Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Veterinarians Coping with Grief by Mariam Earley

To be a veterinarian, you have to acquire a sense of stubborn hope, so that in the dark years, you can recover and heal and still never give up. Before I became what I am destined to be, I had to learn about myself. My first and not last C.E.T. was based on the suicide rate in the veterinary field, which reveals at a scary 30%. Three vets have committed suicide in this year of 2017, and it lead to the C.E.T. and the lessons I learned about myself.  
            There is nothing more heart breaking when a pet dies; it effects the client and the veterinary team. I’ll never forget when our clinic cat died of cancer; every client that knew her came to the clinic to pay their respect and some of us still feel the loss of Tallulah, but that’s just one of the many challenges in the vet life. We have to deal with death, which is uncomfortable for most people, and you’ll never really here them talk about it.  Yet that’s not all that can get a vet to go crazy; one of the other things are the clients themselves. I have those clients that love their animals so much that they won’t let go even if they are in immense pain. Blackie, for example, was the sweetest dog on three feet and this dog suffered. He had bone cancer which took one of his legs and went into the other leg which we couldn’t take off. Every Saturday at 11:00am Blackie would come in for a new cast, we would decorate it with different gauze colors and cut out designs for him, but as the weeks turn to months and months turned to years Blackie’s leg got painful and swollen with hair loss. My doctor wanted euthanasia, but the owner was like ‘nope, just change the bandage and let us be on our way, oh and can we get some pain killers?’ It made every one of us mad and mournful; we loved Blackie,  but we didn’t want him to suffer. He couldn’t even walk; the owner practically carried him to and from the car- I’ve never seen that dog walk, and that was only the beginning.

            The stubborn hope is necessary for this field because we will go through grief and longings that may never be. I still grieve for many pets that I’ve seen go, and it is hard because grief can last for years before you start to heal. So my advice is if you want to pull through cry, talk, share, and know. Crying helps to get rid of toxins in the brain when you’ve gone through negative emotions. Talking helps to relieve stress and helps to get bonded to the team, which also goes to sharing the sad days, the busy days, the many stressful days to come. So then finally, know that you are not alone, you have a team that feels like you do when something tragic in that clinic happens and always have hope for the better.

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