We consider our pets part of the family, but resources for grieving a beloved pet are limited. Kaleel Sakakeeny began supporting pet parents through the grieving process after the loss of his beloved feline soul mate, Kyro. “Kyro lit up my days and when he died, the light went out of my life,” Kaleel says. “It changed me forever.” He realized there were few bereavement resources available — especially where the despair and pain of losing a pet was taken seriously.
Kaleel is now certified as a pet loss and grief counselor, as well as an ordained minister and loss and bereavement facilitator. He doesn’t consider himself an “expert” in the way a mental health professional might. The mourners are the experts in their own pain and loss. Kaleel says one of the most important tools is listening. He also encourages physical approaches like drawing, journaling, meditating and blessings.
He leads a popular monthly support and discussion group, “Animal Talks,” and is invited to lead “help and healing groups,” including those at Angell Animal Hospital-MSPCA in Boston. He hopes to extend his outreach to schools to help children who have experienced pet loss, as well as online seminars. “I know without a doubt that this is what Kyro wanted for me,” he says. “This is the path his love guided me to.”
Follow Kaleel and his work on Facebook @petgriefhelpandcounseling, petministryboston.com or email him at kaleel@the othermecoaching.com.