One of the most insensitive remarks I hear on a regular basis is “it was just a dog” or “it was just a cat.” For those of you who are animal lovers, like me, it is NOT just a pet! He/she/it is a member of my family and loves me unconditionally.
Experiencing grief over the loss of an animal is normal. You have lost a member of your family. Allow yourself (and your family) to grieve and mourn as you would with any other member of your family. Do not feel intimidated by those who will downplay your grief and trivialize the importance of the loss in your life. It is important that we express (not repress) these emotions, just as we would if we lost a human family member.
Dr. Alan Wolfelt gives us “The Pet Lover’s Code: Ten Inalienable Rights After the Death of a Special Companion Animal.” This small pocket-sized card is a helpful reminder to us of the rights we have when we have lost a pet.
The second right on Dr. Wolfelt’s list is “You have the right to talk about your grief”. Identify family or friends who you can safely talk to about your feelings. Share your emotions and talk about your pet.
The fifth right on the list is “You have the right to experience “griefbursts”.” I discuss “Griefbursts” in the my post Griefbursts and You…. These intense emotional outbursts can and will happen at seemingly random moments. You might be driving by the park where you walked every day with your dog and have a “griefburst” by the park. These are a normal part of the mourning process.
As you mourn your pet, never forget that the reason you have these feelings, the reason you are grieving is that you shared a love with your animal. That love was special!
I have these small wallet sized cards available at the funeral home. Please feel free to stop by or contact me if you would like a copy.
Wolfelt, Alan D. The Pet Lover’s Code: Ten Inalienable Rights After the Death of a Special Companion Animal.” Fort Collins, CO: Companion Press. n.d. Print.