Providing end-of-life care and bereavement care with distinction
Serving Middlesex, Monmouth and the surrounding counties in Central Jersey
The HEAL Method
Dr. Smith founded the HEAL Method where care is provided through
- Loss Support
This method is a comprehensive way to approach the loss of a pet – emphasizing the equal importance of each step. Delivering the highest level of professionalism, integrity and compassion is essential to supporting those who are navigating the steps in this process.
Making the decision that your pet requires end-of-life care is a very difficult thing to do. And no one needs to do it alone. Dr Smith can come to meet your pet and hear the full story of how your pet is doing to partner with you in figuring out the best path ahead. If your family would like to continue with treatment, then your pet will become a hospice patient under Dr Smith’s care.
Families say, “I just want him to be comfortable” or “I know she’s getting worse, but I still see the will in her to live.” This is the time for hospice. During this phase, treatments are no longer geared towards curing a condition, but instead simply maximizing a pet’s comfort and quality of life. The term palliative care is also used to define this stage – treating pain, nausea, inappetance, infections and whatever else may negatively impact the pet’s day to day pleasure. It is a time to frequently be in contact with Dr Smith to discuss the changes being observed at home and to determine if there are more tools available or if instead the pet’s life is nearing the end. Hospice can last for weeks if the pet was relatively stable at the outset. And sometimes hospice care is just one visit where Dr Smith will discuss the pet’s quality of life and the family will set an end-of-life appointment for one or two days into the future to give everyone a little time to adjust to this necessity.
The word literally means “good death” and that is the promise kept by Dr Smith. The dignity and comfort of your pet are paramount in the process. By using a combination of anesthetic drugs to achieve a calm mind, free of any anxiety, and a relaxed body, relieved of pain, your pet will experience peaceful rest until the relaxation is too profound to recover from, resulting in their passing. This death spares them of any struggle, confusion or pain in those final moments. What they know is that you were right there with them as they drifted off comfortably to a wakeless sleep.
Tending to a loved one’s body after they have passed is an act of respect and love. Dr Smith has put in place specific measures to take careful and respectful care of each pet. If the family elects to have their pet cremated, Dr Smith will transport the pet from the family home. According to the wishes of the family, one option is that the pet can be brought to their local veterinary office or to another veterinary facility (for instance, a specialty hospital) for cremation arrangements to be finalized. In this instance, the family will retrieve the cremains of their pet from that location in the days or weeks that follow the service.
A second option available through Journeys to Peace is that Dr Smith will personally attend to your pet’s care throughout the aftercare arrangements. Dr Smith will transport your pet to the pet crematorium and she will return there to retrieve the cremains and deliver them back to your home, at an appointment time the family selects. The benefit of this highly personalized care is the comfort families feel knowing their pet was handled only by a trusted professional, that their pet was properly identified throughout the process and that cremation was completed as near to the time of passing as possible. For many of the same reasons that being at home is best for euthanasia, so to is being home far more comforting when accepting the return of your pet’s cremains. That moment is a milestone within the grief journey and Dr Smith wants families to have the support of her skills as a Pet Loss Counselor during that time.
If your pet has passed away at home, you may contact Journeys to Peace for Aftercare arrangements. Dr Smith will come to your home and transport your pet for cremation arrangements, according to your wishes.
A fundamental concept to Dr Smith’s HEAL Method is that Loss Support is an essential service that accompanies the death of a pet. In most other circumstances, a family is left to navigate their grief journey on their own, often with inadequate support even from those who are their closest friends and family. When proper support is lacking, the process of grieving is disorganized and sometimes never fully comes to a healthy conclusion. With the benefit of proper support, provided by Journeys to Peace, there is a guide to help the family acknowledge and experience their grief, as well as make strides toward healing, at their own pace.
Loss Support encompasses a wide range of services. Please contact Dr Smith by phone or email to request more information.
- Counseling – Dr Smith can provide individual counseling by phone or video call and, in special circumstances, by in-home appointment
- Medical records review – based on her unique qualifications, Dr Smith can receive and review medical records and then provide a more detailed explanation of a pet’s experience. Whether the family needs to better understand the disease itself, the results of tests that were conducted or the reasons why particular treatments succeeded or failed, Dr Smith can devote the time to providing a preliminary explanation and then answer the family’s specific questions. Particularly in cases where a pet passed as a result of a crisis or emergency, sometimes families struggle to heal from their grief because they were not able to understand the events as they unfolded. This review can be very helpful to intellectually understand what went on, helping families find peace with the outcome through that greater understanding.
- Workshops – Journeys to Peace hosts periodic meetings with different stations focused on art therapy techniques, writing exercises and small group discussions all designed to promote healthy grieving
- Art therapy kits – Dr Smith has created special kits that are mailed out, containing the supplies and instructions for guided art therapy experiences for different age groups
- Resources – from group session counseling options to call-in hotlines to chat rooms online, there are a number of different paths to pursue for help. Dr Smith also has books to recommend for those who wish to journey more privately.