The unimaginable tragedy of losing a child must be the most profound grief on the planet. Parents who lost children in the Newtown, Conn., Sandy Hook Elementary School attack know this. In addition, the children who survived were traumatized as well. Experts suggest that being so young, the children exposed to the events of December 14 are more resilient than older kids or adults.
People grieve differently and find comfort in different ways. It’s been demonstrated that pets can help. Obviously, they are non-judgmental, and some seem to know just when and how to help.
After 9/11, first responders sought out search and rescue dogs simply to hug them. Soon, “comfort dogs” appeared where families gathered. Many said this seem to offer a sense of well-being and security, especially for the children, but also for adults.
This role isn’t limited to dogs, cats can also make a difference. It seems purr machines do relax people, and adorable kittens can often elicit smiles. Kitten Associates, Inc., a small home foster cat rescue group in Newton, Conn., is offering kitten playtime as a form of therapy for local children. Play sessions will last 30 minutes, and each visiting child will receive a plush kitten. If you live in the area, and are interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org.