My heart and thoughts go out to all pet owners that have lost a devoted pet.
Even though I have dealt with the death of my own beloved pets, it still is hard for me to swallow that my pet currently in my life will eventually pass on and I will have to live without my special furry friend. Even just thinking about it, I am devastated. I know that I am not alone. For most pet owners, losing a pet is incredibly heartbreaking. They have lost a member of their family. They need time to heal just as if a person had passed away.
In the past several months, the loss of a pet has weighed heavily on many pet owners’ minds. With the massive pet food recalls leading to the deaths of thousands of cats and dogs, we all grieved and still grieve for those who lost an innocent pet.
Just this weekend, I was reminded of how a death of a pet can trigger so many emotions. The story of the man who pleaded guilty to murdering his parents with an ax has been on the news. The man exploded with rage when his mother laughed after his pet cat died. Because she laughed at the cat’s death, he believed that his mother had poisoned his cat. Even though the man seemed to have many unresolved childhood issues with his parents, it is believed that the triggering event was his mother’s reaction to his hurt and grief over the loss of his cat.
This made me think of how the death of a pet is viewed in society. For pet owners, we understand and empathize when we hear that someone has lost a pet. But, how about non-pet owners? Do some laugh at us and question why would we cry over “just a cat” or “just a dog”? Would the deaths of thousands of pets due to the pet food recalls been more significant if they had been the deaths of children or humans? Does the majority of the society still mock the importance we put on pets?
A man in China was ridiculed by local residents when he spent $13,000 on a funeral for his beloved dog. All he wanted to do was show his love and respect for his loyal best friend.
In Kentucky, there is controversy over a pet being buried in a cemetery partly because people don’t want to be buried next to a dog — as well as a heated debate over the dog’s name.
Regardless over what society may think, we do feel pain when our pets pass on. We also must have a healing process for the loss of our pets.
Here are some suggestions for coping with a death of a pet:
- Take care of your body. Make sure to eat even if you may not feel like it, and get enough sleep.
- Talk to people who can empathize with your grief. Consistent interaction and sharing with those you feel comfortable around will be most beneficial. Our Forums offers an area for mourning pet parents.
- Maintain structure in your life by continuing to do the activities you did before the loss. Structure will help your regain your bearings.
- Perform a ritual when you feel the time is right. Some have funerals at a pet cemetery or memorials with friends and family. Others may create a small shrine for a brief time.
- Allow yourself to feel sadness and loss. This is normal and everyone shows their grief differently.