If I’m honest, I’d tell you that until we lost Pablo, I was very skeptical about those who I had seen grieving the loss of a pet for a long time. I had lost pets before and have grieved, but nothing prepared me for continuing to grieve for him so deeply a year later. This is perhaps, because José had carefully selected him, raised him from a puppy and gave him so much of love. But also, because he was so lovable, expressive and so dependent on us.
Grieving The Loss Of A Pet
With Pablo’s loss came other emotions – most noticeably, guilt. Had we done enough for him? Could we have put him out the terrible pain he suffered in the last two days? And was it alright for us to mourn the loss of a dog when so many people around us were losing loved ones to Covid?
Is it normal to be constantly moved to tears and feel such a sense of loss at the passing of a pet? The answer is yes. One study found that 93 percent of humans reported disruption in daily functioning, such as trouble sleeping or loss of appetite, after losing an animal. Over 50 percent surveyed had reduced their social activities, and 45 percent had job-related difficulties. Other studies have documented people’s loss of motivation as well as increased stress, anxiety, worry, and depression.
What Have I Learned?
What I learned was most important about the grief I feel is that I need to remind myself that it is normal and I need not feel any guilt about this. I have learned that there’s no point suppressing the grief.
Instead, I’ve learned to welcome the tears, the sense of loss, to look at his pictures, to mention his name often, to recall his madness and naughtiness, and to know that my grief is a sign of my love for him.
I have learned that we can channel our loss and love into doing something positive and constructive.
We honour his memory by fighting for and feeding and taking care of some of the community dogs (stray dogs who’ve taken residence in our housing complex). If anything, for Pablo, all dogs were his friends and we remember and honour that.
Are you grieving the loss of a pet? How do you cope?
Today I am linking up with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday prompt – ‘important’