Dogs are pretty amazing; we form such close bonds with them. They have this unconditional love that we really can’t explain. They are a constant companion, with us through our ups and downs of life. They know when we hurt and offer comfort in their own little sweet way. They know when we are happy and they greet us, tail wagging, waiting to give love and get love. I have been focusing on dogs here but it is the same when we lose any pet. Pets are the only family some people have.
Grieving the loss of a pet can at times be more difficult than grieving the loss of a person because there isn’t the same kind of support available. When a loved one (person) dies we have caring people coming to our aid, ready to help in any way they can. They send flowers, cards, food, love, phone calls, and so much more. People gather and remember with love the one who has passed. This is all part of the healing process. When a pet dies, most people don’t have this same support.
Those of you who do not own pets may not be able to relate to any of this, but please know that while you may not understand what your family member or friend is going through that it is very real and the grieving pet owner needs you.
People often go through the same stages of grief when they lose a pet as they do when they lose a person. They go through denial, sorrow, anger, guilt, even depression as they struggle to find closure. It is difficult enough to go through this when you have support but even more difficult to go through it alone.
You may not know the words to say but here are some things that you can do to help. Listen to them. Let them talk and share stories or share how they are feeling. Take them to a movie or go get a cup of coffee together.
Send a donation to a pet charity in memory of their pet. Offer to help them with a memorial service or funeral if that is what they want to do. Send them a sympathy card. Let them know that you are there for them.
Now, I will tell you that last month when I decided to write this article, I had no idea that I would also be experiencing this. I lost my cat Athena of 14 years last Wednesday after a long illness. I wondered if this subject was too personal right now, too fresh for me to write about and I admit that I struggled with it. What I found out is that writing this article helped me in my own grieving process. I have a wonderful family and friends who are very supportive and they have made a huge difference but all the support in the world can’t take away the hurt.
Remembering that grieving is normal and that healing will take time is helping me get through this and knowing that the greatest Healer of all is God who brings me comfort and peace.
“A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal” Proverbs 12:10 NIV
About the Author
Karen Ritacco is the owner of Cumberland Pet Grooming & Boutique. She worked as a licensed Veterinary Technician for many years prior to opening Cumberland Pet Grooming in 1989. She is an I.S.C.C. Certified Pet Stylist. Her passion is helping pets to be healthy inside and out by offering pet grooming and she also carries natural and holistic foods, supplements, treats, and more. Her salon is located at 300 Buffalo Valley Rd. in Cookeville (corner of S Willow). 931-528-7711 cumberlandpetgrooming.com