Some Americans love their pets as if they were members of the family. With the deep relationship that they share, it can be difficult to handle the death of the family pet. As with the death of a family member which can trigger physical, mental and physiological problems, when a beloved pet dies, the effects are usually the same. This may be surprising to some but with all things considered, it’s not that shocking. Even if you think it may be a little silly to react this way, realizing what the pet meant to you and the family and the joy it brought to your lives will help you to accept your emotions.
A difference between losing a pet and a friend or family member is that the loss of the pet is not usually valued. Based on personal experience, people would ask, “What’s the big deal? It was just a dog!” So, I guess the assumption is that pet loss shouldn’t be as painful as human loss because humans are apparently more important than pets.
However, for someone who truly loved a pet, losing it can feel just as horrible as losing a person close to them. In some cases, losing the pet may be even more devastating than the loss of a human. A reason for this is probably because pets tend to be more endearing. Animals don’t talk and pass judgment or withhold companionship or love and let’s face it, the loss of a companion can be painful.
When others aren’t as understanding KOA of your feelings towards the death of a pet, you should stand up for yourself. This doesn’t mean that you should start arguments but instead be able to validate your feelings by looking outside your circle of friends/family. The problem is that some people may not appreciate your grief because they are unable to value the unwavering loyalty and love that your pet provided or because they themselves don’t own a pet. In this case, you may want to consider seeking the support of others who are or were in your situation as they will be better able to understand the extent of your loss and they may be able to advise you of ways to get through your grief.
One way to help the grieving process is to have a proper good-bye. This may come in the form of a funeral or memorial service. If it was the beloved family pet and you believe that it would help your children say good-bye, it may be a good decision to have a funeral. If you deem funerals a depressing occasion then you may want to honor your pet’s memory in a different way. The final decision should be based on what would be the most helpful to you and your family. For instance, there are other ways of honoring your pet’s memory like through writing a poem or song or making an album with all the memorable pictures you took over the years of your pet.