Helping people cope with grief is incredibly difficult, because grief takes so many different forms. But one funeral home has found a way to help ease mourners’ grief no matter what form it takes.
Ballard-Durand Funeral and Cremation Services out of New York “hired” a unique grief counselor — a goldendoodle named Lulu.
“Humans need to touch,” funeral home President Matthew Fiorillo told TODAY. “Even just petting her can be a subtle distraction from the tremendous amount of grief people are going through.”
Fiorillo came up with the idea of having a therapy dog on hand when he was traveling in 2014. His flight had been canceled, leaving him in the lurch and incredibly frustrated. While he was trying to get a handle on his anger and figure out a new plan, a woman walked by with her maltese.
“A wave of calmness washed over me, and after it happened I was like, wow, that was really powerful! I started researching the benefits of having a dog around and ways to implement it in the funeral home,” Fiorillo says. When he brought Lulu on board, he noticed an immediate impact on his grieving clients. It helped them to have her available for petting or talking to or even just silent companionship.
Lulu helps Fiorillo as well. Because the funeral home is so often emotional, Fiorillo finds comfort in having Lulu around and they eat breakfast together every morning.
Four paws up to Lulu for being such an incredible dog and for doing such good for the humans who need her comfort. Let’s hope other funeral homes follow Fiorillo’s example and bring therapy dogs in as valued staff members.
These animals can do so much for so many.
Here’s a quick video with more: