Professional Background

MarcellaHello. My name is Marcella Fox. I hope this page will help you get a sense of why I've come to offer grief support and how my background and education can benefit you when you need help with your grief.

My understanding of grief goes far beyond my personal experiences of the deaths of family members, friends, and animal companions. Through years of working with grieving children and adults — as well as taking seminars, workshops, college courses, and continuing education — I have learned to "walk beside" people who are dealing with a death, providing support to help them understand and cope with the feelings and other parts of grief.

In case you want to know more, here are some details:

In 1996, I started this journey with a 40-hour Summer Intensive at The Dougy Center — the premier support group model for grieving children and their families. Based on that training, I was hired to oversee a hospice grief support program for children, teens, and adults and facilitate the groups.

I've also taken comprehensive hospice volunteer trainings at two different hospices for patient/family visits and for grief support. I've worked directly with hospice patients and their families, focusing on practical support and anticipatory grief.

Since then, I've earned a BA in psychology focusing on death and dying, change and loss, and grief, including a practicum was at Willamette Valley Hospice. I've had much more training in grief support than most counselors, therapists, and social workers get.

I've been providing grief support in one of our local hospitals since 2008, helping loved ones process someone's impending death, helping people face their own death, and helping family members through unexpected deaths. I'm a member of Association for Death Education and Counseling, working toward Certified Thanatologist certification with that organization.

My work with many, many grieving individuals and families has shown me that we each take our own route through grief. In the depths, it may seem overwhelming, yet time and time again I've seen people's inner strengths come forth.

Specifically about Animal Companions (Pets)

I know how important our animal companions are to many of us and I know how difficult a pet's end of life process can be for us — so I added Pet Grief to my grief support work. I'm grateful I have the training, education, and experience to be able to do this work and do it well.

I've offered grief support and created ceremony for people and their animals. I've sat with families during euthanasia and helped them bury their pets.

While earning my BA in psychology, I spent a year as a Research Assistant working on a study about the ways mental health professionals treat clients who are grieving the death of a pet. My faculty advisor for that project, Dr Tamina Toray, was a co-founder of one of the first pet loss support programs established at a veterinary teaching hospital: now Argus Institute at Colorado State University.

On the personal side, I've had pets since early elementary school: cats, dogs, fish, mice, chameleons. As an adult, I've fostered dogs and I've pet-sat throughout my life. I've been responsible for euthanasia decisions for my own pets and held them while they died. I've buried my pets, I've reverently flushed them down the toilet, and I've driven their bodies to the crematory.

I do not shy away from the difficult questions and feelings that come up when a favored animal is very sick or when one dies, and I am very willing to help you face these when you are in that situation.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I'd be honored to help you face a pet's serious illness, or the loss or death of your beloved animal companion.