Pets and Grief
Have you ever lost a pet? We did, yesterday. We said goodbye to Ms Chook, our clever pet hen, who lost her battle with paralysis. So, we’re feeling sad. As one of our much loved menagerie, we will miss her head-cocked, sharp-eyed, feathery presence. Though she was just a little hen, she was our Ms Chook; a pet who made her mark on the garden, and always said thanks with eggs. So a little bit of grief is spilling over at home and the sadness we’re feeling feels raw.
If you’ve never had a pet, of course, it’s hard to know what it’s like. You could be forgiven for thinking that losing a furry, or feathered companion is no big deal. And perhaps it seems overly sentimental and soppy to grieve over a dying dog or lost cat. But it’s not like that. Experiencing the death of anyone or thing we love triggers grief. So the loss of any of our much loved pets triggers similar emotions. It might be less complex and perhaps not as long-lasting. But it’s still grief.
Mourning the loss of a beloved pet is a matter of reality not soppiness. Grief, like a knife, cuts straight through your composure, until your emotions begin to bleed. Pets and grief might not seem important to some. But losing a simple yet intimate kinship with a dependable pet is still incredibly traumatic.
Naturally, pets have shorter lifespans. So most pet-owners will go through this pain repeatedly. It’s how life is. But it doesn’t soften the loss. If you love your pets, you can’t help but humanize them with your tenderness and affection. It’s our side of the connection. Just like our feelings of grief at the end.
Each time bluntly reminds me that death’s pain and travail are never easy to face. Yet though it looks like a symptom, grief is the start of our healing. It’s neither weak nor inappropriate to experience grief. It comes when it needs to and leaves when need passes. Nobody else has the authority to decide when you should or shouldn’t grieve. So dismiss the dismissive, and respect how you feel. Because, whether it’s the death of one of your much loved pets or maybe the loss of a person you hold tender and dear, you need to grieve the way you do. It’s one of the unique and moving things about being human. And, just as uniquely, it’s our way of facing the reality that, even beyond death, we still care and love.
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