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Pandemic brings new light to pet grief counseling: ‘It makes the loss even greater’


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    BOSTON, MA (WBZ) — It’s a service that’s become especially important during the pandemic: pet grief counseling. Kaleel Sakakeeny of Roslindale is an ordained animal chaplain and pet grief counselor, one of few in the country.

In 2019, he founded “Animal Talks,” a local business that aims to help people deal with the loss of a pet.

“They need the company, they need the companionship. So therefore when that ends and they’ve had that comfort for the pandemic, it makes the loss even greater,” said Sakakeeny. “The pandemic is a grief. We are experiencing a profound grief period, it’s about loss, the loss of so many different things.”

He addressed the misconceptions about losing a pet, especially when it comes to the toll it can have on the pet owner.

“I’m helping people become aware of its legitimacy. It’s reality. And it’s effect on people emotionally, psychologically, physically, it changes their lives completely,” said Sakakeeny.

It’s where Charlene Arsenault and Maura Stevens of Worcester turned after losing their dog, Ebbie.

“He talked me through it and gave us some coping mechanisms and just strategies to try to deal with the overwhelming grief that hits you when you least expect it,” said Arsenault.

Kaleel started his business after experiencing a pet loss of his own and realizing there were few resources available to help him with his grief. Now, he’s hoping to be that source of help for others.

“If I was feeling pain and didn’t know where to turn, then I imagined without too much effort other people that were feeling a profound loss had no place to turn, and they needed somebody. Some place to go,” said Sakakeeny.

“I think that the understanding is growing because of people like Kaleel. He’s bringing attention to it,” said Arsenault.

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