The Emotional Impact on Humans on Losing A Pet

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For many pet lovers, losing a pet is like the loss of a loved one. The feeling can be so profound and tragic to the point where some people can’t stop grieving the death of their favorite pet.

Somebody told that “The worst thing about lossing your dog is not having someone there to lick the tears away”

This is usually because of the strong bond between pets and their owners. Because pets like dogs and cats live for an averagely short number of years, owners watch them grow from when they are pups till they die, and can’t do anything about their deaths. This feeling of helplessness at the fate of their companion animal can be devastating for a lot of people. Even though pet owners grieve in different ways when they lose their pets, a common denominator is the excruciatingly painful feeling of sadness that blankets them during this period.

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Pets represent many things for us. For some people, their pet is a companion that snuggles close to them on the bed at night, for others, it is a best friend and guardian angel that protects them from danger at every point in time, while others see them as part of their families and lives. How will it be to come back from the office and your dog that has always been at the door to welcome you for the past seven years is nowhere in sight? It can be devastating for the whole family, especially in a home where the children have become playmates with the pet. The emotional effect on the family can be traumatic, and they will continue to feel the absence of the pet in their lives for a long time to come.

Pets are so understanding, love us unconditionally, and are playful, fiercely loyal, good listeners and companions and so much more.

Types of Loss

Death, though inevitable, is not the only way of losing a pet. Many pets grow old or become ill and die. For some, the end is abrupt as they might lose their lives to motor accidents or injuries. Some pets may be stolen while others get lost and can’t find their way back home. No matter the cause of loss, the pet owner is often left distraught and grieving over their loss.

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Stages of Grief

Many studies have revealed that losing a pet affects the owner emotionally in a way similar to losing a family member. For many centuries, philosophers and psychologists have been studying the emotional effects of losing a companion animal on their human owners. A groundbreaking work on this subject is Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ “On Death and Dying”. In the book, Elizabeth outlined the five stages of grief people feel at the loss of a loved one. They include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is important to know that people grief in different ways and the sequence might vary from person to person.

  • Denial

Denial is a natural part of the grieving process as the bereaved is unable to come to terms with their loss. But it is crucial that people don’t deny they are in grief because expressing your feelings is the best wayto get over the event quickly.

  • Anger

Pet owners become angry over the loss of their companion animals, as they are enraged about their inability to save their pets. They may think of things they could have done to avert the loss, especially if the loss was due to an accident or theft.

  • Bargaining

As part of the grieving process, pet owners may keep asking questions like what if they did so and so, if only they could spend more time with my dog and so on. These issues can envelop the pet owner with a lot of sadness.

  • Depression

This is a typical aspect of the grieving process as the pet owner becomes depressed, and it usually takes some time before they can get it off their chests.

  • Acceptance

This is the final stage of the grieving process where the pet owner finally accepts the reality of losing the pet forever, although the memories will still linger in their hearts. Their feelings at this stage will become normal just like before the loss of the animal. They might be ready to adopt another pet at this stage.

 According to vet professionals and human psychologists, welcoming a new furry pal in your life is somewhat helpful in lessening the exceeding pain.

Seeking comfort

The loss of a pet produces emotions similar to the loss of a family or friend. Just as you would seek solace in other people if you lost a loved one, finding comfort in people who understand and share in our plight can go a long way in ameliorating the feelings of grief that comes with losing a pet. Don’t allow people to judge you about grieving over your pet; it is perfectlynormal and essential for your recovery. You may speak with people who have lost a pet before about how to cope, and there are also many resources online as well as books that can provide comfort and help you pick yourself back up. Online groups and chat rooms are particularly helpful in helping you through this trying period.

Keeping Memories Alive

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You can keep the memories of your pets alive by making portraits of their pictures. You can also cremate them and keep their ashes in urns. Some people bury their pets when they die, and put up a symbolic grave in their memory. You may also do something charitable in your pet’s name or plant a tree in their name.

The most important memories of lost pets will always be in our hearts, as we remember the fun moments we had together over the years.

Giving them a place to live on in our hearts can be the best way of getting over their loss, and moving on with our lives.

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Giannis Sore

Giannis Sore

Giannis is an IT enginner from Athens.
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