Our companion animals mean different things to different people. Often they take on the role of best friend and confidant; They may be a substitute child; They are often assistance dogs that are not just friends but help us cope with the outside world; And sometimes they’re working dogs.
They provide us with unconditional love. They don’t judge us. They don’t expect anything in return except love and they forgive us for a raised voice for a forgotten walk or for a ‘bad hair day’. Many people still believe that when we lose a companion animal we’ll be ok in a day or so. People may tell us ‘it’s only an animal’ and ‘you can just get another one to replace it’ ‘there’s plenty of good dogs needing homes out there’.
Despite the special relationships we have with our animals some people will undervalue the importance of them in our lives and under value our relationships with them. It is important to understand that the human – animal bond can be as strong as any relationship, that it is unique and should be respected. Many people will find that when they lose their animal that they may not have a support group surrounding them as their grief is not respected by those people around them.
We all grieve differently, we may feel guilt, anger, sadness depression, some people will openly cry. Others like to be alone. Others like to be with their remaining animals and some people need to get away from their memories for a little while. Which ever way we grieve there is no right or wrong. There are no rules in grief. Tt does not take X amount of days to get through the pain. For some it may take a week for others it may take years. One day you might be happy the next day you might feel sad or angry again. It’s important to take each day and each feeling as it comes and not to expect too much from your self.
This section is to help you with some immediate considerations such as:
- Can I stay with my pet when he is being euthanised?
- Rituals and ceremonies
- Children and pets
- My other pets are not themselves. Is it possible they too are grieving?
- The elderly and their pets
- Support groups and counceling
- Supporting someone in their grief
- Is it time to get a new companion animal?
The articles are sourced from Christie Reeves-Tate.
Crenshaw, D.A. 2001. The Disenfranchised Grief of Children. In Disenfranchised Grief: New Directions, Challenges & Strategies for Practice. Ed Doka, L. Research Press: Illinoise. Pp293-305
Meyers, B. (2002) Disenfranchised Grief and the loss of an Animal Companion. In Doka, K.J. (ed) Disenfranchised Grief : New Directions, Challenges, and Strategies for Practice. Research Press: Illinois. Pp251-264
Lagoni, L. & Butler, C. (1994) Stress in Hetts, S (ed) The Human-Animal Bond and Grief W.B Saunders Company. Pp292-330