Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Post From Guest Blogger Helen Hobbs (Pets At Peace)


Pet Loss and Bereavement

Are you or a family member having difficulty in accepting the loss of your pet and cannot resolve feelings of grief and sorrow?

Little has been known about pet bereavement until recently and therefore it is not surprising that so many people find the pain and confusion of their loss so disturbing. This is often made worse by the lack of understanding from those who believe the loss means nothing and the fact that we live in a society where thinking or speaking about death is usually avoided. Most people don't understand how someone can grieve so heavily over the death of a pet. Your loss is easily dismissed in their minds ("Good grief, it's just a cat"). Many pet owners still hide their grief from those who have no understanding or sensitivity to their problem. Grief makes people uncomfortable, most people want to help, but simply don’t know how.

Pet owners have a strong emotional and social relationship with a pet. Caregivers celebrate their pets' birthdays, confide in their animals, and carry pictures of them in their wallets. So when a beloved pet dies, it's not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of their sorrow. The death of that pet can elicit strong feelings that often parallel the grief from the loss of a human companion. The bonding between owner and pet often involves a more private and personal side of our nature than we would entrust to a human. The bond also intensifies because we know our time with them is so short compared to our own lives.

The grieving process is the same as for humans with a mix of feelings starting with shock and denial, and moving on to emotional pain and eventual acceptance. Up to 75% of pet owners experience difficulties including disruption of their lives. You may mourn the death of a particular pet more than you mourned pets in the past, due to some special qualities of that pet or of that particular relationship. Thankfully, society is slowly changing its views about pet bereavement and the stigma is fading. People are beginning to realize that mourning is not a privileged commemoration to be reserved only for the loss of human loved ones.

Grieving might take you to your spiritual and emotional edges, so it’s often tempting to try to avoid it. Yet the more you are willing to embrace your emotions, the better equipped you are to live and love fully. While grief is a personal experience, you need not face loss alone. Many forms of support are available, including pet bereavement counseling services, pet-loss support hotlines, Internet bereavement groups, books and magazine articles. Many times just speaking with a friend who has suffered the loss of a pet will help.

Helen Hobbs

Pets at Peace – Pet Loss and Memorial Services

2375A Queen Street East (at Beech Ave)

416-699-9955

www.petsatpeace.ca