When Your Pet Dies…

Creative Commons untitled image by Lynette Talbot via Flickr.

When someone close to us dies, our loss is usually met with sympathy, comfort, and offerings of sincere condolence. We are allowed to grieve. We are allowed to cry. We are allowed to experience our emotions.

But talk with pet owners who have had a dog get hit by a car or a cat euthanized and you will hear a different story.

Most people do not understand the depth of their grief. Some even experience the gross insensitivity of a comment like, “Why don’t you just get another pet?”

When we are grieving the loss of a beloved pet, we are actually mourning several losses:

The loss of unconditional love: Our pets provide us with emotional responses that are uninhibited by concern for how their expression appear to others.

Many of our human relationships aren’t that simple. Our pets do not judge our imperfection. They are all-accepting in ways few humans can achieve.

The loss of a protege: Having a pet is like being a parent. We are responsible for another life and go to great lengths to ensure their physical and emotional comfort. The loss of a pet can feel like the loss of a child.

The loss of a “life witness”: Our pets allow us to express parts of ourselves that we may not let other humans see. During tough times, they provide us with security, stability and comfort.

The loss of routines: We must say goodbye to feeding time, walking routes, and calling on our pet when we wanted comfort and love.

It is important and necessary to mourn the loss of your pet! Be patient and kind with yourself. Your losses are real, painful, and evoke a variety of feelings and memories. Processing these feelings has no time frame.

Create your own rituals for your pet. Hold a service at home or in a place special to you.

What would your pet do if he or she found you sad and in pain? Give you love, give you comfort, and stay with you as long as it took.

We can all learn a lesson from our animal friends!

Originally published at stillstandingbykristi.blogspot.com on October 16, 2015.