I’ll tell you right up front; the answer is almost anything. It’s important, however, to go through exactly what situations a service dog might be useful. After all, “everything” doesn’t tell you how a service dog could help you, it just says it can. I’m going to list out a few different situations and how service dogs can make a significant difference in overall quality of life. You don’t need to be deaf or blind to benefit from having one.
It’s probably safe to say by the time you become a parent you’ve experienced this phenomenon. Your emotions become so overwhelming they cause a tightness in your chest and abdomen. “Tightness” doesn’t get anywhere close to describing the feeling. It definitely brings awareness of how the person was feeling who initially coined the phrases “heartache” and “gut-wrenching.” The discomfort is, quite frankly, horrible.
No one fully understands yet why this happens but the why is only tangentially relevant. The real question is, “how do I make it stop?” The physical pain is wired directly into how you feel emotionally. The only way to stop it is to calm the emotional pain. There are a couple things you can do to relieve some types of mental anguish. Keep in mind that traumatizing events like losing a loved one may not respond immediately or they may get better only in small increments over many years.
The grief stage, depression, is always the most difficult for me. It already saps a ton of energy going through all of the other stages. It’s cruel, in a way, the last stage is the one which completely demotivates you. I should mention, not all types of grief are exactly the same. When dealing with a chronic condition, any bad news starts a new grief cycle. It’s frequent enough, there’s a part of you which feels like an outsider watching a train wreck. It’s obvious what’s coming, you don’t want to watch, but you can’t prevent it or look away.
All the things you normally do to relax and unwind are no longer interesting. If you’re prone to an addiction (food, smoking, alcohol) then the need for a fix is overwhelming. The fatigue is overwhelming, and most things just don’t seem important anymore. To anyone else it looks like something is terribly wrong, but it’s completely normal to feel like this for a little while; if the depression in this type of grief goes on for more than a week or two it may be time to become concerned. There are other types where stages may take months or years depending on the loss.
It’s been apparent for a while our son had medical problems. Until the diagnosis this month, we were in the dark about a lot of things. However, we still had enough information to know this would probably go on for a while and things would come up we didn’t expect. It took me by surprise this week when I was hit with grief not just once, but twice. I accepted our son had a chronic medical condition a long time ago. Why would I be so distressed at hearing bad news from his doctors?
There are five stages of grief in the Kübler-Ross model. I’ve sourced the stages from Wikipedia.org and shortened them where appropriate.
- Denial — The first reactions is denial. In this stage individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.
- Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, it becomes frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”; “Why would this happen?”.
- Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Other times, they will use anything valuable against another human agency to extend or prolong the life. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.
- Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?” […] During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the mathematical probability of death. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.
- Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”; “Nothing is impossible.” In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future […] this state […] typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.