Going through the loss of a pet? It is OK to be sad
There is something about us humans that makes us believe that our lives are worth more than any other species’ we share this world with. No wonder, though, as we often think our own life is more valuable than the next person’s. Especially if that person is far away and his or her death is just another news we hear on TV while we are having dinner with the family.
We are so accustomed to hearing about people dying every day and everywhere and not care about it, but when death knocks on our door or someone we love, we lose our mind. It seems like we talk way too much about death, without really having the conversation.
Like with so many other things in life, it needs to happen to us to be able to understand how it feels to lose someone you love. In the end, empathy is something we develop through life, we are not born with it, aren’t we?
So, if we cannot expect people who have never lost anyone close to understand us when this happens to us, can we expect them to share our grief caused by the loss of a pet, especially if they are not pet owners themselves?
It is a well-known fact that great expectations are what makes us people miserable anyway, so why don’t we just talk to our friends and tell them how we feel and what they can do to help us recover from our pet loss?
The Fear Of Being Misunderstood
I have always wondered when did the whole humankind decide that being sad means you are weak? There is still an organized effort in so many societies to explain, especially to boys, that crying is not something you do in public and that sharing your emotions is only making you more vulnerable.
Going through a loss alone or going through a loss with the support of your loved ones and your environment are two very different stories. “No Man is an Island’’, as John Donne wisely wrote, and we successfully forget every day.
Even though we might not always understand how the other person feels when he or she loses someone close, we try to empathize and show compassion because it’s what society expects us to do. On the other side, when someone we know loses a pet, we just don’t take it serious enough, because again, it is what the society expects us to do and it is this lack of compassion that prevents our friends to share what they are going through and ask for help.
So, the next time your friend or colleague is going through a loss of a pet, invite him/her for a beer and listen to the whole story about how they picked their Harvey when he was just a little ball of fur and about all the adventures they lived together and how empty it feels now when they don’t hear his little paws approaching the bedroom. This is what friends are for anyway, aren’t they?
We Cannot Lose Our Best Friend And Go On As Nothing Happened
Everyone who has ever had a dog knows that these little fellows are more dedicated to loving you than to any other activity that fills their every day. And maybe other animals that we keep as pets today won’t be so clear about it like dogs are, but there is a special bond between you and your pet and you both know it.
There are routines and little things you do together, that can cheer up even the saddest day. We all know owning a pet has many benefits for us, it can relieve stress, anxiety, and depression while interacting with them increases the level of oxytocin in our blood, a hormone that affects our overall health, mental state, weight, and general happiness level. When we cuddle with our pets, this hormone is released in great quantities for both us and our pets.
Now, can we lose all that affection, love and everyday routines with the loss of a pet and go on as nothing happened?
We can’t, and we shouldn’t. We should take our time to accept this change, talk to people who will understand us and come up with a way to say goodbye to our little friends.
We humans have rituals for all the important events in our lives. Depending on where we live and the culture we belong to, these rituals may vary in their form, but they always symbolize something much more than the acts themselves. They help us connect with the unknown, and they bring a certain order to our existence. This is why we need them the most in times of grief. While we have established rituals that help us go through a loss of a person we loved, there are still no generally accepted rituals to help us overcome the loss of a pet we loved.
A walk down the street full of stray dogs in many parts of the world is a clear sign that we are still not at our best behavior when it comes to treating animals. And if we don’t treat them well while they are alive, it is difficult to expect their death will always be taken seriously. But, there are good examples, too. In the USA there are more than 600 pet cemeteries where you can say goodbye to your pet the way you both deserve. A funeral is a ceremony that helps us accept the reality of death, encourages the expression of grief and provides support, which makes it very important for the process of recovery.
We can also establish little rituals of our own after the funeral or have a little something that will remind us of our loyal companion and the great time we had together.
In the end, there is nothing we can do about death and the grief it provokes, but accept it and work our way through it. While we have an established network of support when we lose close people, we are still at the beginning of acknowledging the importance of proper mourning when we lose our pets.
At Pet Memory Shop we are aware of the emptiness you feel when your little companion is no longer with you and we want to help you recover from your loss in the healthiest possible way.