Why Grieving Pet Owners Should be Taken Seriously

People love and appreciate their pets on a number of different levels. Where one person might see a silly creature, someone else is likely to see an intelligent, beloved family member. Regardless of how much or little you were able to appreciate a friend or loved one’s pet, make sure to take them seriously if they’re grieving the loss of a pet. Here’s why...

Even if a friend or family member’s grief over a lost pet doesn’t quite make sense to you, you owe it to them to take their pain seriously. The loss of a pet can be profoundly difficult. Some people fall into periods of grieving that can affect their ability to function socially or at work. They may lose weight or become susceptible to other health problems. 

Perspective Is Everything

Many people develop deep emotional bonds with their pets. Some of them might argue the love they feel for their pets can rival the love a parent feels for a child. Others may consider their pets among their most trusted friends. You might not see what made your loved one’s pet so special, but what’s important is that they did.

This stands true regardless of what type of animal a person is grieving. A hamster could have been a ray of sunshine in one person’s day, a nippy little dog another’s reason to get out of bed in the morning. Try not to underestimate the importance that lost furry, feathered or scaled friend held to the person grieving. You might not be feeling the loss, but the void that little animal left might feel like a bottomless chasm to your grieving friend.

Grief is Grief

Studies have shown the loss of a pet can affect people like any other death in the family. People who’ve lost pets often go through the same stages of grief as those who have suffered human losses. They may have a hard time eating, which can lead to weight loss, and they might suffer from sleep disturbances and other health issues. They might have trouble committing to social events or even functioning at work.

As a caring friend or family member, just remember that grief is grief. Little in this world is as painful as the heart-crushing despair that comes with losing someone you loved dearly. All color seems to fade from the world, and you wonder if you’ll be capable of seeing anything but gray ever again. Nothing seems to make as much sense as it did before, and nothing feels quite right --- so be patient if your friend isn’t his or herself for a while.

When you’re suffering so deeply and the world’s response is, “But it was only an animal,” you hear your suffering is invalid. It says what you’re going through is somehow less real than the pain someone else may be feeling over a human death. To the person grieving, the world as they knew it ended with that loss, and your support can make a difference in how profoundly it affects them.

We all process death in our own way, and we define family on equally personal terms. No one should ever have their grief minimized, and no one should ever have to apologize for grieving the loss of an animal. Be supportive, listen to the person and let them process the loss on their terms, in their time. Take them seriously --- because they shouldn’t have to grieve alone.

~ Here’s to Your Health and Wellness

2/24/2021 8:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
Wellness Exists to Empower Health Conscious Consumers. Wellness.com helps people live healthier, happier and more successful lives by connecting them with the best health, wellness and lifestyle information and resources on the web.
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I just lost my beloved dog of over 17 years and 8 months yesterday morning. I'm sitting here crying trying to go to sleep just wanting to hold him once more. He was more than a dog, he was my baby boy.😭
Posted by Nicole
I know of only 3 beings that loved me in life...
Ma, and my pups Woody & Dolly.....................
Posted by Wolfman
Recently, I have lost several beloved pets very close to one another. It is a grief that can be overwhelming. I keep their photos close at hand and remember the joy they brought me. I was truly blessed that they considered me "Mom". May those of you who have lost a beloved pet, take comfort in the fact that they loved you and hope that you will meet again at the Rainbow Bridge.
Posted by Mary
I rescued a yellow lab from the ASPCA 14 years ago. I was going to call my Vet today and ask him to come to my hse this Friday and send my Lucy to heaven. I started to call the Vet to schedule the visit to my house and I turned around to look at Lucy. Lucy woke up and was starring at me from her bed. I disconnected my phone call. Lucy's big brown eyes are too beautiful. I want God to take her in her sleep.
Posted by rick
I just recently lost a cat that loved me, and it was almost as bad as losing a person that I love. So, I do understand the grief losing a beloved pet can cause. I was always number one to her.
Posted by Ray
No matter what type of pet one has, they depend on us for food, shelter and compassion. It is like a small child. I grieve the loss of every one of mine. They are family. They are my children and I love them as such.
Posted by Diane Pease
Losing a pet, weather a dog. cat, even a ferret, can be devastating!
Posted by Wildmann

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