People can say some very insensitive things without thinking or because they don’t understand. Have you ever heard, “You need to get over it,” “it’s just a dog.” Or “it’s just a cat?” Well, not true. Wrong.
Many people consider their dog, cat, horse, or other pet to be part of the family and grieve deeply when that pet dies. We get very attached to our pets. They are affectionate, good company, funny, even entertaining, empathetic, soothing to have around. We love them. So when they die, it’s awful.
My sister lost two sweet dogs in a single year, last year. So sad and that created a big void in daily life. Photo below of her darling dog Stella. The other dog who died was a little black and white dog, Tommy. Eventually she got another puppy, Vinny. Not to “replace” the others but just to bring a dog back in the home, and to rescue a darling from the animal shelter. So look at the shelters, there are so many nice ones needing a home.
Remember, we need to take care of our pets. Play with them, take them on walks, feed them, fresh water, give them affection. They follow us around and want attention. And so they help make the home a welcoming and pleasant place.
Even if you are home alone, you are never alone because your pets are there. And also pets are very good for children—fun and company, and teach kids responsibility. And family members who visit always enjoy giving a few pets.
So when your relative or friend loses a pet, be aware they are grieving, and may even have long term grief. That’s the kind of grief that doesn’t go away. It remains for years and years. Please don’t say those awful cliches, just say you are sorry and understand they are sad.
So, it is NOT “just a dog,” “just a cat.” He/she is a buddy who died and is gone. For many it’s like a family member who is gone, and they miss their buddy. Just being aware of this may help your friend or family member.
Susan Anderson-Khleif has a Ph.D in Family Sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College, and is a retired Motorola Executive. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. See her blog on grief and healing at longtermgrief.tumblr.com
The College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University offers a free phone-based pet loss hotline for pet loss support, death of a pet, dying pet. Staffed by veterinary students, trained by a licensed therapist, as well as a pet memorial site where pet owners can post stories and photos in memory of their pets.
Pet loss breaks hearts. Take time today to let someone struggling with the death of a beloved pet know you care, and that they aren't alone. Reach out and help heal a heart.
The time has come. You have made your decision and now it’s time for your loving pet to transition from our physical plane to the rainbow bridge. Your body is going through what is similar to shock as it takes the next steps in saying goodbye. You can never be prepared for a moment like this. All you can do is the best that you can. Be gentle with yourself, be kind and know that you are doing this out of love knowing this is one of the most unselfish things you can do to honour your beloved pet.
I’m so sorry for what you are feeling right now. I know it’s hard and it’s one of the most challenging things you have ever experienced. You are not alone. As my heart connects with yours, I’d like to share with you support and guidance.
An animal’s perspective:
Having animals in my life from a very young age, I have come to learn that these pets I called friends, were actually my teachers and had many lessons to share with me. I’ve come to learn that animals and humans are two very different species in how we sense things, handle experiences and live our lives. Humans anticipate the future; animals are in “the now”. They don’t’ worry about their upcoming business meeting and for the most part, remain present. A dog for example can smell things we can’t. Their sniffing sense is much more acute and advanced than a human’s ever will be. An animal’s instincts are beyond everything we think we know about.
When it comes to death and dying, we as humans tend to fear it. And in the strong bonds and relationships we have with our pets, we can imagine that they feel the same way as we do. If we fear death, we automatically think out pets do as well. However in essence, do they really?
Living on a hobby farm for the first 23 years of my life, I saw many of our pets die. One thing I learned from them was that even in death, they didn’t show fear like a human would. I saw something else. I saw acceptance. I never witnessed any animal wishing they could have medication or want help from a different doctor. Those are human emotions. These teachers, our animal friends, have much to share and if we are open to being their student, we will learn a lifetime of knowledge just from the short time we have with them.
Understanding how an animal’s perspective of death is different than a human’s perspective does not make the loss we feel for our pet any easier. It’s still painful and difficult and a process we must endure. It does however change the framework of their death and I choose to believe that no matter how our loving pets leave this earth, they are now at peace and will be there waiting for us when it’s our time to pass. Just like the rainbow bridge, our pets roam free, play and run while waiting for us to meet up once again. And as they have no sense of time, waiting for us to re-join them will feel to them like the blink of an eye. Oh what a wondrous reunion that will be!
A letter from your pet, with love:
I am ready to return home to a place of love. It is my time to say goodbye and I know by the way you are acting, you are feeling very sad.
Realizing what it’s like to live a human life and experience the thoughts and emotions you confront brings me to sending you this message.
I am at peace. I understand and respect the decision you have made. Life is about learning and I know this is huge lesson.
I want you to know that I never tired of watching you and being by your side. When you smiled, my energy changed. It lifted me up and that was my life, my work. And I hope you know, I love all those things and I thank you.
The life of a human and the life of an animal are very different. We are never here for long; it’s never long enough. I was never meant to share all of your life, only a small portion. I came when I was needed and I am leaving, as it’s my time. Death is necessary and is part of the definition of what life is all about.
You have much work to do still while you are there. And I ask you; will you honour me and do what you can to make your life and the lives of other animals the best they can be? My essence is of love and I thank you for the love you gave to me. That love still lives strong.
Thank you dear friend. Until we meet again…
The love from a pet is forever. I give thanks to the animals that have brought us together. And I share this with you in the hopes that will bring you some comfort in knowing that you are not alone. I stand beside you unconditionally.
About the writer: Marybeth Haines empowers people to make choices that promote action, personal growth and healing. She is an Author, Speaker, Consultant and Grief Specialist from Ontario, Canada. She is a wife, sister, daughter and a mother to her furry children with tails and whiskers. Marybeth is the author of The Power of Pets – 7 Effective Tools To Heal From Pet Loss, From Empty To Empowered – A Journey To Healing From Unexpected Pet Loss and I Miss My Furry Friend - My Feel Better Book With Kamilla and Magrau. In 2012, she founded the “I Believe In The Power of Pets” movement. Her focus is teaching proven step by step strategies in reinforcing the bond and connection between pets and people.
Her books are available on Amazon.com or via her website. For a limited time, Marybeth is giving away FREE copies of her book The Power of Pets at: www.authormarybethhaines.com . There is no obligation or anything to buy when receiving this book. All that is required is a request and your book will be electronically delivered to you right away.
Pet Perennials thanks Marybeth Haines for sharing her wisdom and experience with pet loss in order to help others cope with the loss of their pets. If the information she's provided has helped you, please share with friends and visit Marybeth's website for additional information.
PetPerennials.com is healing hearts and our land, one product at a time.