Pet Loss vs. Human Loss – The Shocking Depths of Grieving for a Pet
Many pet owners are shocked by the tremendous loss and grief that hits them after the death of a pet. For many people, the loss of a cat or dog can be more overwhelming and heart wrenching than the loss of a best friend, grandparent, sibling, or other beloved human. Some feel guilty because it feels morally unacceptable to grieve pet loss more than they grieve human loss.
If you are in this position right now, allow the fact that millions of others experience the same amount of grievance for their pets to ease your guilt. This is actually completely normal when you think about the role your pet played in your life.
Grieving for a pet is very similar, if not the same thing, as grieving for a spouse or a child. You are grieving the loss of a being that shared your home, slept in your bed, and accepted you unconditionally. You are grieving a being that played an integral part of your daily life, and which played a tremendous role in your happiness.
You are not grieving someone who you occasionally met up with for drinks or chatted with through Facebook. Your pet was an element f your daily life that made you happy and that you depended on in many ways. When that pet is removed, it forces you to rearrange your entire life. You have to change the little things, such as what you do when you walk in the door from a long day at work and your dog is not there to run and greet you with licks and a wagging tail. How many of your beloved humans do that for you on a daily basis?
You also have to change the big things, such as doing something else with your Saturdays now your dog is not there for your weekly hike or trip to the dog park. It may also mean finding a new source of warmth now that the cat is not there to curl up on your lap while you watch television. These are things that have been a part of your life routine for many years, and dealing with pet loss means rearranging these parts of your daily life.
Most people do not share as many intimate moments with their human loved ones as they do with their pets. Their human loved ones are sorely missed once a death is experienced, but their departures do not require you to rearrange so many aspects of your daily life. Grieving for a pet is far more personal in this way, and there are so many holes left in your life that you are reminded of a pet loss over and over on a daily basis.
It is perfectly normal to grieve the loss of a pet to a greater extent than you grieve the loss of a human you loved. Cut yourself some slack and realize the level of intimacy and dependency that you shared with your pet. The more holes that are left in your life, the harder it will be to move forward and accept the loss.