Grieving the Loss of a Pet

by Margaret-Ann Irving of Fur Fettish Farm

People who are not animal lovers do not fully understand how a pet owner is affected when they loose their beloved pet. Quite a number of people have pets that they feel love for that is as strong as an attachment to any human, sometimes stronger. The sheer loyalty of a pet endears them to their human’s heart, some people have no children, so the pet basically fills that void, some peoples children have grown and moved far away making day to day living a lonelier existence.

To be welcomed home after a day away, or first thing on rising in the morning, by the wagging of a tail, a purr and a rub up against your leg, to feel the softness of their fur and see the loyalty and love in their eyes, makes an animal lovers heart skip a beat….then when that pet is gone there is an empty spot both in the pets favourite sleeping spot, and in the owners heart. The owner grieves more deeply than they want to admit, even to themselves, for their faithful friend and roommate.

People who are not natural animal lovers think to themselves…it was just a dog, or just a cat, or maybe even a bird, but a true animal lover will understand it is much more. To love an animal is a life changing experience, an animal that would give his or her life for you should it be challenged or in danger. An animal senses when you are not feeling well, it senses when you are sad and best of all is senses when you are happy and wants to share all these feeling with you.

When someone you know loses a beloved pet, take the time to tell them you feel sorry for their loss, let them have a little cry without judgement, let them tell you a favourite story of this pet. Do not try to talk them into replacing their pet, this is not the answer, when they are ready they will find a new friend, in some cases if they are getting up in years it is not wise to seek out a young pet replacement as it will eventually become someone else’s responsibility to care for.

Children should have a pet of some sort to teach them responsibility and to learn about the death of something you love. I am sure everyone reading this can ponder on a favourite pet from days gone by, the dog that followed you to the end of the lane and met you there every afternoon….and somehow knew just when to be there. The cat that warmed your bed or could catch a squirt of milk all the way across the barn teasingly squeezed by a well aimed cow milker on a cold winter day. Farm kids had ponies, cows, pigs and sometimes even a favourite hen….all that have a special place in their heart.

Animals are to be treated with respect and love, and that love will be given back tenfold, then when it has passed on, only the memory will be left and the grieving process needs to occur as naturally as if it had been a human companion. When I was a little girl I told my Grandmother that if there were no dogs in Heaven I didn’t want to go…the very next Sunday the sermon was about the lion laying with the lamb…..I came up from Sunday School so excited to tell my Grandma that there were going to be animals in Heaven.

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