When Kim Kardashian’s kitten, Mercy, passed away due to a cancer-like illness, she was devastated by the loss.
Writing on her blog, Kim explained how the death completely broke her heart.
Kim was not alone in grief. Each day, thousands of pet owners lose their beloved pets. Unfortunately, many people don’t regard the death of pets as a significant emotional event. But research (and everyday experiences) shows us that pet loss can cause intense grief.
Read on and learn why we should normalize grieving pet loss. This article will help you understand grieving pet owners and help them heal.
5 Reasons Not to Underestimate Grieving Pet Loss
Everyone who’s lost a pet knows how heartbreaking it can be. Here’s why and some suggestions to cope.
Sorrow Due to Pet Loss is Emotionally Devastating
Scientific research shows that grief due to pet loss can be as intense as losing a close friend or family member. Several studies, including one published in the New England Journal of Medicine in October 2017, support this claim. In the study, a pet owner experienced broken heart syndrome due to grief caused by the loss of her pet dog.
But that is not a surprise. Pets play a significant role in our lives, and the death of a beloved animal can create a void and emotional turmoil.
Losing a Pet Leaves a Void in Our Lives
We often talk about taking care of our fur babies. But, pets also take care of us. A pet can add structure to your day, keep you physically active and boost your mental and social well-being. We wake up early to feed them or take them for a bathroom break. Some pets help us exercise, whether that’s through daily walks, taking the dog out on the bike with a dog bike leash, or playing outdoors. They help us socialize with other pet owners and most pets provide companionship.
Losing a pet can cause significant disruption in our daily routines and social lives. Without help and support, the ripple effects caused by the void could adversely affect us. A grieving pet owner might need help reorganizing their routines and daily activities. For example, finding alternative ways to keep exercising.
We Miss Companionship and Feel Lonely
Pets support our emotional well-being. It is the reason why pet loss often triggers emotional pain. Pet owners who live alone with the pet, in particular, would find it hard to come to terms with the loss. Sometimes pet loss could trigger feelings of guilt. For instance, when we could have done something to avert the demise.
Emotional ups and downs are a normal part of grieving pet loss. We can experience sadness, shock, guilt or loneliness when a beloved pet passes on. It is crucial to express ourselves and not hide or feel that somehow the emotions are misplaced. It is a normal reaction to the demise of a loved one and a crucial part of mourning.
It Might Be More Than Losing a Companion
Some animals provide more than companionship. Service animals or therapy animals, for instance, like German Shepherds or Golden Retrievers, give more than companionship. The loss of a service animal or working animal could be devastating to its owners. The death of such an animal would mean the owner has lost a beloved companion and a crucial life-support system.
Coming to terms with the loss could be difficult. They require plenty of support from friends and family. They may even want to consider rescuing a new Golden Retriever or German Shepherd etc.
Support is Crucial for Healing
Despite hitting historically high pet ownership rates, a significant portion of society still downplays the emotional impact of pet loss. As a result, the existing structures for support and comfort do not kick in when a beloved pet passes on. Few friends would call on you to console you when you lose a pet. In the same way, few pet owners ask their employers for time off to grieve their pets.
Worse still, sometimes pet owners hide the grief because they fear expressing it would paint them as either emotionally weak or lacking maturity. They don’t even talk to other people about it. Instead, they try to cope without support.
Grieving dog loss can be intense. Hiding the grief denies grieving pet parents a chance for social support, yet it is crucial. Psychologists suggest that lack of social support could worsen the ill effects of grief, complicating the recovery process.
Summary: Pet Loss Grief
When we lose someone or something important, grieving must happen, and the process is gradual. Underestimating the pain or trying to hide it will only make things worse.
It is time we stopped underestimating grief due to pet loss. By expressing it and providing comfort and support to pet owners, we give room for wholesome and faster healing.