, but what about carrying emotional loads?