Last year author Karen Litzinger turned her grief at the loss of her two dogs into an award-winning CD and network of resources.
Now, after completing a specialized training course through the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB) in May, Karen, already a Licensed Professional Counselor, also offers a unique counseling service specifically for pet bereavement through Heal from Pet Loss.
“I’m excited to move in this direction following producing the Heal Your Heart CD,” Karen says. “In addition to helping people with the depth of their loss at a delicate time, it will help me continue to help others by hearing stories of pet loss grief.”
She completed an internship with the APLB as an online chat room counselor supervised by a psychologist in order to renew her certification with the American Academy of Bereavement as a Certified Bereavement Facilitator. The APLB is the leading major organization in the United States that offers multiple opportunities for pet owners to seek support, like the chat room service founded in 1998.
Karen is the only pet loss counselor in the Western Pennsylvania region to complete the specialized instruction and receive the APLB Certificate of Training and is one of only four counselors in Pennsylvania with this training. The APLB, founded in 1997, is the only major organization in the United States that offers a pet loss and bereavement training program operated by a clinical psychologist.
A widening circle of people are finding their pets are increasingly important to family life, and are no longer viewed as “just the dog or cat”, but rather as a member of the family. This makes pet loss more difficult, but the associated grief more accepted. Still, many people don’t understand the depth of grief, and support can be hard to come by. Karen’s pet bereavement counseling practice aims to help the healing process for individuals and families.
Karen started her career over 20 years ago, and founded Litzinger Career Consulting in 2002. She decided to expand her practice following the production of her recently released Heal Your Heart: Coping with the Loss of a Pet, a CD and accompanying booklet insert designed to guide pet owners through the process of grieving their deceased pet.
Heal Your Heart wins two book awards
In addition, Heal Your Heart recently won the 2010 Pinnacle Award for Best Book in the Category of Animals and Pets in April, as well as the 2010 National Indie Excellence Award for Audio Book Non-Fiction in May.
Following the death of her two dogs within four months of each other, Karen was inspired to create the CD to assist others on the pet loss journey through healing affirmations and practical strategies. She has initiated a non-denominational animal blessing service for a local church and has conducted memorial services as well as working with local shelters in organizing events, such as Pet Parents’ Day for WPHS. Karen has also been a guest on local and national pet-oriented radio talk shows.
More information on counseling services and the CD including reviews and excerpts as well as further resources for healing from pet loss can be found at www.HealFromPetLoss.com.
In addition, I had the honor and opportunity to illustrate the Heal Your Heart CD and Karen and I became friends through this project. I listened to the CD repeatedly in order to adequately illustrate its content, and I can attest to its effectiveness as I was losing my Namir at that time.
I’ve written about Karen and her CD numerous times on The Creative Cat, so please browse these articles:
Karen Litzinger, author of the CD/guidebook Heal Your Heart: Coping With the Loss of a Pet, will be the featured guest this Thursday for the nationally streamed radio show, Pittsburgh’s Talkin Pets on KQV AM 1410.
Heal Your Heart features Karen, a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Certified Bereavement Facilitator, reading comforting messages, pet-focused affirmations, and even a guided meditation along with comforting accompanying harp music. The booklet provides supportive suggestions, information explaining the stages of grief and resources such as books and hotlines to assist the grieving person.
In addition to introducing the audience to her CD and discussing how she authored and produced it, Karen will discuss pet loss in general with the hosts. This will be her first appearance, but she will be a featured guest in the future as well.
The weekly radio show covers many topics and is hosted by Nan Cohen of KQV and Carol Boerino-Croft of Cozy Inn Pet Resort and Orchid Spa. Pittsburgh’s Talkin Pets is at 8:00 PM (usually 8:30, and the station website still reflects this) and is scheduled for rebroadcast on Saturday at 3:30 PM. You can listen to the audio stream from any location at www.kqv.com.
Heal Your Heart was recently reviewed by the prestigious Spirituality and Health Magazine, March-April issue.
Also, in April, Heal From Pet Loss is teaming up with Color Me Mine paint your own pottery studio in Squirrel Hill to host a creative fundraiser for the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society in recognition of National Pet Parents Day, hosting a painting party on Sunday, April 25.
Karen will also be a featured speaker at the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement Conference in May. She will be delivering a Guilt and Pet Loss Overview, as she describes:
Guilt is often a natural part of the grieving process. Because of our role as caretaker to a dependent animal, guilt can be even more significant in pet loss than with other losses. Whether we have made real or perceived mistakes, many of us can become stuck in an unforgiving grip of guilt. By understanding the nature of guilt we will be on our way to take back control of our thoughts, feelings and lives. This session will also review multiple strategies to combat guilt, whether for yourself or for people you assist, and will invite strategies from participants. We will take an in-depth look at how to use cognitive psychology principles to examine and reframe negative self-talk as a strategy to overcome guilt, including a hands-on exercise.
I had the honor of illustrating this CD, and I can attest to its effectiveness, and also to Karen’s comforting and gentle nature, and it’s my pleasure to promote Karen and her CD whenever I can. I’ve written about her on this blog in Heal Your Heart: Coping With the Loss of a Pet covering the content and creation of the CD, and in Heal Your Heart After Pet Loss, a Remarkable CD and Guidebook covering the more personal aspects of Karen’s journey from the loss of first one dog and then another, turning her experience into a creative effort.
For extra interest, check out Cozy Inn’s Zen approach to pet care at www.cozyinnpetresort.com.
Sixth in a series of “pet loss and grief told from personal experience”
If you’ve lost your pet, if the loss is imminent or if your pet has been diagnosed with a terminal condition or you know someone in that position, don’t feel you are alone or that no one cares. As our relationships with our companion animals have become more widely accepted as valid, loving, reciprocal relationships, grieving the loss of your pet has become more widely accepted and even encouraged.
This is not an exhaustive list of possibilities—because there are so many other lists of pet loss information I’ve provided links to main sites and other lists, and focused on the theme of first-person pet loss and and how that loss changed lives and turned into a creative effort.
For as much as is available on the internet today, there’s nothing like communicating in person. Sometimes a regular meeting with a local support group can be the most welcome respite from your grief, especially if you begin before you lose your pet because you can learn from the group’s members what to expect, and they’ll understand how you feel when your pet’s time comes. Find a group with whom you can share your fears and feelings, talk about your pets and plan and attend ceremonies.
You’ll find your local animal shelters often offer pet loss support groups as one of their services. Pet-related businesses also sometimes offer support groups or host events honoring our companion animals as do many religious organizations.
Internet Discussion Groups
Moving to the internet, you can find discussion groups for pet loss in general, and discussion groups for every possible condition your pet could have, often species and even breed-specific. These groups are usually moderated by one or a group of persons and send out a digest of entries each day, and are ideal if your pet is ill or has been diagnosed with a disease because you can share your experiences and information with others dealing with the same condition. The ASPCA has a number of discussion groups including one for pet memorials. You can also check Yahoo groups and Google groups for information.