What does it mean to create familial bonds between humans and animals? Do love, mourning, and empathy matter less if they are directed toward nonhuman animals? This narrative-driven essay explores the nuances of loss during a widely precarious year, and the ways families are created and dissolved through mourning, while also addressing the socially fraught history of the “witchy cat lady.” The author, a full-spectrum doula who had previously specialized in stillbirth support, argues that empathy may offer a heightened version of itself when it demands communicating across a species difference.
Soft Animal Heart: Creating and Losing Family across Species
Lauren A. Mitchell is Assistant Professor of Medical Education and Director of Narrative Medicine at the TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine. Correspondence to: Lauren A. Mitchell, TCU and UNTHSC School of Medicine, 3500 Camp Bowie Boulevard, Fort Worth, TX 76107, USA. Email: email@example.com.
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Lauren A. Mitchell; Soft Animal Heart: Creating and Losing Family across Species. Departures in Critical Qualitative Research 1 September 2021; 10 (3): 24–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/dcqr.2021.10.3.24
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