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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Tails of loss

Photo by Photo by Meredith Seaver

Wyatt, a border collie, was the reason Jim Vanbeek began visiting the Mending Hearts Grieving Center.

A support group in College Station is helping locals who are mourning after the loss of a family pet.
The Mending Hearts Grief Center hosts Tails of Loss, a support group meeting which meets once a month to discuss memories, stories and strategies to help with the loss of beloved furry friends. Elaine Brooks, Bill Armstrong, Joan Serber and Bonnie Beaver helped bring the group together in 2016.
Brooks has worked with the Trap, Neuter, and Return program for the last 15 years, which helps cats in the local area live better lives. She said the support group originated when she realized owners had no place to meet and support each other after losing their pets.
“It essentially all started between me and Bill Armstrong when we were talking at his house about animals and when they die, that there is no place to go when your pet dies,” Brooks said.
Serber has worked in hospice care in the Brazos Valley for the last 13 years and said the grieving process can take a very long time.
“One of things that we saw that, this sounds crazy, but some people even admitted at our meetings that they have grieved harder over their own pets than some family members,” Serber said.
Beaver, a veterinary medicine professor, held a meeting about pets and losses at Texas A&M in 2009. The event was advertised in the newspaper and hundreds of people showed up in attendance.
“With the event that Bonnie had years ago, it definitely was a launch pad for the meetings we have today, and with her knowledge of what she does in the world of pets is truly helpful in our meetings,” Brooks said.
Jim Vanbeek is one of the members that is attending group sessions to process of loss of his dog Wyatt, who died six weeks ago due to illness.
“Having something like this where you can talk to people that understand and share stories that know where you’re coming and what you’re going through definitely helps,” Vanbeek said.
Rebecca Galloway is also a member coming for her second time, as she has mourned the loss of her two cats Max and Phoebe.
“I came to the group and I’ve found this so helpful, because I couldn’t find a way to make it through,” Galloway said. “I would write poetry and make myself busy but I was just so grief stricken and I know I just need time.”
Tails of Loss is helping set up a pet memorial open to the public for anyone mourning or going through a loss. It will open this upcoming October at the Crestwood Airbrooks retirement home in College Station.
The support group meets the second Saturday out of the month 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Mending Hearts Griefing Center in College Station. For updates, visit

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