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A Furry Friend to Comfort the Grieving

13116460_875324819263332_362816585251506194_oAs anyone who has lost someone close to them knows, the days following a loved one’s death can be an emotional rollercoaster. Between the visitation, funeral, and burial services, there are numerous events following a death that can emotionally taxing. One funeral home in White Plains, New York has found a way to help ease the pain and emotional strife of the deceased's grieving relatives and friends. Ballard-Durand Funeral and Cremation Services has enlisted the help of Lulu, a sweet and lovable goldendoodle therapy dog, to attend funeral services and interact with grieving loved ones, with the hopes that some of the sadness and pain will be eased, even if just for a short while. Matt Florillo, the owner of Ballard-Duran, has said that Lulu is incredibly in-tune with the emotions of people around her. She has the ability to know who needs her the most, and will sit by those loved ones during funeral services for as long as they need. Lulu also knows how to “pray” during the funeral – crossing her paws and bowing her head – a trick that Florillo says helps ease the tension surrounding such a sad day. Lulu is available for any and all events throughout the grieving process.

While many news outlets such as the Huffington Post and the Today Show have taken a particular interest in Lulu and her adorable trick, a number of funeral homes across the country have also utilized therapy dogs to comfort grieving family members. Three funeral homes in Ohio employ therapy dogs Magic, Dempsey, and Lily to provide “quiet comfort” to loved ones left behind. A variety of breeds can be used for therapy dogs as Magic is Portuguese Water Dog, Dempsey is a Bernese Mountain Dog and Lily seems to be a Bichon Frise. While the breed, size, and age of the dogs all differ, they have one thing in common – their ability to comfort those who need it the most.

I have just become a first-time dog owner myself, and it is almost uncanny how aware dogs are of the emotions of the people surrounding them. I can only imagine how comforting it must be to have a furry friend nearby when dealing with such a sad time in one’s life. There seems to be a growing number of funeral homes that offer therapy dogs, and I can see why this is a popular trend. Of course, there is always the option to not have a therapy dog at a funeral service, but for those who need comfort the most, it seems a furry friend can be a loveable source of relief.

Kelsey Mellan


Sandy (Social Embers)

We are seeing more animals being used in palliative care in the UK. If appropriate then the dogs can bring a lot of comfort to bereaved families, but we must remember that many people would not feel comfortable around dogs. Thank you Kelsey.

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