WORCESTER —A woman cradled her head in her hands, sobbing as her husband tried to convey that they were there to find some solace, to process, in the loss of their beloved dog. Another woman shared that she was attending to help explain death to her daughter, as the young girl was struggling over the loss of a pet guinea pig. Several attended in an effort to learn more on the subject, psychologists who wanted to expand their understanding of the animal-human bond and the phenomenon of grief.
“It was very moving and cathartic,” said one attendee. Others remarked, “Very interesting and helpful” and “I liked the speaker and what he had to say.”
The speaker and group leader was Kaleel Sakakeeny, ordained animal chaplain and prominent pet loss counselor, who led a captivated group to discuss their experience with loss, process that grief and the connection with animals. It’s a connection to which many do not relate. The program offered a safe space for like-minded people to learn more about this bond, and process grief.
Sakakeeny led the program Our Animals, Ourselves: Conversations With Kaleel” on Saturday, May 18, in the Banx Room of the Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem St., Worcester. According to organizers, it drew a larger audience than usual for a Saturday afternoon.
“Patrons asked if we would be able to have you back again,” said Katherine Rabeuf, reference librarian at WPL. “It is very clear that there is a need for this in Worcester. I was very touched by how much love was expressed towards beloved non-human family members.”
Not only will the WPL be scheduling a return for another program led by Sakakeeny, the success of the event showed a clear need for this type of gathering and event in any community. We urge those who are able to schedule a presentation with Sakakeeny to do so, or to showcase his work in a publication or a TV or radio program.
A strong advocate for animal rights and welfare, Kaleel works to deepen understanding the connection between all forms of life. In this program, he also addresses the process of grief (how does it actually “work?”) and why advocating for animals is healthy for people and the planet. Kaleel urges guests to bring with them stories and questions to this informal, intimate conversation. A brief, animal-oriented meditation and memory moment takes place just before the discussion.
As a pet grief counselor, Kaleel provides a groundbreaking service that most people don’t even know exists. Pet Ministry Boston and Pet Grief Help are helpful resources for more information and assistance, but Kaleel adds the extra support many need on their grief journey. His pet grief help and counseling Facebook page offers caring, timely and popular content and images that focus on healing from loss and the pain of losing a beloved pet.
His discussion group called Animal Talks, led by Kaleel, also meets monthly at the Stratford Street Church in West Roxbury, MA.
An exceptional presenter, Kaleel has captivated audiences at churches, civic groups, libraries, schools and universities.