The death of a pet is never an easy time. Whether it is an older animal, who may have been a part of the family longer than most of the furniture and some of the children, or a pet who has been with you for only a few years, the loss can be truly traumatic. And if the end comes through a conscious decision for euthanasia, other emotions become entangled with the basic sense of loss. Once it’s over, you may prefer to think that the experience is behind you. Unfortunately, it is not.
Grief is the normal response to any important loss in life. It occurs regardless of whether death followed a prolonged illness, or a sudden accident. Grieving people experience both physical and emotional traumas as they try to adapt to the upheaval in their lives brought about by the loss.
Psychologists have long recognized that the grief suffered by pet owners after their pet dies is the same as that experienced after the death of a person. The death of a pet means the loss of a non-judgmental love source. There is no longer anything for the pet owner to nurture and care for. Furthermore, the owner looses his or her contact with “the natural world.” These feelings can be particularly intense for the elderly, single people and childless couples,( for whom the pet also is a child substitute).
There will be a hole in your household and in your life for a while, and for the first part of that “while” the hole may seem huge. There ARE ways to fill the gap. However, the loss itself is not something you can simply ignore, assuming that your world will adjust itself. Instead, you must deal with that something, just as you would deal with the loss of any other good friend. Yes, it is a different kind of relationship, but to behave otherwise is to try and change your attitude in mid-stride. You cannot expect yourself to think of your pet as a friend and then to dismiss those feelings as disposable because THIS friend happened to be an animal. It is NOT silly to miss your pet, and it is NOT overly sentimental to grieve
Many people are surprised at the depth of feelings they experience following the death of their pet. The truth is that a loved pet is more than just a companion, he is a valued member of the family and part of your everyday life. his loss can leave a void which may be just as big as that left following the death of a human friend or relative.
- Children and pet loss
- Do pets grieve?
- Elderly owners and pet loss
- Explaining pet death to children
- Grieving the loss of a pet
- Stages of grief