End-of-Life Spiritual Support
for Pets and Their People
by Dr. Terri Daniel
Interfaith Hospice Chaplain | Certified Trauma Specialist
Illustration by Cynthia Rylant from the book Cat Heaven
If your beloved animal companion is facing a life-threatening medical diagnosis,
or if you've recently experienced the unexpected death of a non-human family member,
I can provide a wide range of compassionate, supportive spiritual care services, including:
. Assistance with end-of-life decisions
. Transition guidance for the animal spirit
. Rituals and ceremonies
. Bereavement counseling
I will come to your home, your vet's office or the sacred place of your choice
to assist with animal transitions, bereavement and beyond.
. Travel by arrangement
. Phone consultations available
Endorsements From Pet Families and Professionals
"I appreciate the opportunity to talk about what a great support Terri was to me when I realized it was time to let go of my beautiful dog (Aussie-Lab) Spirit. She was only 12 but her hips and knees caused her so much pain, and one day she just couldn't get up any more and she let me know it was time to leave. I called Terri and she came right over. We cried together and held Spirit, and I talked about our life together. When I felt ready, Terri went with me to the vet. We all lay on the floor, stroking Spirit and talking to her when the vet came in and gave her a shot to relax her. When the vet came back a few minutes later I was holding Spirit, Terri was holding me, and the vet gave her the final shot and listened to her heart until it stopped beating. After we left the vet's office, Terri and I drove to a park along the river where Spirit loved to play in the water. As we stood there, a little bird landed on a rock in the middle of the current... just where Spirit would have plopped down to enjoy the water rushing past her body. Terri did a little ritual sending her spirit off when the bird suddenly leaped into the air and flew up, up and away, and I knew Spirit was happy to be free and I'd see her on the other side. I'd recommend Terri to anyone who is about to lose a pet. She is a great comforting presence at times like these."
Diane Goble, Sisters, OR.
"My name is Ken Prather and I facilitate the only pet loss support group in Northern, Indiana. I'm also a bereavement counselor for three wildlife refuges that rescue domestic and exotic animals. I would like to take the opportunity to install my feeling of gratitude for everything that Terri Daniel is doing to achieve a more serene crossing over for our animal friends and those mourning their passing. Her passion and love for animals is second to none. Terri's spirituality has taken her to a plane where she can relate to the animals and those mourning the animals on a one-to-one basis. Her presence brings comfort to the soul and a peace of mind that enables all involved to concentrate totally on sharing love."
Ken Prather, Ft. Wayne, IN
"Terri was a huge help to me when my 22 year-old cat Sara was dying. Sara was very old and very sick, and I believed that because she was still eating (even though she vomited daily), that she still had quality of life and wanted to live. It took me months to acknowledge how much she was suffering, and I also had to face the fact that my desire to keep her with me was for my benefit rather than hers. Terri was available by phone and email through the whole process (I live in Los Angeles and Terri is in Portland). She shared information with me about the dying and grieving process, but never pressured me or led me in one direction or another. Instead, she simply listened to my feelings until I was ready to make the decision to euthanize Sara."
Lori Shocket MD, Calabassas, CA.
"Lucy was my feline companion for 16 years. I loved how she kept herself to herself but still gave her whole heart to me, in her uniquely "Lucy" way. When she perched on my chest and gazed into my eyes, it seemed as though I was looking past her, through her, into time and space; as though I could hear the music of the spheres; as though all was harmony, all was grace.
Terri Daniel helped me journey alongside Lucy with a little of the grace that Lucy so generously shared with me. Terri listened to me and created a safe space for me to cry, and enter in to the inevitable, and ultimatley healing, grief. She treated Lucy with the respect and tenderness she deserved. We talked about the rituals that might matter to Lucy and me, and we created them together. We planned ahead for the day itself: where her transition would take place; what I wished to do with Lucy's body afterwards; what graveside ceremony I might wish to hold.
Lucy and I found just the right witness to our last weeks together. Terri's contributions to our process helped make a very sad, sad time also ring with truth, and a good way to die. I do hope others encounter Terri, and that they will call upon her when the time is right. She can help. She does help. She will help."
Mary McDonald-Lewis, Portland, OR.
About Dr. Daniel
Dr. Terri Daniel is an interfaith hospice chaplain, end-of-life educator, and grief counselor certified in death, dying and bereavement by the Association of Death Education and Counseling and in trauma support by the International Association of Trauma Professionals. She conducts workshops throughout the U.S. and teaches at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Terri is also the founder of The Afterlife Conference (now in its 11th year), and the Ask Doctor Death podcast. She is also the author of four books on death, grief and the afterlife.
Over the years Terri has helped hundreds of people learn to live, die and grieve more consciously. Her work is acclaimed by hospice professionals, spiritual seekers, therapists theologians, and academics worldwide.
Terri has a BA in Religious Studies from Marylhurst University, an MA in Pastoral Care from Fordham University, and a Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Care and Counseling from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.