Grieving for a pet

Published on 4 May 2020 at 16:28

The grief that people can feel when a pet dies is still too often underestimated. As a result, people feel misunderstood and therefore mourn in silence. While comfort is needed ...

It is important to validate more often the grief people can experience when their pet dies. Too often there is not enough understanding for this.
People who don't have pets sometimes don't understand how strong the bond between humans and animals can be. Especially if that animal was a very large part of everyday life. A pet is always there for you. In good times and bad. The animal and his or her owner live in the same house and spend a lot of time together and therefore know each other through and through. Often more time is spent with a pet than with friends or with family members. As a result, the bond with a pet is very close. Sometimes even closer than with people. And that is why a pet is a full family member for many of us.

According to studies, people with pets are happier and healthier too. Cuddling with a pet ensures that a substance is released in your brain. This substance is oxytocin. It increases your sense of happiness and decreases feelings of stress. Pets also sense your mood. They know if you're happy. But also if you are sick or sad. They often understand you without a word being said. Unconditional love, friendship, affection and loyalty…

But if that disappears, everything changes. Your whole life changes. No more happy greetings when you come home, no more cuddling, never the sound of little paws on the floor again, never playing together again, no more rituals and routines you had together, and so on… And that hurts. It hurts a lot. It even seems to be the case that in the Netherlands the average grieving process after the death of a dog or cat is about 8.5 months. Not many people know this. Since people usually mourn in silence. This is because others often still underestimate the grief for an animal. It is very painful when after a while people respond with: "Are you still not over that? It was just a dog / cat / bird / rabbit .. Or "Why don't you get a new one?" But it was not “just” a dog / cat / bird / rabbit or any other animal you loved! And you can't just forget or replace him or her. It is not a broken chair! It is an animal of flesh and blood. With its own character and a soul! A friend, a best friend even, a part of the family who gave you unconditional love day after day. Unfortunately, these kinds of comments are still often made. As a result, people no longer dare to talk about their grief. And that’s horrible!

But if only we all stood up for the bond we had with our animal if someone reacts with incomprehension. Maybe we should try to explain how much we loved our animal, how close we were to our animal, how important our animal was to us and how his or her passing has affected us. Loving your pet is definitely not something to be ashamed of! Be proud of the unconditional love between you and your pet and be proud of the fact that he or she contributed so greatly towards making you the person you are today! And tell everybody about that. Hopefully then, little by little, there will be more understanding.
And besides, ... Why should a grieving process for an animal who has passed be differentl than for a person who passed? A grieving process is an adjustment process. Your whole life has changed. You must learn to live without a loved one. Whether that is a human or an animal. There is no difference in that, is there?
How nice would it be if there was more understanding for that ...

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