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.
The loss of a pet can be very traumatic. Pets are family and the loss of a pet can be as traumatic as losing a family member. Unfortunately, many individuals mock this type of loss and mock it as insignificant. This is unfortunate and very untrue. The loss of a pet needs to be respected as a significant loss.
The article, “Here’s How the Death of a Pet Can Be Just as Traumatic as Other Forms of Grief” by Philip Ellis states,
“So often, when an animal companion dies and the human partner is bereft, well-meaning people say things such as: ‘it’s only a dog,’ ‘come on, get over it,’ ‘you can always get another one,’ ‘they’re better off,’ ‘be strong,’ ‘you’re crying too much,’ ‘get a life.’ And so the grief-stricken suffer again.”
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.
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.
The article, Why We Need to Take Pet Loss Seriously, by Guy Winch states,
“Doug’s amateur soccer team had just lost their playoff game and he needed a pick-me-up. So he decided to stop by the local animal shelter on his way home. He was by no means looking to adopt an animal but puppies always put a smile on his face.”
Sad article on the rainbow bridge and when our loved pets cross over to the next life
The article, Paws for Thought | When a pet crosses that rainbow bridge, by Caitlin Thomson states,
“Grief is a topic that is rarely discussed and usually avoided. Unfortunately, grief is often experienced when you have pets as it is highly likely that you’ll outlive them, but it is never easy when the time comes.”
Good article on pet loss grief and how tears can be so easy for the loss of a pet. Some even have an easier time grieving for a pet than some humans. This is easy to understand because many pets are so pure and innocent.
The article, Tears for pets often easier than for humans, by Alex Lo states
“The queen has mourned every one of her corgis over the years, but she has been more upset about Willow’s death than any of them,” a Buckingham Palace staff member was quoted as saying.
I don’t mean to be callous. The fact is that people can be more emotionally attached to their pets than close relatives.”