Disenfranchised grief for animal companions: a study of volunteer animal foster carers

Clare Barrett, Lefteris Patlamazoglou

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Existing research, although sparse, suggests that grief for animals may be disenfranchised in nature, as it is often underacknowledged by society. Although prior studies have focused on pet owners and persons working with animals in diverse contexts, the experiences of animal foster carers whose animal died during their period of care has attracted limited research attention. Foster carers are vital to the functioning of rescue and welfare organisations, who rely on these volunteers to provide temporary in-home care to animals who are not yet eligible for permanent adoption due to medical, behavioural, logistical or legal reasons. This exploratory project begins to address this gap through a qualitative analysis of the lived experiences of volunteer animal foster carers. Seven participants were interviewed and data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Four superordinate themes were identified: The meaning of fostering animals, experiences of animal death, psychological impact of animal death, and coping with animal death. It is important for practitioners to acknowledge and validate the lost relationship and type of loss. The influence of the meaning of the relationship to the grief experience as well as practical and research implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2018
EventAustralian Grief and Bereavement Conference 2018 - Novotel Manly Pacific, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 8 Aug 201810 Aug 2018


ConferenceAustralian Grief and Bereavement Conference 2018

Cite this