Have you ever seen a friend or neighbour upset by the death of a pet? If you have never owned or plan to own a pet, have you been surprised to see someone cry? In fact, such a response is just as normal as when a close friend or loved one dies.
Here is what you need to know to help someone who mourns the death of a pet because there is great grief that can last a long time.
1. As with the death of a friend or family member (and most animals are considered to be members of the family), grief is to be expected due to the degree of emotional investment in the child. the object of loss. Emotional investment means attention and concern; it is love in-depth. Only mourning knows the depth of this investment. Sometimes the grief of a pet is more intense than the grief associated with the death of a loved one.
2. Give permission to show emotion with something you say or do. Hug the person and say, “It must be very painful” or “I’m really sorry to hear that”. Use the name of the animal when you can. Recognize the closeness of the relationship between the animal and the bereaved and encourage them to talk about the illness or what led to the death.
3. Offer to be useful in one way or another. Bring food home, if necessary. Go with the owner to the pet cemetery. Provide transportation. Simply showing that you are aware of the impact of the death will be of great help to your friend.
4. Review the relationship the person had with the pet in a gentle and caring manner. Ask questions about the length of the animal in the family and where it came from. Encourage storytelling involving what the animal did or did not do. All of this will give you a better idea of what the loss means to the person.
5. Mourning the death of a beloved animal is just as individual as mourning the death of a family member. There will be a wide range of differences, some demonstrative others very reserved. Do not judge the depth of grief by external appearances. Respect all expressions of grief. Some people will hide their grief for fear that others will ridicule their behavior. Be sure to include children in learning about mourning and death through the death of the animal.
6. Keep in mind, especially with the elderly living alone, some pets may be the person’s only family. Thus, the animal is one of the rare or perhaps the only one whose mourning has received unconditional love.
7. If other losses have preceded the death of an animal, this can make the death of the animal more difficult to manage. For example, if a pet owner has had to stop driving, has had a debilitating illness, has seen his friends walk away, or has experienced the death of a loved one, these or other losses can easily lead to mourning overload. The bereaved will especially need a nurturing and understanding community during this period of transition.
8. Guilt, anger or depression can also be associated with the loss of pets. Guilt is the most common reaction, especially if the owner has to have the animal euthanized, was not there when the animal died or only recognized the disease in later stages.
9. Help create or suggest a memorial. A picture, toy or necklace can be used to honor or remember the animal. An object belonging to the animal can be enclosed in lucite or placed on an easily visible shelf.
Pets no longer play a key role in homes across the country. Rather, they came to fulfill the role of companion, support and old friend. Therefore, the death of a pet can become a major grieving experience for young and old alike. Become aware of the role played by the animal in the life of the family and you will be better equipped to provide continuous support and appropriate memories that will be extremely useful in the months to come.