WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Liza Linder, MSW LCSW
I am an animal parent. Yes, you read that correctly. I am stating that my animal companions have always been my children. If, my statement rings at all true for you too, you will want and need to hear this. As we animal parents all know, we will outlive our children. For so many people, myself included, this loss is every bit as painful as any parent losing a human child. As if the grief and loss you will or are experiencing, isn’t enough, our grief is compounded by so many people in our lives who just “don’t get it”. There is very little sympathy and even less support available to those of us who are in deep grief. About a year after my son passed away, I was still really struggling with such incredible grief, and I had a tremendous need to talk about my grief and to encounter others who would “get it”. I honestly didn’t even think that was possible. But, then I stumbled upon a Facebook group called Paws to Celebrate. This is a support group for people who have a terminally ill animal, or an animal that’s passed away. The founder of this group is an absolutely wonderful professional animal loss counselor, named Pam Barron Kaplan. Believe me when I say that Pam absolutely “gets it”. In addition to being an animal parent, I’m also a licensed therapist for 25 years now. That’s important to note, because obviously I have a lot of experience with other therapists and counselors. I can tell you from experience, that Pam truly has “the gift”, which unfortunately cannot be taught. Pam is an incredible counselor. She is amazingly selfless with her time and her gift. Pam is patient, kind, non-judgmental, and most importantly, incredibly understanding of the pain you are feeling. Pam will work with you, no matter how long ago your loss (or losses) occurred. I’ve had a few sessions with Pam, on a few of my darkest days, and her help has been absolutely invaluable. Pam is also an accomplished author, having written the book “Tails of Unconditional Love”, which leapt up the charts on Amazon in just a couple of days. If you are the parent of a terminally ill animal, or an animal that’s passed away, and you are not finding the sympathy and support you need from friends, family, or even your therapist, please reach out to Pam. As a licensed therapist, I can assure you that Pam can help. Please do not suffer in silence or try to manage your grief and loss alone. Please reach out to Pam and get the understanding and support you need, and you deserve.
If you're seeking a caring, supportive, knowledgeable person to help you through your grief, please consider Pam Baren Kaplan.
On April 25, 2019, our sweet 11-year-old Chocolate Lab, Chewy boy, gained his Angel Wings, when my husband and I were over 2,000 miles away from home.
When we left for vacation on April 20, I had no idea that I’d never hug him, hear his bark or giggle from his multiple sloppy kisses ever again. I was so devastated by his passing, even though Chewy was under the loving care of our son and grandchildren.
Shortly after our return home in early May, I started looking for Facebook support groups to help me through this deep grief - a type of grief that I had never experienced. Mind you, loss was no stranger to me. I had lost beloved pets throughout my life, lost both of my parents and, as an RN, grieved for patients and with their families.
I stumbled across Pam’s group, Paws to Celebrate Pet Loss, requested to join and was thankfully approved. I’ve found comfort in posting and receiving support from Pam, her admins and fellow group members. I also benefited immensely rom Pam’s book, Tails of Unconditional Love.
I’ve received such wise advice from Pam over the past year, She offered to me, and those in our group, a complimentary phone support session. Pam also frequently checked in with me. Aside from getting Pam’s book, the most healing thing for me was scheduling my phone session. I found Pam to be genuinely concerned about me. She offered her time freely and with absolutely no strings attached. Her calming voice, wise words and genuine concern were so comforting and refreshing, and I benefited so much from that call.
To say that I'm thankful for Pam and what she does is an understatement. I'm forever grateful to have found her!
I like you have lost a best friend. In my case, many best friends. The grief was overwhelming because there was nothing that could bring them back and I would dream about the “good old days” when we did all those wonderful things. I had one dog in particular that passed away twelve years ago. The good times were over and I commenced upon a depression unlike any I could have known. In fact, I did not know I was there.
Every night I would say to myself, “Hello darkness my old friend,” the pain would begin that I would mask with liquor. Then I would do it all over again the next day and so on. A close friend recognized my pain and referred me to Pam. At first, I was not inclined to go through with it because needing help was viewed as a weakness in my family. After my first session with Pam I was finally convinced I was too far gone and no one not even Sigmund Freud could help me because Reilly was gone and he could never be replaced.
The sessions were brutal. I did not want to go where Pam was taking me. I just wanted to drink and feel sorry for myself. The turning point came when Pam demanded that I write a letter from Reilly to me, which I was afraid to do. Now I was going through a process of change. I began to remember all the great times I had with all my dogs, not just Reilly. The memories were grand, the tears turned to smiles and I was telling everyone my boring stories of all my great dogs, including the great dog that I now share my life.
I have come to realize that having a dog is a hard bargain because their lives are by nature very short compared to ours. I did not miss a beat with Reilly or any of my dogs because I was with them every single day enjoying life – no regrets. Now it is time to enjoy my life with Spencer and maybe another pup. “Darkness is no longer my friend. Thank you Pam for leading me out of that long dark circular corridor to the light.
Pam is an extraordinary teacher and counselor, as well as a great human being. I have used her counseling services for pet loss grief recovery issues and found her of great value. Later, she volunteered her services to assist Travels With Sam, a newly established pet loss grief recovery program sponsored by the All God’s Creatures animal ministry of Iona-Hope Episcopal Church in Fort Myers, FL.
For our first year, she conducted the program once a month by way of a Skype Internet connection from her office in Illinois. She consistently received rave reviews from the meeting participants. I can only speak highly of Pam, both as a professional and as a friend. She will quickly become both once you meet her.
Pam offers high end professional business and corporate counseling services for the entire span of career lifecycle. What differentiates her from other services is how she structures the sessions into goal-oriented blocks of time during which she will work with you to accomplish short term goals, work towards larger goals, and to keep perspective on progress you have already made. This combination of goals, accountability, feedback, and outcomes-directed counseling lets you put challenges and triumphs into proper context: you are able to approach things from an empowered standpoint!
She has been instrumental during my career to help me navigate tricky corporate environments and challenging consulting firms. Throughout we have kept the focus on the positive: how do my skills help me find solutions to challenges and replicate the conditions for success. Being accountable and having concrete goals has also let me keep track of our micro and macro progress: the result is more confidence, less stress, and over-arching positivity which I then apply to unpredictable work situations with great success! The sessions just fly on by and are always a wonderful, pleasant time! Pam helps you find your own solution and your individualized path to peace of mind and success.