Cats, dogs, horses and other cherished pets provide companionship, reduce loneliness and depression, and can ease anxiety. They support our emotional well-being and imbue our actions with meaning. This is why, in addition to emotional pain, we feel aimless and lost in the days and weeks after our pet dies.
“One reason why losing a pet is such a deep loss is because animals' love is so unconditional and accepting,” she said. But it's also because so many aspects of people's lives are impacted. “Every single facet of life is part of the loss,” she explained.
Feeling sad, shocked, or lonely is a normal reaction to the loss of a beloved pet. Exhibiting these feelings doesn't mean you are weak or your feelings are somehow misplaced. It just means that you're mourning the loss of an animal you loved, so you shouldn't feel ashamed.
Psychologist Julie Axelrod has pointed out that the loss of a dog is so painful because owners aren't just losing the pet. It could mean the loss of a source of unconditional love, a primary companion who provides security and comfort, and maybe even a protégé that's been mentored like a child.
Healing from a loss is possible, but it does take time and patience. Even if you're having a particularly hard time with it, resources like counseling and support groups can help you cope when you're going through the five stages of grief.
The grief that comes with losing a beloved pet can be all-consuming. In fact, the pain can actually manifest with physical symptoms that mimic a heart attack.
And yet the death of a family pet can remind us of how vulnerable, precarious and precious life is. It's that process of acceptance and letting go that builds the resilience necessary to navigate an array of life's obstacles. We hone an ability to adapt to the evanescence of our lives with grace and hope.
Humans develop a lasting attachment with their pets, which breaks at the loss of the pet. Regardless of the manner of death, a pet owner may perceive the death as traumatic and experience distress or exhibit posttraumatic stress symptoms.
Here are some examples of what not to say when a pet dies: "Don't cry." Crying is part of the grieving process for many people. "It's just a [dog/cat/etc.]." A comment like this that downplays the loss is mean and thoughtless. You don't know what the pet meant to that person.
The pets that we had to say goodbye to are alive in heaven right now in their spiritual bodies and we will see them again if we accept Jesus as our Savior. Your Pet Is Not Gone Forever.
Feeling sad, shocked, or lonely when you remember your pet is a normal reaction. It means you're in touch with your emotions and there's no reason to feel embarrassed or ashamed when you openly express your grief. Allow yourself to feel your emotions.
The stages are: Shock and Denial; Pain and Guilt; Anger and Bargaining; Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness; Adjustment to Life; Your New Normal; Acceptance and Hope. These are the seven stages of grief that I use in my practice when helping people like you explore their grief and loss stages regarding pet loss.
Acute grief symptoms after the death of a pet can last from one to three months and general symptoms of grief can continue, on average, for six months to a year This grieving period can vary significantly from person to person and can be much longer or shorter.
Pet Loss and Mental Health
Some people experience mental symptoms of grief, which may include confusion, trouble focusing, constant dwelling on your pet, or thinking you see or hear your pet. Loss of an animal companion can also lead to anxiety and depression for some people.
Losing a pet is one of the hardest things you may have to go through. Most of us have a strong bond with our animals and when one passes, it feels like we have lost a family member. In fact, research has shown that losing a pet is just as hard as losing a family member.
You grieve the loss of your dog because you are human and you truly love your dog. Your feelings are real and need to be honored. Express your feelings and talk about the experience of your dog's life and death or loss.
Crying after the death of a pet is a normal and healthy way of grieving. When we experience the death of a pet, the impact is profound, and at times it can be overwhelming. Having to make decisions on behalf of our pet can leave us wondering if we have done the right thing.
The consensus among the Christian denominations seems to be that, as Pope John Paul II said in 1990, animals do have souls. But they don't all agree on whether or not they're welcomed into heaven along with people.
While religious views around the world vary, Christianity has traditionally held that animals have no hope of an afterlife. But Pope John Paul II said in 1990 that animals do have souls and are “as near to God as men are”.
It's not unusual for dogs to grieve the loss of a person they've bonded with who is no longer present. While they might not understand the full extent of human absence, dogs do understand the emotional feeling of missing someone who's no longer a part of their daily lives.
“Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There is also a rainbow that spans over the meadow, which pets can use to cross over to the other side. On the other side of the rainbow bridge, pets are reunited with their owners who have also passed away. This belief offers comfort to many pet owners who are grieving the loss of their beloved animal companion.