“Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak / Whispers the o’er-fraught heart and bids
Grief and sorrow may be part of the human condition, but there are actual changes to our brain
that occurs during these times. For many, the loss of a pet can cause them to spiral into longer
term grieving processes and this can create heightened levels of anxiety that actually alter our
behavior and our reactions. While we may try to address the extreme emotions that we feel at the
passing of a beloved pet through pet memorials, services with pet cremation and even dog
funerals, these are momentary methods to try to achieve a sense of closure that do not address the
roller coaster of feelings that are happening.
The science of neurogenesis has discovered that the brain of the adult continues to produce new
neurons in some of the brain areas. The hippocampus portion of the brain is critical for memory
and learning and is actually linked to mood and emotion. These researchers have discovered that
while there are some activities that boost the hippocampus activity in neurogenesis, sadness and
grieving can spiral into depression and that can cause a halt to the neurogenesis. Repeated
depression episodes can cause some of the brain areas to shrink.
“Activity—any activity—helps against sadness. You take up life’s reins again. When you do
something, you engage your brain and deprive it of the opportunity to go down thought’s
-STEFAN KLEIN,THE SCIENCE OF HAPPINESS
When we remain in the state of grief and sorrow we are overwhelmed with emotions. This can
take its toll on our daily activities and our focus. Loss support group counselors advise attendees
to pay attention to the little things to avoid problems. These can include everything from being
aware of your body with mindfulness before you stand up to avoid falling to giving extra
attention in your driving habits to other cars and pedestrians. Automotive insurance companies
have statistics that have shown that after a loss, there is an increase in auto accidents for those
that are grieving.
While many cultures seem to have maintained an attitude that those that are grieving would
rather be left alone, this is not only incorrect, but can be harmful to the individual experiencing
their sorrow. Having the right kind of companionship around you can help to uplift and reduce
the potential of long term depression. They encourage both exercise and companionship as the
key elements to help those that are grieving get through the process. This means that when you
have lost a beloved pet, make sure that you surround yourself with those individuals that
completely understand what you are going through. Avoid people that are discouraging or
complaining that you are dragging out the process. There is never any time limit on grief and it is
a very personal thing.
High levels of stress hormones over long periods of time can lead people into a state of
depression. To counteract the hormones and help towards recovery, many researchers have found
that even simple touch by loved ones can help. This is especially beneficial for those that feel
that they simply can’t talk about their grief experience.