When it comes to the issue of loving an animal enough to feel physical pain, Alyssa Krieger has a unique perspective on the topic. She runs the MSPCA-Angell shelter, located in Massachusetts and sees her volunteers coming and going on a regular basis.
The burden of caring for shelter animals can be difficult to carry and while big hearted people are able to deal with in short spurts, their love can start to become a detriment to their overall well being. This condition is known as compassion fatigue and it is very common for those who spend lots of time around shelter animals.
Compassion fatigue is particularly difficult to diagnose, since we often lack the self awareness to know that it is taking place. The painful feelings that shelter workers experience because of the hurt that the animals are forced to endure tends to build over the course of time.
One of the most telltale sign of compassion fatigue is a permanent change in worldview. Those who work with helpless animals are not able to undo what they have been exposed to. It is the sort of awakening that makes it essentially impossible to close one’s eyes ever again.
To ward off these feelings, Krieger recommends that her employees develop the proper balance between work and their personal life. She has spoken candidly about her refusal to take lunch breaks and go home on time. Now that she has found the right balance between work and home life, she is in a much better place as a result.
She is constantly telling her workers that they need to go home and take care of themselves on a personal level, so that they can be at their sharpest when it is time to care for the animals that they love so dearly.
It is important for any person who works in a profession that deals closely with death to take proper care of themselves and make the right decisions for their personal welfare. Now that the old idea that you can simply “power through” the tough times is falling by the wayside, a more open environment has been created.
Kreiger preaches the importance of going home to take a breather to all of her employees and readers should be sure to pass this story along to their friends and family members who work in this field, so that awareness of compassion fatigue can be raised.
What do you think?