Pets are family. The loss of a pet can be traumatizing because of this. When we start to objectively define loss for another as small or not significant, we miss the whole point of grief. Grief is a reaction to loss and the severity is connected to the level of love. A dog or cat or horse are all great companions. These type of higher intelligent companion pets have connections with the person that cannot be ignored. Lesser intelligent pets may not have the emotional connection, but as grief counselors, we need to recognize in particular cases the affect of the loss on the person.
So it is important that the loss of pets be taken far more seriously. An individual who loves his dog and lost his companion will suffer as much as a person who may have lost a brother. Just because some individuals do not love animals, does not invalidate the legitimate bond with our pets.
The article, “Why we should start recognising the loss of a pet as ‘real grief'” by Jill Stark looks at this type of loss more deeply and why it is so important to recognize. She states,
“There is often the expectation to keep feelings “in perspective” or to move on and “just get another one” – as if our pets are interchangeable non-entities we can replace like an old pair of socks.”
I feel, these terms used by many towards the grieving over pets are insensitive and dodge the real loss and pain. One can never replace a family member and because of this, one can never replace a pet.
Great article on talking to a child about the death of a pet. The death of a pet is a horrible loss but is also usually the first death experience for a child. It is important to properly grieve the loss but to also use it as teaching moment to explain death. While a teaching moment may be very difficult for the loss of a dog, horse or cat, it may be easier if it is a goldfish, or hampster.
The article, “The Dog Isn’t Sleeping: How To Talk With Children About Death” by Cody Turner states,
“My parents exchanged pained glances. I know now that life had put them in an impossible bind. Mingo had been dying for months and suffering for weeks. The vet urged euthanasia then and there. My parents reluctantly but humanely agreed. But how to tell me? So they didn’t, hoping to wait until after my birthday.”
In a breakup, many secondary losses occur. One secondary loss that is not considered is the loss of a pet in a divorce or breakup. Not seeing a pet is one loss that can occur. This can lead to a loss that sometimes is overlooked by society.
In breakups and divorce this type of loss is all too common and the state, like with children, does not grant shared custody of a pet, even if we wish to consider our pet equal to a human. Ultimately, many bitter breakups use children and also pets as ways to punish the other when in reality you are only punishing the child or the pet.
The article,”LOSING A PET IN A BREAKUP IS THE HARDEST PART OF SPLITTING NO ONE TALKS ABOUT—HERE ARE TIPS TO DEAL” by Rachel Lapida states,
“I remember the day we got her: Penny was a tiny chocolate ball of a puppy who already knew how to fetch and she could sleep in the bed with her human parents. I lived with my boyfriend and we raised her together before adding another puppy, Zelda, to our household a year later. I loved all three of my roommates so much—until my boyfriend and I broke up and he took the dogs. And that’s why I have to write about them in past tense. They’re still alive, but not in my life.”
Please also review our Pet Loss Grief Counseling program to learn more. The program is online and independent study that is open to qualified professionals looking for certification in Pet Loss Grief Counseling.
Dogs grieve too over the loss of a loved one or fellow pet. They are creatures of habit and the loss of a regular pattern or the lack of a particular face can leave them confused. They will pine the missing person and need to be monitored during these times.
The article,”Pets grieve too – here’s how to help them cope after the death of a loved one” by Karen Rockett states,
Dogs may experience anxiety when a person they spent a lot of time with no longer comes through the door at the same time each evening. Comfort your dog if they come to you for a cuddle.
Great article on how serious the loss of a pet can be. Pets are just not animals but actual family members. Their value to the individual is that of a child to many. This is not something odd or crazy but is in fact quite a normal attachment. Some individuals may have more severe attachment to a pet but no studies show this to be unhealthy or bad. In fact, it is human to love an animal, especially a pet as if one of the family. In many cases, pets to some are better family than people.
The article, “Here’s Why People Need to Be Taken Seriously When Grieving the Death of a Pet” by Maryanne Garvey explores this and dismisses the statement, “it was just a pet” to be something more than a minimal loss but a very emotional and serious loss. The article states,
“We can feel very, very intense grief when a beloved pet dies. A pet is a family member. When any beloved family member dies, those who love him or her grieve. One can grieve as much or even more over the death of a pet as that of a human,” Cohen explained.
The love and bond between a boy and his dog is one of the first true bonds that is tested in death for a child. It is a sad loss with true value but also a loss that teaches one the nature of death in this broken world. One learns though how to love, how to give and how to be love unconditionally back.
The article, “A Boy and His Dog: Finding Strengths and the Capacity To Love Through Grief and Loss” illustrates how conventional stereotypes of how a man should grieve and the loss of a dog brought one man to his knees in grief. The article states,
“No one tells you how multi-layered grief can be: I supposed it is one of those things that must be experienced first-hand. I know if I am going to resolve my grief, I have to feel this. I have to accept this loss and let “sad” happen. ”
I think this article pastes together these two aspects of how men should grieve and how loss does not see one’s gender when grieving the loss of one of our furry friends. Please also review our Pet Loss Grief Counseling program to learn more and become trained in Pet Loss Grief Counseling.
One of the first and most painful memories of a child is the loss of a pet. Even the simple loss of a fish displays the fragile nature of life and that animals do not live forever and that death is part of life. This is critical learning lesson for children as they discover life is not forever and the startling conclusion that even mommy or daddy can die. This needs to be dealt with carefully as not to traumatize the child but to educate the child on the reality of death. Hiding the child from the loss of a pet, as if to replace the fish, is not a good idea. It only reinforces bad concepts regarding life and death itself. Please also review our Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program as well as our Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling Progam
The article, “A dying fish, a beloved dog and a parenting lesson, of sorts”, by Theresa Vargas states
“I thought a dead fish was the worst thing my 5-year-old son could find in his new fish tank.
Great article that looks at the nature of pet bereavement and the affects on a person. Some warrant that the loss should be treated as a family loss and that bereavement days may even be needed. Please also review our Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program
The article, Does the Death of a Pet Warrant Bereavement Time? A Scientist Weighs In, by Yasmin Tayag states
“In 2015, Chantal Dumais arrived at her home near Montreal to find her cat’s body on the floor, smeared with blood. Deeply upset, Dumais asked her employer whether she could work from home the next day. When her request was denied — her employer argued that a pet’s death didn’t warrant bereavement time — Dumais filed a complaint with the local labour tribunal. This July, the tribunal announced the final verdict: Only human deaths justify time off to grieve.
University of Colorado, Boulder professor of sociology Leslie Irvine, Ph.D. would disagree.”
Pets grieve like we do. They grieve the absence of a friend or owner. The love between pet and owner is like family. So while we grieve, we must also be aware that our pets can grieve in their own way. Please also review our Pet Loss Grief Counseling Certification. To review the program please click here and see if the program matches your academic and professional needs.
The article, Do Pets Feel Grief? Here’s What To Do If Your Pet Seems Especially Down, by Brandi Neal states
“Pets are a lot like humans, and just like their human counterparts, pets feel grief when they suffer a loss. If your pet is acting differently after a human or animal companion disappears from their life, you might not realize at first that your pet is in mourning. However, a study published in the journal Animals found that pets exhibit specific behaviors when they’re grieving, some of which mimic the five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.”