Grieving the loss of a pet can be devastating. However, our grief can be complicated by the lack of compassion and understanding from people at times. They often compare the grief of a pet to that of a human. Our pain then, is often minimized, dismissed and misunderstood. This reaction by others can sometimes make the grieving process that much more difficult.
Some people wonder if grieving the death of their pet is even rational or normal. Well I can tell you that it’s completely rational and completely normal. I’ve actually seen more clients in therapy over the death of their pet than the death of a human.
We must also consider the very special and unique bond we have with our pets that often doesn’t exist in our relationships with people. I actually want to say it doesn’t exist at all but I’ll leave room for the existence of some relationships with people.
In explaining this, my goal is to be able to rationalize and normalize the grief of a pet. The relationship with our pets is truly the epitome of unconditional love. There are no strings attached. There’s no ulterior motive. They just love us. It’s that simple. They love us as we are and without judgment.
Now think of our relationships with people. Does a relationship exist that is even close to this? The only relationship I can think of is that of a parent and child. Parents and children usually love each other unconditionally. However, there are strings attached and there’s definitely judgment… on both parts. The strength and intensity of the unconditional love between a parent and child can fluctuate based upon the outcome of these variables. These variables don’t exist with our pets. Our pets are there when everyone else leaves. They see the parts of us that no one else sees and they love us just the same.
We can spoil them and love on them endlessly. They don’t ever want their independence or freedom. My cocker spaniel never asked me for money or stayed out past curfew.
Now, given this bond that I’ve just described… Why then wouldn’t it be acceptable to grieve the loss of this relationship? In fact, some people grieve more deeply for their pets than they do their human loved ones. Yet there is no bereavement time that we can take
off of work. There is no celebration of life, funeral, support groups, and other support services.
But we can’t wait for someone to give us permission to grieve. We have to give ourselves permission to grieve. Trust the bond you shared with your pet. You are the only one who can determine if that soul was important enough to you to grieve. You’re the only one who can determine if this soul was worthy enough in life to honor in death. If you say yes to both of these statements, then there’s only one option left… to go through the grieving process and know that you’re definitely not alone.
For more self-help education, guided exercises and meditations check out these resources:
Free Spirit's Therapy Homework- https://www.freespiritcoaching.org/therapyhomework
Dr. Traci Moreno on Insight Timer- https://insighttimer.com/DrTraci
Free Spirit's YouTube Channel- https://www.youtube.com/@freespiritcoaching