When a person you love dies, it's natural to feel sorrow, express grief, and expect friends and family to provide understanding and comfort. Unfortunately, the same doesn't always hold true if the one who died was your companion animal. Many consider grieving inappropriate for someone who has lost "just a pet". Nothing could be further from the truth. People love their pets and consider them members of the family. Caregivers celebrate their pets' birthdays, confide in their animals, and carry pictures of them in their wallets. So when your beloved pet dies, it's not unusual to feel overwhelmed by the intensity of your sorrow. Animals provide companionship, acceptance, emotional support, and unconditional love during the time they share with you. If you understand and accept this bond between humans and animals, you've already taken the first step toward coping with pet loss: knowing that it is okay to grieve when your pet dies.
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, local or online internet bereavement groups, books, videos, and magazine articles. You may also want to ask your veterinarian or local animal shelter about available pet loss hotlines.
Jose Cherbowsky, Ph.D.
License No MFC 41717
11772 Sorrento Valley Rd, Suite 160
San Diego CA 92121
Phone (760) 420-4971