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New Grief Intervention Research Study


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This message comes to us from Karolijne van der Houwen, Principal Investigator for this study:

The Centre for Bereavement Research and Intervention at Utrecht University, The Netherlands, is currently inviting people to participate in an international study into the efficacy of a new grief intervention. This intervention consists of five different homework assignments that are sent to participants by e-mail. Assignments will take on average 30 minutes to complete.

You are cordially invited to participate in this study if you meet the following inclusion criteria:

1. age 18 years or older

2. native English speaker

3. having experienced the death of a partner, parent, child or sibling and being significantly distressed by this

4. access to computer and Internet facilities

5. in possession of a valid e-mail address

Please visit our website - www.bereavementresearch.com - for more information and to register for this study.

Thank you for taking the time to read this message.

The research team,

Jan van den Bout, Professor of Psychology

Wolfgang Stroebe, Professor of Psychology

Margaret Stroebe-Harrold, Associate Professor of Psychology

Henk Schut, Assistant Professor of Psychology

Karolijne van der Houwen, PhD candidate

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I have to say something about this. Karolijne had contacted me personally about their newer study this last week ( as I'd inquired into their last one ). I might have been interested in participating in this new one, but I found out I don't qualify, as ( what else is new? ) pet loss, even if you regarded your animal companion as a full-fledged family member for yourself, is not included in the types of loss. I sat there staring at the "loss of a child" criteria, thinking, "But this IS my loss!!" But when I inquired, no, it didn't qualify.

I realize that's just this study, but it just struck me as the same-old, same-old disenfranchization that's perennially there, with none of these researchers either aware of &/or interested in addressing it as JUST as important, nor of helping those in the field to overcome this species bias. How LONG do we animal lovers have to wait to be included in normal grief in society? I fear I'll be dead myself before that actually happens. This was especially disappointing because I often consider Europe to be so far ahead of North America in so many ways...yet we're even forgotten there. I believe any major societal shift about this is going to HAVE to come from within the professional fields dealing with bereavement, yet I've never even SEEN a study dealing with this loss to date. So I'm grumbling about this, but think I have every right to. It's not fair and it's not right. So much for psychology keeping up with the times....

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Dear Maylissa and STARKISS

I would like to respond to your remarks. I'm very sorry you are not able to participate in the study we are conducting right now. The reason for this is that we have based our grief intervention on available knowledge into the area of bereavement. Unfortunately, at this moment we don't know very much about pet loss yet (so we don't know if our intervention is suitable for people who are mourning the loss of a pet). It is however something we are very interested in learning more about. In fact we just finished two studies into pet bereavement. Hopefully these and other studies will help us design interventions for people who have lost a beloved animal in the future.

With very best wishes,

Karolijne van der Houwen

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Thanks for your reply here. That was very kind of you. I wish I'd been asked to participate in your pet loss study, though! ;) As a general comment, if researchers want to know what this loss is like....for many, many of us...it's VERY similar to child loss. Child loss books were the only ones that really resonated for me when we lost our first furbaby 6.5 years ago, and I still find the way parents feel are most similar to how I feel, too....except in some cases, like mine, there are even MORE losses to grieve as well, since animals can fill even more roles ( and hence, OUR roles with them can be more extensive, too ) than human children do. So I believe pet loss can be even harder and more complicated than most other types of loss. If this were studied more, I think it could even become a sort of 'template' for all loss, given its wide range of complicating factors. Another good 'source' for finding out what it's all about and how we grievers REALLY feel about losing our animals might be all the dedicated pet loss discussion forums on the Web, the best ( free ) one being lightning-strike.com.

I AM happy to see at least someone is taking an interest in this terribly disenfranchised type of loss. We, the animal companion grievers, deserve MUCH more than what is currently available.

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Hi Karolijne,

I am sorry but I think you got the wrong impression about what I was saying.. I was not looking into the pet loss survey or information I just meant that I am not in the beginning stages of grief.. It has been over a year for both my parents now... I lost Mom in April 2005 and Dad in August of 2005.. I hope one day I will be able to assist but for now Take care Shelley

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