Like any loss, life changes afterwards. It takes time to recover and adjust to the new normal. While this new normal may be painful, people learn to adjust and grow. Losing a pet is no different. Adjusting to not having the love and company of a pet can take months to heal and finally accept as a new and sad reality. Time heals but one never forgets the love of a dog that greets you at the door, or snuggling cat, or even a ride through the forest with a horse. They are not truly pets but companions and family.
The article, “Life after a pet’s death” from Manilia Standard Lifestyle looks at the steps to go through in adjusting to life without a beloved pet. The article states,
“Grieving is a highly personalized, individualistic experience that is influenced by culture and social groups. The process in which you might experience the pain of losing your pet might look immensely different from even a direct family member living in the same house, “ said Adam Clark, LCSW, in “7 Self-Care Essentials While Grieving the Death of a Pet” in Psychology Today.”
Grieving the loss of a pet is often considered non essential and can be disenfranchised. This leaves many grievers without recourse. They are left questioning their grief without any true support. The reality is the loss of a pet is a serious loss and needs to be validated and understood. Support for the loss of a pet is essential to anyone. Pets are family.
The article, “Grieving the Death of a Pet” by Chris Haws looks deeper at the nature of pet grief. He states,
“Like any grief counseling session, the participants are encouraged to talk openly about their feelings and express whatever emotion overwhelms them. Pet loss support groups are resolutely safe places … places where nobody is allowed to feel disenfranchised.”
It is important to accept pet loss grief as a normal grief equal to the loss of human companions. Pets for many are family. To dismiss the life of a pet or animal based on species is naive. It is wrong to assume that a connection between human and animal cannot exist. The bond is real and the love is equally real.
Pet Loss Grief Counseling Training can help prepare professionals to better aid individuals with the passing of a pet. Please review the program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.
Saying goodbye to a dog or for that matter any pet can be one of the most painful moments. Pets, especially dogs, cats and horses are more than mere objects we own, or things to watch but are actual family. They interact, share and enjoy life with us. Hence it is especially painful to lose one of our pets. Many would disenfranchise this loss as not important but this is farther from the truth.
A dog, cat or horse is family. They are far beyond a mere animal but someone we care about. There should never be any embarrassment or shame in grieving the loss of a pet that is our family. Those who do not understand the pain of losing a dog, cat or horse, are the ones who truly need to better understand life.
When the time comes to say goodbye, it will be painful, but one must be prepared for everyone eventually dies. This is part of the human condition.
The article, “Why Saying Goodbye to a Dog Is So Unbelievably Hard” by Jillian Blume looks at the particular loss of a dog and the intense pain that comes with losing a dog. She states,
“Humans can form intense emotional bonds with their dogs. In many ways, these bonds may be stronger and more enduring than our connection to most other human beings. And that’s why the idea of losing a beloved dog is something that pet parents try not to think about.”
Losing a dog is truly like losing family. The bond and love is as strong as family and always should be respected. If you would like to learn more about grief and pet loss then please review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Counseling Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.
The loss of a pet, especially a dog, cat or horse can be a very painful thing. Even the loss of smaller pets depending on the circumstances can leave a lasting void. The loss of a dog or cat or horse can play be for some as painful as losing family. While some individuals see animals as tools or objects to an end, many form lasting bonds with their fury friends. These bonds are family bonds. This is especially true for the family dog or cat. For those with these types of bonds and situations, the loss is as painful as losing a human friend or family member.
The article, “Losing a Pet Is as Painful as Losing a Human” by Ashley Laderer looks at why it is so painful to lose a pet and what to expect. She states,
“Many people develop deep bonds with their pets. According to a 2018 survey, 72% of Americans consider their pets to be family members, and research on pet loss throughout the years has consistently shown that the loss of a pet can feel as detrimental as the loss of a human family member.”
Society may scoff at pet loss and certain individuals may downgrade the loss and not important but those are opinions. Grief is based on the relation to the loss. While subjective, the role of dogs and cats in the life of a family are important. Seeing them as family members and missing them as family members when they are gone is not a stretch of absurdity but a true feeling of loss. It needs to be seen as a true loss and respected
Sad article about the very uncomfortable and difficult decision to euthanize a pet. Losing a pet is like losing a family member and deciding when to let to go can be in particular very painful. There is always the guilt of letting go too soon and then also from the other extreme allowing one’s dog or cat or pet to suffer longer. The goodbyes, the procedure, the drive home can all be very empty and sad.
Professionals can help navigate at the vet office, but there may also be need long after to discuss and cope with the dramatic loss of a pet. The article, “Feelings of guilt, grief common when navigating euthanasia” by Shannon Mullane discusses the process and emotional navigation through this painful process. She states,
“Americans spent $72 billion in 2018 on their pet companions, and research has shown the huge amount of grief owners can experience when the human-animal bond is broken at the time of a pet’s death. When it comes to euthanasia, that grief can be complicated by feelings of guilt, leaving pet owners in need of resources to navigate their loss.”
The loss of a pet is a big loss. For years and years, people downgraded this loss and acted as if it was just a pet. People were told they are over reacting over a loss of a pet. Now, society is seeing such losses as big losses to individuals. Pets are like family and the bonds of love are just as strong. With such discussions, some ask if pet bereavement time is needed from employment. Should employers give an employee time away from work to properly grieve?
The article, “Can You Take An Extended Period Off Work After Your Pet Dies?” by Rebecca Reid looks closer at this. She states,
“Mixed in with the sympathetic responses to Lorde’s loss were the voices of those who found her raw misery unpalatable, because it was felt for a pet, not a person. But grief is a strange, complicated thing. It’s entirely possible to feel nothing when someone who you ‘should’ feel sad about dies, and a huge amount at the loss of someone strange”
When our dogs are sad, we are sad. Dogs are family and when a dog is not feeling well or is grieving the loss of another person or pet, then we naturally want to comfort our dog. Dogs display emotion and sadness in different ways and we need to identify that grief and also be able to spark joy into their lives again.
The article, “How to help a dog who is grieving the loss of a loved one” by Lisa Walden states,
“Dogs experiencing a loss can show signs of confusion, fear or depression. If it’s the loss of their owner, you may notice dogs trying to figure out where that person has gone. If it’s another pet who has passed away, your dog may spend more time in their bed or favorite places, often with the hope that their friend may return.”
Losing a pet is not a minor thing in life. A cat, dog, or horse is a long term companion. To some, the pet is even family. Learning to live without the pet is something harder to do than other people may imagine.
The article, “4 Things I Learned About Grief After My Dog Died” by Deanna Adams discusses the pains of losing a dog. She states,
“Sometimes the death of a beloved pet comes suddenly and sometimes it’s expected. It can be tragic, traumatic and devastating. The loss is keenly felt and lives often change abruptly. Many of us consider our pets to be family, not “just a dog,” or “just a cat.” The death of a pet can hurt as much as the loss of a relative for some people”
The loss of a pet is a big deal. Dogs, cats and horses are like family. As the issue becomes larger, professionals are asking if a person should receive bereavement day for the loss of dog or cat or horse. While many do not receive days for aunts or uncles, but only parents or children, employers should consider giving someone a day to grieve the death of a pet. This is best for the business and the mindset of the griever.
The article, “Should employees be allowed bereavement leave when a pet dies?” by Kate Palmer states,
“Currently, there is no legal requirement for employers to allow their employees any time off work when their pet dies and, currently, no right to any form of bereavement leave at all. Permitting time off for employees in times of bereavement is down to the discretion of their employer and it is perfectly acceptable for them to refuse such a request.”
Losing a pet is traumatic but is there a line to be drawn before it becomes too abnormal? For instance, losing a dog or cat is questioned by some as not a true loss. Obviously this loss is subjective to the person who loss the animal but it is clear dogs, cats and even horses are companions. They are more like family to many and to some, all they have. Can it be taken farther to include mice, or fish? This is a difficult question when something crosses the line as a pathology and not recognizing the reality of grief in the person. The grief definitely needs respected but what are the lines that should be drawn in regards to abnormal reactions? Individuals can form unhealthy bonds, but those bonds still exist and need respected.
The article, “Why I’m Mourning The Death Of My Hedgehog As Much As Any Dog Or Cat” by Gark Mavigan looks at why grief can be over any type of loss and should be respected. He states.
“Vicky and I had cried enough tears to make a small island out of Northern California’s favorite whitewashed Mexican food chain. We’d only been married a few months, so this was our tragedy honeymoon, our first time facing loss head-on as a team.
“Do you think she’s in heaven? Or hedgie heaven?” I tried to eke a smile out of Vicky’s puffed-up face, though I was legitimately curious.”
Again, grieving over loss is a normal thing. One can grieve over the loss of any pet. The subjective connection is the key. Whether that connection is healthy or not is not the concern initially of the grief counselor, but helping the person adjust to the loss in a proportionate way. It is not so much that certain losses are greater or less, but first acknowledging one’s loss and helping one through it.