When my sons started their own lives in their early 20s, the house felt empty. For the first time in my life, I experienced loneliness. The glue that held me together (aside from my husband): my Havanese dogs, Calvin and Bo. Whether working in my garden, cooking or running errands, they were my wingmen. Then Calvin (17) suddenly died in November and Bo (15) eight months later after an illness. The void in our home—and in my heart—has been profound, a bit surprising in its scope and scale.
In this week’s podcast, I speak with Dr. Katie Lawlor, a trained trauma psychologist who specializes in pet grief and loss. She wanted to come on the show to talk about the mental health crisis facing vets: a 2019 study shows vet professionals are experiencing the highest rates of suicide among all medical professions. And those numbers were recorded was before the pressures of the pandemic, during which 23 million people adopted pets.
Katie and I discuss the reasons behind the vet crisis, what is being done about it—and if your vet is an important person in your life (it sure was in mine) what you can do about it. And we also talk about the challenges of pet loss.
Katie is the co-founder and director of the Veterinary Mental Health Initiate (VMHI) at the Shanti Project, which is aimed at providing counseling and other mental healthh services for vets and vet techs. For more, click here for the Shanti Project.