Coping with grief associated with the death of a pet
by Don Harold Lawrence
One of the most difficult aspects of grief resulting from losing a pet is that many persons in society view the loss of an animal as “insignificant.” In other words, our grief over the loss of a pet that we love--and with whom we have closely bonded over the years-- is viewed an “unimportant.”
Thus, we have a genuine grief experience which is not recognized or validated by a certain segment of society. The death of a pet is only one of the many losses which society refuses to recognize. However,
The death of a pet that we love can be one of life’s most traumatic experiences.
There is a unique relationship between people and their pets, and thus, a special kind of bereavement results when the death of an animal occurs. The human-pet bond involves unconditional acceptance. Pets are loyal and devoted. Because they are so dependent upon their owners, they are like children whom we nurture. However, whereas children grow up, pets never do, and within these human-animal relationships an attachment is formed that is unparalleled.
This means that our pet becomes an integral part of our life, and when they die, the loss can be devastating, especially when the grief is not appreciated or valued by society.
One aspect of the work grief recovery involves assisting those who are bereaved due to the loss of a pet whom they love. In an atmosphere of understanding and acceptance, this kind of grief is validated. The bereaved individual is encouraged to express his or her grief.
There may be a strong sense of guilt due to the dependent nature of the relationship, especially if euthanasia is involved. Denial and fantasy may be present in the grief experience if the bereaved person did not “ see “ the animal die.
A few things which help persons deal effectively with the loss of a pet are holding the animal and talking our one’s feelings and
Memorializing their pet through poems, photographs and personal stories. Telling the story of the animals life and one’s experiences with the animal not only helps to resolve the grief, but it enables
The bereaved person to enjoy the companionship of pets in the future.
Helpful resources are:
PET LOSS and HUMAN BEREAVEMENT
WHEN YOUR PET DIES
By Quackenbush and Blickman
PET LOSS SUPPOET HOTLINE
Copied with permission
There is a bridge connecting Heaven & Earth
It is called the Rainbow Bridge because of it’s many colors
Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows
Hills & valleys with lush green grass.
When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this place.
There is always food & water & warm spring weather.
The old & frail animals are young again. Those who are maimed
& hurt are made whole again, just as we remember from days gone by.
There is only one thing missing. They are not with their special
Person who loved them on Earth & had to be left behind on Earth.
So, they run & play until the day comes when one suddenly stops--
& looks up!! Their bright eyes are staring! The nose twitches!
The ears are up! Their eager body begins to quiver!
Suddenly, one runs from the group--you have been spotted!
When you & your special friend meet again, you cling together in joyous reunion. Your face is kissed again & again---your hands again caress
Your beloved pet. You look once more into the adoring eyes of your trusting pet--so long absent from your life but never from your heart.
You cross the Rainbow Bridge--together--never again to be separated