Pet Loss Grief and Disenfranchisement

Losing a pet is painful in itself.  A pet, especially a dog, cat or even horse can form a special bond with someone.  Due to their intelligence, emotional bond, and even overall meaning to the person, the loss of a pet for some can be as painful as losing a family member.  This is far from crazy or insane but is a true reality.  This is even more so for individuals with few family or friends left.

Still despite this pain, many also suffer from little support in these types of losses.  The loss is dismissed as insignificant or not equal to other losses.  This type of disenfranchised grief is not respected, supported or mourned by others.  Instead the person is left to grieve alone and even feel stigmatized for feeling sadness over the loss.

To many, pets are family and the loss of a pet is horrific. Unfortunately, many downplay the loss of a pet as not as important as human loss.

 

The article, “Review provides new perspective on grieving the loss of a pet” by Cabi of PsychOrg takes a more in-depth look of this type of disenfranchisement in a discussion with Dr Crossley who works with pet loss grief.  The article discusses the impact of disenfranchisement of pet loss grief but also shows how this type of grief manifests in other types of losses.  It is important, according to Dr Crossley, to help others through any type of loss and not to minimize it.  The article states,

“The researchers say that stigma associated with grieving a loss can complicate the healing process and that counselors would expect to see more clients wanting to discuss their grieving—particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.  They add that while empathy may come more naturally when discussing human loss, there are other types of loss that are not acknowledged or given a similar amount of attention by society.”

Review provides new perspective on grieving the loss of a pet. Cabi. November 25th, 2022. PsychOrg

To review the article, please click here

Commentary

It is increasingly evident that pets have evolved from being mere domestic companions to important members of our households. While their presence has long been theorized to provide comfort and alleviation of mental health, recent research indicates that they offer an even more profound impact on our lives. Pets, in fact, are capable of providing a form of social support which can prove beneficial in terms of helping us cope with stress and anxiety.  In specific, dogs have long been established as a source of companionship and friendship, but their role in human life is far more significant than that of a mere friend. In fact, canine-human relationships have been the focus of an increasing amount of interdisciplinary research, demonstrating the neurobiological and psychological benefits associated with these cross-species interactions.

Disenfranchised Grief

Disenfranchised grief is a concept used to refer to those who experience loss that is not adequately acknowledged, understood, or accepted by society. It has been described as the “unrecognized and unacknowledged” losses that individuals face without any societal support or validation. The lack of recognition in such cases means that there is no social ritual or language for expressing these feelings, leaving them unable to grieve formally.

The term ‘disenfranchised grief’ refers to the process by which individuals are unable to adequately express their grief due to a lack of societal recognition or social support for mourning those who have died. In regards to pets, this concept can be particularly relevant as these relationships may not be understood or recognized by others, leaving the bereaved unable to engage in traditional rituals of grief and healing.

Assisting individuals through pet loss is an invaluable component of psychological welfare, as it can serve to promote a sense of connectedness and resilience within the community. By providing a platform for those affected by pet loss to process their grief, pet loss support groups act as an integral mechanism for mitigating the emotional turmoil that often accompanies such a devastating event. Moreover, the therapeutic benefits of discussing one’s experiences with others who understand can ameliorate feelings of isolation and foster mutual understanding between participants.

Conclusion

In conclusion, disenfranchised grief is a unique experience that should be acknowledged, respected, and openly discussed. It affects individuals in different ways and can range from minor inconveniences to more complex issues. It is important that those experiencing disenfranchised grief are offered support and resources to assist them in processing their emotions. Additionally, it is crucial to recognize the existence of disenfranchised grief as it has significant impacts on psychological health.

Pet loss is an incredibly difficult experience to handle. It can bring a range of emotions, but it is important to remember that it is a part of life and that you are not alone in your grief. To help cope with the pain, reach out to a friend or family member for support, join a pet loss support group, or seek professional counselling. Remembering the impact our beloved pets had on us and our lives in a positive light may help us heal.

It is important to help others process this grief by respecting it.  Pet Loss Grief Support specialists can help individuals better process this loss.  They can help others understand that the loss is important and respected.  If qualified, please review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Counseling Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program in Pet Loss Grief Support is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pet Loss Grief Support.

Additional Resources

“Including Pet Loss in Your Grief Counseling Practice”. Lisa Hutchison, LMHC. Counseling Schools.  Access here

“A Beloved Pet’s Death Can Trigger Deep Grief. Finding Support Can Be Tough”. Cara Murez. Nov. 28, 2022.  US. News.  Access here

“Grieving the Loss of a Pet: Why It’s So Hard and Tips for Coping”. Lily Velez. November 29th, 2022. Veterinarians.org.  Access here

“How to Grieve the Death of a Pet”. Healthessentials. October 4th, 2021. Cleveland Clinic. Access here

Pet Loss Grief is Real and Needs Respected

Losing a pet can be a difficult transition in life.  Many times, individuals dismiss it since it does not involve the loss of a family member.  The reality is pets are family to millions of individuals.  The loss can be as painful as losing anyone.   Due to this dismissal, pet loss in many circles is disenfranchised an ignored. Pet Loss Grief Counseling or support groups can aid many who do not receive the proper support they need in this type of grief.

The article, “Losing a Pet Can Be Just as Hard as Losing a Loved One” by John Grohol looks at the deep seated pain that can result from the loss of a pet.  He points out the numerous ways pet loss can affect someone as much as losing a friend or family member.  He also lists how one can find ways to cope better in the aftermath of pet loss itself.  He states in regards to the lack of understand of pet loss in the following:

“Sadly, many people don’t understand pet loss and the value that pets hold in a person’s life. This can greatly add to a pet owner’s grief. Instead of being comforted and heard by friends or family (what psychologists refer to as validation), the person is told, “It was just a dog (or cat), get over it” or “I’m not sure why you miss that cat (or dog) so much.” These kinds of unintentionally hurtful comments can add to a person’s burden of grief (Messam & Hart, 2019)”

Losing a Pet Can Be Just as Hard as Losing a Loved One.  John Grohol, Psy.D.  PsychCentral. Feb 27th, 2022.

Access article  here

 

Saying goodbye to a pet is like saying good bye to family for millions of people. Pet loss is true grief and loss.

 

Commentary

The loss of a pet can be a difficult and emotionally charged experience. Pets provide us with companionship, love, and support, so when they pass away it can leave us feeling isolated and alone. The grieving process is often complicated by the fact that we may not have had the opportunity to say goodbye or to properly mourn our pet. This can lead to feelings of guilt or regret. It is important to allow yourself time to grieve and to reach out for support if you are struggling.

When a pet dies, it is not uncommon for people to experience a range of emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, and confusion. The grieving process is often described in stages, with the first stage being denial and isolation. This is followed by bargaining, in which the individual tries to make deals with God or other powers in order to bring their pet back. The third stage is depression, characterized by feelings of sadness and despair.  It is important to allow yourself to grieve. It is okay to feel sad and to cry. You should also try to talk about your feelings with friends or family members who will understand what you are going through.

Pet Loss and Disenfranchisement

Individuals who have experienced the loss of a pet may feel disenfrachised, or isolated from others who have not gone through a similar experience. This is because the loss of a pet can be a very significant and personal event, which can be difficult to communicate to others who have not experienced it. Additionally, the grief associated with pet loss can be complicated by the fact that it is often not recognized or validated by society at large.

When a person experiences the loss of a pet, it is important to respect their grief and not try to downplay their feelings. The loss of a pet can be just as devastating as the loss of a human family member, and so it is important to be understanding and supportive. Try to avoid saying things like “it’s just a animal” or “you can always get another one.” This can be very hurtful and dismissive of the person’s feelings.  In many families, pets are considered members of the family. They are given the same love and care as any other member of the family, and are often thought of as part of the family unit. Pets provide companionship and unconditional love, which can be beneficial to both children and adults. In some cases, pets may even help to teach responsibility and empathy.

When an individual experiences the loss of a pet, they may feel a deep sense of grief and sorrow. This grief can be difficult to cope with and may impact different areas of an individual’s life. To help address this grief, there are pet grief support services available. These services can provide individuals with support and resources to help them through their grieving process. By offering pet grief support, individuals can begin to heal from their loss and move forward in their lives.  Sometimes this support can come in the form of individual grief counseling or grief support groups who share similar losses.  This type of counseling is especially important due to the nature of pet loss being dismissed by many as not important or equal to the loss of a family member.  Since support is not given, many have to find support in counseling or within groups with like minded losses.

Conclusion

In conclusion it is important to remember that pet loss is real to many individuals.  Pets are just not mere trinkets or cute furry objects, but play pivotal roles in people’s lives.  They are not merely animals to be disregarded but true family.  Due to this, the loss is real and painful.  It is important not to sweep this type of loss under the rug but to respect it and help others through this painful process of losing a pet.

Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  After completing the six core courses of the program, professionals may then apply for the certification.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pet Loss Grief Support Counseling.

Additional Resources

Pet Loss: A Disenfranchised Grief. Marty Tousley. Grief Healing. February 6th, 2017.  Access article here

Why We Need to Take Pet Loss Seriously. Guy Winch. Scientific American. May 22nd, 2018.  Access article here

Pet Loss: Understanding Disenfranchised Grief, Memorial Use, and Posttraumatic Growth.   Breeeanna Spain, et.al.  A multidisciplinary journal of the interactions between people and other animals.Volume 32, 2019 – Issue 4.  Access article here

Grieving the Loss of a Pet: Why It’s So Hard and Tips for Coping. Villy Valez. Veterinarians.org. March 4th, 2022.  Access article here

 

Pet Loss Grief Support Program Blog on Children and Pet Loss

For many children, their first experience with death is with a pet.  Some parents are fearful to discuss death with their children or try to shield them from it.  It is important not to shield children but to teach them within their comprehension and age, what death is.  Losing a pet is a sad moment but also a learning moment like all loss.  It teaches important life skills of how to adjust to loss with the death of future family, friends and other beloved pets.  Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Los Grief Support Program

It is important to include children about a death of a pet. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program

 

The article, “How To Explain A Pet’s Death To Your Child, Based On Age” by Megan Glossan looks at how to better talk to one’s children within certain age groups regarding pet loss.  She states,

“When our children are young, our primary instinct is to protect them. So, we may think it’s a good idea to use gentle language when explaining a pet’s death to little ones. However, the experts at Family Education say this isn’t the best approach. Instead, they say you still want to use language that is direct and honest because they are actually less ambiguous. When you use words like “death” and “dying,” it’s less confusing and potentially traumatizing than saying your pet “went to sleep” or “stayed at the vet.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pet Loss Grief Support.

Pet Loss Grief Support Certification Blog on Pet Loss Grief

When someone loses a pet, many dismiss it as not important.  This type of disenfranchisement is common for grievers over pet loss.  They are made to feel as if their loss is minimal and not identical to the loss of a human being.  It is important to dismiss this type of shaming and recognize the reality of grief.  Attachment to a pet can be very strong and the pain is very real.  The grief of those who lose pets should be recognized and respected.  Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Certification

Bonds with one pet are as strong as some bonds with people. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Certification

 

The article, “Nobody Can Tell You How to Feel After Losing a Pet” by Lianna Bass defends the emotions of pet owners who lose a pet.  She states,

“There comes a time in every pet owner’s life when you have to say your final goodbye—and, suddenly, the limitless source of love from your furry friend is just…gone. When that happens it can be absolutely devastating. For some people the death of a pet can feel even harder than losing a human loved one. We may not openly talk about pet grief in polite society, but most pet owners know that a pet isn’t just an animal. They’re also a beloved member of the family and a huge source of unconditional love, affection, and comfort.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pet Loss Grief Support.

Pet Loss Grief Support Program Blog on Pets and Ashes

When a dog or any type of pet dies, many retain the ashes and put their pet in a urn.  This is a way to keep the pet’s spirit close and within and also a way for the grieving to commemorate and honor their deceased pet.  It gives a sense of finality but also a sense of presence and peace.  Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program

Keeping the ashes of a pet is a way to remember and honor the pet. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program

 

The article, “The Moment a Dog’s Ashes Turn into a Pet: ‘Never Truly Leave Us’” by Jeff Salle looks at this moment and the power of spreading or keeping the ashes.  He states,

“It’s never easy to lose a pet. Bereavement of our beloved pets can have the same psychological impact as bereavement of other family members. Biscuit’s owners, who own a 12-year-old German Shepherd and Collie mix named Biscuit, captured a magical moment while scattering her ashes that has wowed the internet and given the grieving owners new hope.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Some find solace in releasing ashes at a pet’s favorite place, or keeping the ashes with them, but whatever the way, what matters most is how it helps one honor the pet and grieve in a healthy way.

Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pet Loss Grief Support Counseling.

Pet Loss Grief Support Blog on Healing After Pet Loss

The death of a pet is a pivotal moment in life, no matter how many previous cats or dogs have passed prior.  Each relationship is unique and special and each ending to that relationship is equally painful.  Saying good bye to any friend or family member is difficult and that is why saying goodbye to a pet is equally difficult.  For many, pets are family.  This is not odd or weird but a reality and completely normal.  Animals have pure souls of love and devotion and teach humanity many times the most loyalty.  It is then of no surprise that the loss of a pet can be a very painful moment for someone.

Each pet is unique and loved. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Certification

 

The article, “Lessons from loss: healing after a beloved pet dies” by Elsic Lynn Parini looks at the lessons we learn and the healing we experience after the loss of a pet.  The article states,

“In the case of two of my six cats they fell asleep on my heart and that’s when I fell in love in a very big way,” Glauber remembered of his own adoption experiences. “I now have the immense responsibility for this being… And then, all of a sudden, there’s the opposite feeling: ‘Oh no, man is it going to be hard to say goodbye to this creature.’ You can’t have the one without knowing the other will come… In our wildest fantasy, no being we love should ever die, but we know that is not true. The courage to grieve is the courage to love.”

To review the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Certification and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pet Loss Grief Support.

Pet Loss Grief Support Counseling Program Blog on Time for a New Dog

Death and life are a cycle.  Ironically, joy and grief also coincide with each other.  The death of one loved one can be overlapped with the birth of another.  Pets are also an overlap of death and life.  Many individuals find new dogs or cats to love, while still grieving the loss of another.   Many individuals feel they may be replacing a past dog or cat, but the reality is, one is loving another while never forgetting the other.  It is like having multiple children.  No child replaces another but only enhances one’s life.

For many the decision for a new puppy can be difficult. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program

 

The article, “What I’ve Learned from Loving a New Dog While Grieving Another” by Annette McGivney looks at her journey of caring for a new dog, while still in the acute process of grieving the loss of another.  She states,

“Last April and May, I tried to live without a dog and focus entirely on grieving Sunny, but I soon found myself looking at puppies online at two in the morning. One thing led to another, and in early June I drove to Pueblo, Colorado, to pick up Trudy after a rescue organization reached out to me. My contact there knew I was planning to wait at least a year before bringing another dog into my life, but she convinced me to go for it. “This dog really needs someone who is active and can spend a lot of time with her,” she said. “You would be perfect.” Trudy’s elderly owner lived alone and had dementia. He had kept her isolated in a cement dog run for her entire young life.”

To read the entire article, please click here

The late comedian George Carlin once said, “life is a series of dogs”,  For many pet owners this is true.  It is not a series of replacements but a series of sharing life with new faces and one day hoping to see all those faces again together.

Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief  Support Counseling Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pet Loss Grief Support.

Pet Loss Grief Support Program Blog on Sudden Pet Loss

Like any death, sudden deaths cause extreme distress for people.  Unexpected loss is always painful and can lead to complications.  The same sudden loss of a beloved pet can be a horrible experience.  If one’s dog is hit, or cat is killed, or horse breaks a leg, can be unexpected and painful moments in anyone’s life.  Such sudden death should not be downplayed but respected and heard.

Losing a pet suddenly can cause complicated grief. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program

 

The article, “When death comes suddenly to a pet” by Katie Burns looks at the sudden death of a pet.  She states,

“In other cases, a pet owner might have been managing a pet’s underlying condition, and the pet dies suddenly from a fatal progression of that condition. In Florida, other notable causes of sudden unexpected death—but not unexplained death—are drowning in pools and even death by alligator attack.”

To review the entire article, please click here

There are so many ways our beloved animals can die.  If sudden, it can cause intense trauma and these feelings should not be kept in.  Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a certification in Pet Loss Grief Support.

Pet Loss Grief Support Certification Blog on Prolonged Grief Disorder in Pet Loss

Prolonged grief disorder is a form of complicated grief.  The grief is not resolved.  While slightly different than depression, prolonged grief disorders disrupts the lives of individuals and prevents them from properly adjusting to the loss.   Pet owners can also face this type of disorder over the loss of a pet.

Pet loss can have complications for people in the grieving process. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Certification

 

The article, “Can Bereaved Pet Owners Suffer Prolonged Grief Disorder?” by Hal Herzog, PhD, looks at how complication grief does not discriminate between pet loss and human loss.  He states,

“According to the DSM, prolonged grief disorder only occurs in response to “the death of a person who was close to the bereaved.” Bereaved pet owners are omitted. Yet, in a 2020 study of 395 functionally impaired bereaved pet owners published in the journal Psychiatry Research, Sherman Lee found that the patterns of their symptoms were the same as in individuals suffering prolonged grief disorder in response to the loss of a human companion.”

To review the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Certification and see if it meets your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pet Loss Grief Support.

Pet Loss Grief Support Blog on the Pet Loss is True Loss

For too long the stigma of grieving a pet as if losing a family member was looked upon as abnormal.  This view is changing now and the grief of losing a pet is becoming more normally accepted as a significant loss.  Too many times in the past it was marginalized as something small but the reality is pets are family and a loss of a pet is a painful loss.

The loss of a pet is a true loss. Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program and see if it meets your goals

 

The article, “Why it’s time to normalise grieving the loss of a pet” by Evalyn Lewin looks at why it is time to no longer disenfranchise pet loss.  She states,

“If your loved one is grieving the loss of their pet, Magri recommends acknowledging their pain and validating their feelings. If you’re the one struggling after the loss of a pet, reach out to people in similar situations by joining Facebook pages dedicated to pet loss, or by attending support groups or counselling. And if you’re worried about your mental health, talk to your GP.”

To read the entire article, please click here

Please also review AIHCP’s Pet Loss Grief Support Program and see if it matches your academic and professional goals.  The program is online and independent study and open to qualified professionals seeking a four year certification in Pet Loss Grief Support.