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As a veterinary team member, staying strong for clients

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
I work at an animal hospital. I have learned how to tune out emotions for the most part during euthanasias, I stay strong, focused, & professional for the clients. Sometimes though, I have one that really tugs at my heart. Maybe a regular client, that I have become friendly with & even a bit attached to their pets. Today I was faced with one of those situations. This cat wasn't actually euthanized yet, but she is close & ready to go. The client was hysterical & I was at a loss for words. I didn't cry myself, I just said I was sorry & left the room. The last hour of my shift I was kind of zoning, pre-occupied with thoughts of this cat. I felt so incredibly terrible & it made me think of my own babies. I have been spending time with them this evening & just really appreciating how much joy they bring to me everyday.

Any advice on how to handle these situations?
post #2 of 12
I am so sorry ((((((HUGS)))))) .I don't know what to say .
But maybe with those animals where there is no other way but to do that , to think it was better for the animal . No more pain and suffering and to concentrate on that . I don't know if that may help a little or not .
post #3 of 12
Having never had to face a client in such a situation, I am not sure I can advise, but if I were the client and the vet or tech showed what could be considered too much emotion, I would be touched and honored that my pet meant something to someone else but me. Sometimes remaining strong can be interpereted as not being caring.
post #4 of 12
kris, you have the privilege (and also the misfortune) of helping those animals out of pain to a peaceful end. The privilege of ending the suffering of the animal, the misfortune of seeing the suffering begin on the part of the owner(s). The fact that you can detach from the reality of the moment to get through the moment speaks volumes of your strength and character. Some owners don't need strength, they need to know that it is okay to cry, to get angry to yell or hit a pillow- it is also perfectly acceptable for you to do the same if you feel like it- so you do not lose touch with that special strength inside of you, you should just let go every once in awhile.

I remember when we took Rerun in to be put to sleep. One of the vet techs came up to me and hugged me, and we shed tears together at the loss of this noble kitty. It meant more to me that she reached out this way walking away from her lab coat for a moment and touched my heart. It certainly meant more to me than the customary card the vet sends out that conveys sympathy for the loss of our cat.
post #5 of 12
I just had a terrible scare with my cat Simon. I had to rush him from my regular vet to the emergency vet with a blockage. Luckily they got it in time and he is home and recovering well. I was terribly upset at my regular vets because she told me the situation was dire. One of the things that impressed me most was that the vet called me later that night to check and see how I was doing. She was not at work and did not have to, but I was really touched that she cared enough.

I don't think your clients would be upset to see that you felt something for their animals. Sometimes the strongest people are the ones that are not afraid to let emotion show.
post #6 of 12
I'm so sorry you have to be very strong to do the job you do, I could never do it. I try SO hard not to cry at the vets office, but sometimes I just can't help it. The ONLY time I have ever seen my husband cry was at a vet hosp when we had to put a dog we were rescueing to sleep. I have seen our vet get misty eyed and I personally think it is okay to show some emotion. You are only human and being a animal person you understand the pain the person is going through. When i'm in the waiting room and see someone leaving the vets office in tears i tear up too, not because I know there pet just because I know how deep that pain hurts
post #7 of 12
This is the thing I dread the most when I get out of school and start working in a clinic.I know I will end up bawling right along with the owners.
My professor said that when she was in practice that she sometimes did cry in front of them and there were other times that she went into another room,and even sometimes cried when she got home.She said that she eventually didn't cry after every one,but it did always bother her when an animal was euthanized.

She told us that when we started having to deal with these things and if we got to the point that it didn't bother us at least somewhat,then we needed to take a break from it.
post #8 of 12
My vet is a stoic - I know that and can handle when he is unemotional when the time comes. But many of his vet techs, particularly Donna (who housesits when we go on vacation) will get very teary-eyed when things are bad - she knows all of my babies well after years of helping me.

I always put up such a big (strong) front when I have to take my babies in the last time. Seeing Donna in tears makes me lose my toughness and I end up balling at the office (instead of at home in private). I'm glad she does this, as it brings the release that I desparately need. Some people like myself just cry better with company.
post #9 of 12
I really admire you for the job you do, because i couldnt do it, it would break my heart.

I chat on another site here in the UK, and there is a vet nurse who also comes on the site, and she often gives advice on minor problems.

At the end of the day, your only human if you show any emotions, and i'm sure the owners would understand, i know i would.

post #10 of 12
When my Shalimar crossed the bridge, I was in work and she was in the vet's cage. When the vet called me, he encouraged me to come see her to say goodbye. When I got there they gave me an examining room in private. The vet and his tech came in and gave me a hug even tho the tech openly admitted she was afraid of my "nasty cat". (and she was nasty to the poor tech).

My advice to you is something a vet did many years ago when I was bringing my mom's cat for the same reason. He got emotional, didn't want to get emotional in front of me, so he excused himself so he could go calm himself. He said he would be back when he was able to give my cat the care she deserved.
post #11 of 12
I also work in an animal hospital. I have been at our clinic for 12 years. My reactions to euthanasias havn't changed much. Each and every one I observe or participate in has a tug on my heart. Some are much, much harder if the pet has been a long time friend. I now see friends that were kittens or puppies when I began, now old and ailing and facing that final visit. I have sometimes been the one who puts my arms around the "mom" who is grieving, and I grieve too.
I have never tried to put on a brave face. My Drs. are so kindly, I weep often with the clients,( with dignity, of course, My grief or sadness cannot be compared to theirs). I've found that clients appreciate that I care about their pets, that I too am going to miss them. I have even been asked by clients who find it too hard stay with their pet, if I would stay. And I do. And, I always, always let the clients know that the decision to ease a suffering pet whose quality of life is zilch, that the most loving thing to be done is to ease that suffering. It is the most unselfish. Having just been through it recently for my own old guy, I know it isn't easy, but it was right. Maybe you can talk to the practice owner, or maybe you already know how he/she feels, but maybe letting your own deep feelings show a little by silent tears while comforting a client should be ok. I appreciate so much that my practice owner has learned that a little emotion is ok, and we have many letters from appreciative clients to prove it as well. My heart is with you. The veterinary field is such a rewarding one. Just remember those days where you get such great feeling from the miracle that happened that day. Sarabi
post #12 of 12
I have never had to put a cat down nor do I work in the vet field but I admire the work that you do. It takes a strong heart to care for animals and love them so much at the same time. I have a hard time even driving by the Humane Shelter here in town. The only time I have been in there, a man came in with his dog and I heard him saying to the receptionist that he was there to surrender his pet. It tore me up to even hear him say that let alone being the one who actually had to help him with the task.
Keep up the good work, ever how depressing it may seem at times. In your line of work you care for pets as long as possible until it is time to relieve them of thier suffering.
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