…and sometimes you have a pet.
I first heard the term “compassion fatigue” at a lecture by veterinary oncologist Greg Ogilvie a few months ago. I was having trouble differentiating the term from “burn out” until I read up on both and realized I am most likely struggling with both.
“Compassion Fatigue symptoms are normal displays of chronic stress resulting from the care giving work we choose to do.” from Compassion Fatigue Awareness Project ©
This is directly related to giving compassion away and allowing yourself to become exhausted. It is a narrow term that describes the possible effects of caring without adequately replenishing personal reserves. Compassion fatigue is a condition that affects caregivers such as nurses, doctors, clergy, veterinary team members…
burn out – “exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration” – from Merriam-Webster dictionary
This is a more general term describing the exhaustion caused by normal day-to-day work-related stresses. Burn out can affect anyone.
I will always look stuff up and try to figure it out before I see a professional. I know you google “dog” “snotty nose” “weird bark” before you come see me too. We can’t help it. And there is so much to be learned. I really think that is okay. I promise to call in the experts to help me solve stuff way outside my expertise if I get in over my head if you promise to do the same.
This week I had several euthanasia appointments, a few euthanasia consultations and more clients with pets who have recently passed away who I am trying to help transition from “I have an older pet who needs very involved care” to “I miss my friend.” That has been my year too. And the year of a very good friend. And now, as of this morning, that has “officially” become the year of another very good friend. Pet loss and sadness. It isn’t like we didn’t know how the stories would end. It isn’t like I didn’t know this would be a very significant portion of my career.
In my ever-faltering attempt to be a positive influence, I said to my team at work after a particularly sad day this past week, “And THAT is how God answers prayer.”
But do you know what? Sometimes it is.
And do you know what else? Things are probably going to get better. They almost always do.
“Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead.”
I know this beautiful song is not about pet loss, but I still love it. And listening to music is healing. When Adele writes that one, I will post a link to it too. ♥