Losing a pet can be as devastating as losing a family member, and dealing with the grief soon after can be frustrating.
Adina Silberstein, who founded Queenie’s Pets in Mt. Airy, began organizing a support group for those grieving over lost pets with the hopes of helping people find closure after a major loss in their life.
“Whoever comes, we meet their particular needs during that group,” Silberstein said. “Sometimes we’ll steer the conversation, so they have a topic. A common thing is, ‘ is it time for euthanasia?’ People are trying to make that decision and get over guilt.”
Silberstein dealt with the loss of her own cat, Moxie, and was met with comments suggesting a pet is more replaceable than a family member, that she could move on quickly and adopt a new animal. She said such comments invalidated her feelings and inspired her to find alternative ways of dealing with the loss.
While other support groups exist in Pennsylvania, Queenie’s is currently the only group offered outside of a veterinary or clinical environment in Philadelphia. Silberstein’s experience with grief counselors while mourning the loss of Moxie was bittersweet, she said, as she had to revisit the clinical office environment where her cat was euthanized.
To provide a healthy environment for the support groups at her Mt. Airy location, Silberstein brought in conversation facilitators to give the participants direction and professional feedback.
“We [as facilitators] do engage and share experiences as much as we think it would help, but the group is really for the people that are coming,” group facilitator Amy Defibaugh said. “It’s just about making sure no one monopolizes the time and, in case of severe breakdowns, offering support.”
The group currently meets once monthly. Silberstein said if there seems to be a greater need for more meetings, she’ll consider holding them more frequently.
“What sets us apart is that we’re 100 percent committed to positive reinforcement and viewing the animal as a full being and a whole member of a family,” Silberstein said.
The meetings are held the third Thursday of every month at Queenie’s Pets at 7174 Germantown Ave.